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Day 8: last night, Reds Meadow, Brothers in Arms shiraz

July 22, 2008

What is it about these Australian wines (or is it Grateful Palate Imports wines??) that they offer so much creativity in what could be a boring enterprise—the label of a wine bottle?? For example, Boarding Pass,

from R Winery, which we enjoyed before dinner in early July the night Dave Staeheli flew in from Alaska to pick up his son, which has a ticket around its neck and a boarding pass on its belly! Yummy too, before dinner; with our steak dinner we downed a bottle of another Australian, “Red Edge” Cabernet in honor of the Big Monkey who used to be a red head—“Now THIS is GOOOOD!” he said. “What is this? I really like it! It’s not as fruity as that other stuff.” Cabernet, I told him, you prefer cabs over shiraz. “Yes,” he agreed. Since I bought it thinking it would be one he’d like, I was glad to be right!!

The Red Edge is a classy package but not going to win a beauty contest or stand out on the shelf or on the table in any way that will spark a conversation while Boarding Pass, which looks like a boarding pass, will catch your attention and likely fly off the shelf into your shopping cart.

Tonight I am about to open a bottle of Brothers in Arms 2002 shiraz which I just retrieved from where it was nestled in the rocks and under the alders in the creek to cool it to cellar temperature of about 60 degrees; I imagine, after this warm day, it would be in the 70s otherwise–yuck, especially for a high alcohol wine like this one (15%).

The cap is remarkable—embossed on top: two hands clasp, shirt sleeves rolled up, muscles flexed, and along the bottom on a tangerine tape it reads in black script “Brothers in Arms” with a red postmark for Langhorne Creek South Australia. The label is cream with the black script and red postmark, and the top and bottom of the label looks ot be hand torn. This label also has wine spilt from a broken bottle but that just adds to its charm as it does to Dead Letter office, another one of my favorite labels (and shiraz too!) The text on the back explains that five generations have grown grapes there and now brothers turn those grapes into wines like this one.

A wine can’t be all fancy label and braggadaccio. The wine in the glass must be at least as good as the bottle it came from. The bottle of 2006 Ringland Ebenezer shiraz is beautiful, graceful, evocative—and the wine is bold, rich, inviting, and rewarding, its promise fulfilled.

As the sun breaks through after many rambunctious thunders (no lightening from our vantage point of our fishing spot along the San Joaquin River) and some scattered rain (enough to make the sagebrush and the Jeffery pines break out the perfume), I break the lead carefully so that the top is still attached for show, I manipulate the broken corkscrew to release the cork, I pour a small amount into the Mexican green glass (I really should have brought a real wine glass on this trip!!)

Hmmn, unusual! Reminds me of spice, and herbs– Thai spices: galangal ginger, lemon grass, green curry, coconut milk, mint. No kidding! And some of that Thai green curry spice lives on from the nose to the palate. But don’t let me scare you—it’s really good! Rich and creamy, fruity of course but not as fruity as others. The richness here is meaty and fatty, almost like a porkchop (or a lambchop with mint jelly?) The label says the wine is typical of the region and I can’t wait to find out if Thai green curry is typical of the region. If I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere, at least an hour drive and 2000′ elevation gain up to Minarets summit and again then down into the town of Mammoth, I would google this wine and find out if anyone else tastes Thai green curry in this shiraz. Hmmn, I wonder how this shiraz would be with Thai food?

The remaining question is: how will it be with the trout I am hoping the Big Monkey will return with any minute for dinner?? Otherwise, we’re having pasta from the van’s pantry…which I better put on to boil just in case! With a wine this tasty, it doesn’t matter what else we might have to eat!

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