Mollydooker Wines-Part 2

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Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.27.49 AMAs promised in our previous blog post, Mollydooker-Part 1, we want to share information about Sparky and Sarah Marquis’ unique “Marquis Fruit Weight™,” along with other stories we heard from Sparky’s dad, Leigh Gawith, who is also the vineyard manager.

Sparky and Leigh are both pictured on the right in a photo we took during our visit.

To refresh your memory, we spent a few hours at Mollydooker’s Cellar Door in McLaren Vale, Australia last month; we had so much fun and learned so much that we are writing a second blog post about our experience.

Mollydooker: Some of the Story
Sparky and Sarah began making wine in the 1990s. By 2006, after both challenges and successes, the brand Mollydooker was born. Mollydooker is an affectionate Australian slang word for left-hander, because both of them are left-handed.

Three months later, The Wine Advocate chose Mollydooker’s Shiraz, The Boxer, as the Best Value Red Wine in the World. The Two Left Feet (a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) was second, and the Maitre D’ Cab came in fourth. The Violinist (Verdelho) was chosen as the Best Value White Wine in the World. All these wines sold out in nineteen days.

In August, Mollydooker’s Carnival of Love was awarded 99 points from The Wine Advocate, while their Enchanted Path received 96 points. They both sold out in five days.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.25.40 AMFollowing these wonderful events, Sarah and Sparky bought 114 acres of vineyards, a winery and property with stunning views on Seaview Ridge in McLaren Vale, 45 minutes outside of Adelaide.

Their motto is: “We make wines that make people go WOW, through attention to detail and commitment to excellence!” And if you read Mollydooker-Part 1, you’ll know we said WOW a lot while tasting their wines.

Note: This is only part of the Mollydooker story. You can read the entire story on their fun website.

So what makes Mollydooker wines unique? Read on!

Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme™ and the Marquis Fruit Weight™ Programme
The Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme™ is the result of an intensive collection of data and analysis, starting at bud burst in each vineyard and inspections twice weekly throughout the growing season. To produce the most intense fruit flavors, this program focuses on growing strong and healthy vines with a balanced canopy.

On our vineyard and winery tour last month, Leigh told us the programme is successful because they manipulate water levels to mimic the aging process. This means they can create balance in the vines during one year, instead of what usually takes ten. He pointed to neighbours’ surrounding vineyards to show us the difference in their appearance compared to Mollydooker’s because of this programme.

Leigh said the secret is allowing the soil to dry up, so the vines go into survival mode and put more flavour into the fruit. In turn, the amazing fruit flavour achieved in the vineyard is what creates the Marquis Fruit Weight™ in the wine.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.26.06 AM

Remember in Part 1, we talked about Mollydooker’s outstanding wine, Velvet Glove Shiraz? Well, Marquis Fruit Weight™ is the “velvet glove” sensation of fruit that sits on your tongue before the structure of the wine is exposed.

To get there, Leigh’s vineyard team measures the growth of the vines and reports on the fruit weight of the juice. The data is then fed into complex formulas, which results in precise watering recommendations for the next three days. And on it goes throughout the growing season.

Meanwhile, Sparky and Sarah taste and classify the grapes into fruit weights ranging from 65% to 95-100%. The higher the fruit weight, the more intense and rich are the flavors in the wine.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.26.24 AM These fruit weights determine the price of Mollydooker wines.

For example, their $25 wines (Boxer Shiraz) land at 65%-75% fruit weight; the $49 Blue Eyed Boy is 75% to 85%; the Carnival of Love costs $75 and is 85% to 95% fruit weight, and the $185 Velvet Glove is 95% – 100% fruit weight.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to meet Sarah when we were at Mollydooker’s Cellar Door. But we’ve seen interviews where she stated that she uses only two words to describe wine, so nobody has to remember all the flavour characters: – Yum or Yuck.

We are unanimous in our opinion: Mollydooker wines are most definitely YUM.

Cheers!

Mollydooker Wines-Part 1

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Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.31.02 AMOur visit to Mollydooker‘s Cellar Door highlighted our travels to McLaren Vale last month. A “cellar door” in Australia is the equivalent of a “tasting room” in the U.S. and Canada.

In just a couple of hours, we tasted some absolutely amazing wines; learned the Mollydooker story; were educated on the Marquis Fruit Weight™; heard amusing tales from Sparky Marquis and his dad, Leigh Gawith, who is also the vineyard manager; talked social media and cookie butter with Jen, Mollydooker’s Facebook and Twitter guru; chatted with Fran, our tour host; had a delicious meal of fresh garden produce; and searched for Bill, the resident Koala bear.

We never did see Bill, who hides high up in the trees surrounding the beautiful estate vineyards and only shows his adorable fuzzy face when he is in the mood and not sleeping.

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.27.26 AMThe light lunch was delicious — garden-fresh produce, the best sourdough bread ever, slices of turkey, different cheeses, almonds, honey and other pairing delights.

But not surprisingly, the wines took center stage. Or should we say centre stage?

We were very fortunate to taste several wines, all Shiraz, that most definitely had that WOW factor.

We’re not alone in that belief. Mollydooker’s Velvet Glove was awarded 99 points, the Carnival of Love has twice been in the Wine Spectator’s Top Ten Wines in the World, the Blue Eyed Boy is featured in the Qantas President’s Lounge and the demand for The Boxer is massive.

We first tasted both the Carnival of Love and the Velvet Glove at the 2010 Wine Blogger Conference in Walla Walla. We were with a large group trying pours of numerous wines from various regions of the world, and our table was unanimous in declaring both of these rich, robust reds as the best of the day.

Four years later, we still feel the same way. But somehow, they taste even better in Australia!

Mollydooker Blue Eyed Boy

Simply lovely. We brought a bottle of this Shiraz back to our hotel, where we savored every sip while enjoying the view from our balcony. The name Blue Eyed Boy is perfect, because of the blueberry flavors that explode in your mouth the minute you take a sip. (The winemaker says it reminds him of taking a bite from a blueberry muffin.) This is a rich, powerful wine with a silky texture and a very long finish.

Mollydooker Carnival of Love

Love is exactly what we feel about this wine. Full-bodied, complex, intense and elegant, Carnival of Love shares the same silkiness as other Mollydooker wines. And yes, we took some back to Seattle.

Mollydooker Velvet Glove

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.28.45 AMThis beauty is exemplified first by the black velvet label, and then by the velvety smooth taste on the palate. WOW doesn’t even seem adequate for one of our favorite wines in the world. Inky in color, complex, beautifully balanced, rich and luxurious, Velvet Glove has black fruit flavors layered with chocolate, mocha and spice. It’s impossible to just drink one glass.

Marquis Fruit Weight™

Owners Sparky and Sarah Marquis guarantee the quality of their wine by rating it on their unique Marquis Fruit Weight™, which is “the measure of how far back on your tongue the velvety sensation of fruit goes, before the prickly sensation of tannin is exposed.”

More details about fruit weight and the Mollydooker story will be highlighted in our next blog post, Mollydooker Wines-Part 2. We hope you come back to read more about our adventures at Mollydooker’s Cellar Door in McLaren Vale, Australia.

Cheers!

 

 

Franciscan Estate

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Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 1.54.44 PMSince 1975, Franciscan Estate has produced wine in the Napa Valley, where Cabernet Sauvignon is king.

So we were delighted to receive samples of 2011 Franciscan Estate Cab and Merlot to taste.

2011 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Although 2011 was a challenging, cool growing season, the Franciscan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon offers beautiful aromas of red fruit and a silky mouthfeel. Comprised of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 2% Petite Verdot, 1% Syrah and 1% Cabernet Franc, this Bordeaux-style blend pairs well with hamburgers and other meat dishes.

While it is drinkable now, we recommend putting it down for a couple of years to further enhance the flavors. This is a good example of a quality Napa Cabernet Sauvignon with a $28 price point.

2011 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley Merlot

Despite being produced in the challenging growing season of 2011, Franciscan Napa Valley Merlot shows richness, body and what the winemaker calls “generous shoulders.” A blend of 82% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 2% Syrah, this wine offers vibrant aromas and flavors, with soft tannins and supple texture.

This wine is approachable now or could be cellared for a couple more years. This is a good example of an everyday wine at $20.

Cheers!

Angel Vine Wine

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Screen Shot 2014-06-08 at 12.47.59 PMAngel Vine is an Oregon winery specializing in Washington Zinfandel and Primitivo, and to a lesser extent, Petite Sirah. The wine is made by Ed Fus in one of our favorite places in Oregon wine country, Carlton, but the grapes come from Washington state: Walla Walla Valley, Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope.

A year ago, we tasted pours of some Angel Vine at Carlton Cellars, where Ed makes the wine, so we were delighted when we received some sample wines to try this year. We agree with the branding note on the back of the bottles, the winery’s website, and Facebook and Twitter profiles: “Angel Vine is committed to producing premium Northwest Zinfandel and Primitivo wines that show character, individuality and spunk.”

 Angel Vine 2010 Petite Sirah (Wahluke Slope)

This big, bold red has a dark inky color, with a firm texture and mouthfeel and aromas and flavors of dark plum and blueberries. We paired it with spaghetti, with a rich tomato and meat sauce. However this wine would also work well with grilled or barbecued meats or spicy dishes. An excellent value, at $22

Angel Vine 2011 Zinfandel  (Horse Heaven Hills)

If you are a fan of Zinfandel, you must try this rich and robust wine. Comprised of 98% Zin and rounded out with 2% Petite Sirah, this wine offers bright flavors of raspberries, cherries and strawberries. Washington state wine expert Paul Gregutt wrote this in the Wine Enthusiast: “Angel Vine sources excellent fruit, and makes what is arguably the most hedonistic, California-style Zinfandel in the northwest.” Another excellent value at $19

Angel Vine 2010 Primitivo (Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope)

We love Primitivo, and this one hits the mark in both taste and value. From Coyote Canyon vineyard and Stonetree vineyard, the blended wine offers gorgeous and fragrant aromas of black cherry, raspberry and dark fruits; the wine is elegant, luscious and jammy. Another excellent value at $20

Cheers!