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A night off with the Aussies: Jacob's Creek & Penfold's Koonunga Hill 2004

It's remarkable how the right bottle at the right time can do so much for you. I am not talking about careful cellaring or making wise choices during a flight of wines. I'm talking about the thoughtful gestures of others.

Jacob's Creek Shiraz South Eastern Australia 2004 was not what I was planning to open today, let alone post on. After all in the middle of Portuguese week, what could be stranger than an oaked international varietal?

I woke up this morning and it wasn't long before I knew it would be one of those days. The bus driver told me to get out and walk when I didn't have the exact change. It was about a block to the subway, so his unsavoury show of power only meant the loss of my respect rather than the loss of my time. The smug subway car conductor had something to say about that though. The entire green line was down. I would have to seek out another bus to get to work. The fact that I didn't have a proper transfer allowed for some fleeting but mandatory humiliation, which the driver feasted on like a vulture to carrion. At least this time I was let stay on. Could the inconvenience have been worse for him than me, I wondered.

Showing up for work 45 minutes late, it was clear that my lunchhour would not be spent posting my latest installment to Portuguese week. I would have to make up time. That was the least of my worries though. The office today would be a day of stomach-dropping excitation. The kind of day when you don't realize lunch passed two hours ago because events are rocking your cubicle and making food a nauseating prospect.

And then came Danielle.

Stretching her arm out to hand me a generous expression of gratitude, I suddenly realized that when things you don't plan on start happening, they don't always have to turn into nightmares. Having a surprise visit from a colleague like Danielle certainly helps. And hey, so does the gift of a little vino. I hope you like Shiraz, she said, as I pulled the bottle of the bag. You bet. I have a feeling Danielle must've visited Weingolb before.

Some hours later, there still would be no Portuguese wine posted to the blog, no Portuguese wine opened and on the table. But who cares? The Shiraz was uncorked and decanted, and Gordon was grilling chicken in a skillet. While long grain rice slowly and aromatically steamed in the cooker, florets of broccoli readied themselves for a quick blanching. We were drinking Penfold's Koonunga Hill Chardonnay. Oaked chard and a slice of gruyère on toast -- how many time zones had I crossed to reach this oasis?

And it got even better. In a brilliant manoeuver, Gordon emptied the remaining white wine into the pan to create a mustardy dressing that he poured over the risotto-like rice, flecked with green onions, and the broccoli. Dinner looked stunning, as always. Gordon is such a great cook. Eric joined us and Danielle's Shiraz was poured into glasses...

A beguiling aroma of garrigue, black cherry and bay leaf. It tasted totally unlike the smell though. Baked plum, anise, wood chips and a slightly viscous cola finish. Gordon pointed out the cola and hints of vanilla. Medium to full body, and tremendously smooth. This Shiraz is convincingly textured by well-integrated, well-ripened fruit.

Thanks for the pick-me-up Danielle: Down time should always feel this good.

Today's originally scheduled post, and the start of the second half of Portuguese week, will appear here tomorrow.

1 comment:

Mondrian said...

Hi there...

Have to tell you, Jacob's Creek is a sentimental favorite of mine. When I was living down under in Brisbane, my roommates and I would open at a least 3-5 bottles a week between the shiraz or cabernet.. We called it our cheap and dependable (between 6-8 AUD)...on special occasions we would 'splurge' for either a Penfolds or Eldredge Shiraz. :)

Darn, wish I had read your blog prior to this weekend, went to Chez Doval for great portugese.
Oh...and my recommendation to your 'ode to Portugal week'... Chocapalha Estremadara (sp?). Was widely recommended on my last visit to Lisbon and was easily accessible, even bought a bottle for my dad. (only reason I remember is because it reminds me of the word copacabana--dont ask..) Wine over Porto any day, I say!

Win.