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04.22.2004

2001 D'Arenberg "Laughing Magpie" Shiraz/Viognier

I think this wine is stalking me. Not quite as badly as the Yellow Tail Shiraz (which is everywhere and everyone is talking about), but nearly everyone I know has been asking me for months if I've tasted this D'Arenberg effort.

Well the answer is: Now I have, so enough about it already !!

Of course, all these people are just trying to do me a favor, and after tasting this wine I recognize what a favor it is. This is an excellent Shiraz that sits squarely in a triangle made by linking three styles of Syrah: the old Australian style (with earthier, farmyard, and herbal tones), the classic Rhone Style (much lighter, tart fruit and herbs) and the New World style (with more forward fruit and oak).

D'arenberg is an Australian juggernaut from McLaren Vale that has managed to become pretty big and commercially successful while still remaining true to their winemaking. For instance they still basket crush all of the grapes for all of their wines, and foot tread the caps of their fermenting vats.

The Laughing Magpie, which takes its name from a family pet Kookaburra (a large black and white bird found in the region) is a wine inspired by classic Rhone blends, as it is 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier. Despite its heritage or inspiration, this wine retains a distinctly Shiraz (that is, Australian) character in its darkness and power.

Tasting Notes:
The wine has an amazing dark reddish-purple color, more purple than a lot of wines I have drunk lately. The nose on this wine is incredible (thanks in part to that Viognier), and one of my favorite things about the Magpie -- filled with geranium, crushed lavender, and a distinctly coconut aroma. In the mouth, despite its darkness, the wine has a lifting quality with nice acidity and redcurrant, blueberry, herbs and cedar flavors that tail into a snappy, tart finish that is very satisfying.

Food Pairing:
D'arenberg seems to think you can drink this wine with about anything:

Serve at room temperature 16 " 24 ºC. now or cellar for the nest 3-15 years with many types of food, especially hearty stews, rich pasta dishes, roasted and grilled meats including poultry and other white meats, also serves well with slightly hot or spicy dishes and with hard pressed cheeses. Also duck, lamb, beef, kangaroo and also good with dishes served with sauces consisting of rosemary, basil and other herbs or berries.
I'd love to try it with curried kangaroo, but that's pretty hard to come by for most, so let me recommend this spicy lamb stew with apricots and cardamom.

Overall Score: 9/9.5

How much?: $28-$30

Parker gave this vintage a 94 I believe, so it's getting scarce, but I think they made a lot of it, so you can still find it at many wine stores, including K&L.

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