That’s how you spend a day off.

 

 

Origin: Barossa, Australia

Composition: 66% Syrah/19% Grenache/8% Mourvèdre/7%Viognier

Appearance: ruby-violet with a black core and slightly bricked edges

Nose: eucalyptus, brambly blackberry, licorice

Palate: ripe mixed berries, tobacco, espresso bean, menthol

Mouthfeel: medium-full bodied with mouth-filling richness up-front, overall silkiness, wee mid-palate acid, and chalky tannins

Knew I was grilling a sirloin steak and wanted a wine built to handle it. Stopped by my old shop and found this bottling that I brought in a couple of years ago and pegged it as just right (also, at a price I was willing to spend $40–sorry St. Joseph, top-shelf Argentine blends, and vintage Rioja Reserva).

Twisted the screw-cap, set to grilling, and waited. About an hour later, sirloin topped with blue Stilton; grilled radicchio; and grill-sautéed green peppers, onions, and baby bella mushrooms were on the table next to a deep, dark glass of this Aussie classic.

Taut upon release and hiding under Stelvin closure, this wine has really come around. The nose and palate showed an almost Port-like something that had me a touch worried in conjunction with the slight bricking, but it turned out to be just the stewy fruit common of Barossa. The crush of ripe berry fruit was kept in check by a delicate mid-palate acid and the cooling menthol edge on the finish. At a stated 15% alcohol, this could have easily been boozy, but was quite well-balanced and surprisingly light and drinkable.

The pairing was on the money, too. The balance was apparent in not dominating the (admittedly, strong) flavors on my plate. The fruit and acid played beautifully off the fattiness and char of the steak and intense flavor of the Stilton. The radicchio and mixed veggies brought out fruit sweetness in the wine.

Next thing I knew, the wife and I had killed the bottle as we cleared our plates. No palate fatigue. No fullness after a glass. No concern about paying the price of over-indulgence. Just pure satisfaction.