A Serious Sparkling Red Wine
I've tried several sparkling Shirazes over the years, and while I've enjoyed them (I've never met a bubbly I didn't like...), I've always thought of them as fun, not-so-cerebral wines--cool conversation pieces and host gifts, but not terribly complex sippers.
Last night I attended a sparkling wine dinner at Tallula, where the absolutely charming Wine Director Juliana Santos paired four courses of chef Barry Koslow's cuisine with bubbly from around the world--Champagne, Cremant de Loire, a Moscato/Brachetto blend from Piedmont, and a sparkling Shiraz from Majella Winery, in Australia's Coonawarra region.
All notions of pigeon-holing sparkling Shiraz went out the window.
The Majella was a serious wine, with tannin, spice, dark berry flavors and a gorgeous dark ruby hue. (Its dosage includes vintage Port, which no doubt adds body and complexity, and a touch of dried fruit.) The refreshing bubbles washed away the richness of the decadently delicious Suckling Pig Porchetta with Braised Napa Cabbage, Guanciale, Glazed Turnips and Sour Cherry Sauce.
I think it would be a perfect option for a Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve dinner, where the main course might be beef tenderloin, or a smoked duck breast. I'm all for drinking bubbly throughout the entire meal (and not just on holidays, either...). You could start the meal off with something light like a Prosecco, go with a Blanc de Blancs or rose Champagne for a first course (seafood? lobster?), and then open up this baby for the main course.
You can drink (and buy) the Majella Sparkling Shiraz at Tallula. The retail price is $30.