April 23, 2008

Wednesday's Wine - Hardy's Stamp of Australia

Most of my friends know that I love red wine and I hate to spend "too much" money. So I'm always on a mission to find a really good value in wine. In particular, I look for full bodied reds under $10.00. I consider it a particularly good day when I find something here in Colorado for under $5.00, especially when it tastes like a $15.00 bottle. So after a few years of regularly looking for great deals in wine, I thought I would share. This week, I'm starting with a current find, but in future weeks I'll cover other favorites and I'll even talk about some white wines, too (the things I'll do for you, my faithful 3 readers!).

There are two places in my neck of woods (suburbs of Denver) that I usually go to for my wine selections. Occasionally I'll venture to other locations, but not that often. The main place I go is a nearby liquor store called 3 S Liquors (I have no idea who or what the 3 S's are). I go there because it's next to the grocery store and I'm pretty friendly with Joe and Bob the wine guys (mostly with Joe...if his wife ever asks, it's purely about the wine...really). Bob is an older very knowledgeable fellow, but he usually isn't there when I pop by. Since I most often go there on Saturday afternoons, Joe is my wine guy. He knows I prefer the bolder reds and he also knows I'm a cheapskate (I think I've mentioned that previously). The other place I go is a huge warehouse style liquor store. The place is full of everything, but mostly it's wine, wine, wine! It's set up by countries and then somewhat by type of wine. They also send me emails when something new is on special and they usually have slightly better prices than 3 S. On the other hand it's about 20 miles round trip (which is $2.50 to $4.00 in gas depending on which car I'm driving that day), whereas 3 S is about 2 miles roundtrip. Therefore, the wine has to have a great price or be something unique before I drive all the way to Applejack.

This week's wine pick is actually three picks from Hardy's Stamp of Australia line. This is a really really good value in wine. Right now these are selling at 3 S for $4.99 a bottle and at Applejack for $3.99. These are no Two Buck Chuck's (the nickname for a cheap, but tasty red blend found in California and whose real name I actually can not remember). These wines are from Eastern Australia, an area best known for Shiraz.

So let's start with Hardy's Stamp of Australia Shiraz, 2006. Most wine labels have a description of what the wine tastes like and might say something else such as food pairings or something about the vineyard. Hardy's has several lines of wine and their Stamp of Australia line is for export to the U.S. and appears to be aimed at average American wine drinkers. Depending on the part of the U.S. in which you live, this wine typically ranges in price from $12.00 to $16.00. I chatted with a friend in Connecticut about Hardy's and she found it there in the $16.00 range. Therefore, I feel very fortunate, that both 3 S and Applejack got the line at awesomely discounted prices! Even at $16.00 or so, this is a very tasty Shiraz and the label description is quite accurate: "rich plum, dark berry, and velvety chocolate flavours". The Hardy's folks recommend this wine goes well with grilled beef and I would agree. It was quite yummy.

I also tried the Stamp of Australia Cabernet Sauvignon (which I think is also 2006). It's not a typical Cabernet, as it actually tasted similar to a Shiraz. Where most bottles of Shiraz have obvious fruit flavors, Cabernet's tend to be a bit dryer and less fruity, although still bold. This Cabernet was unusual as it had some definite fruit flavors going on. I liked it quite a bit, but I would not choose it if I wanted a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon. The label is similar to the Shiraz bottle but instead of purple, it's red. I'd tell you what the label said, but I drank it already and it ended up in the recycle bin. Oh, and did I mention this line is all screw tops. Yeah...I know, it seems tacky. However, wine makers are looking for alternatives to cork for several reasons. First of all, cork is getting expensive and second, if it rots for some reason it ruins a good bottle of wine. Third, if you're like me and live alone, then having the ability to put the lid back on the bottle is great because it limits the wine's exposure to oxygen. Oxygen is not your wine's friend. That's also why more companies are putting mid and higher range wines in boxes. These days, as you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, you shouldn't judge a wine by it's container.

Finally, I tried the Stamp of Australia Merlot, 2006. This is also very good. Now before I wrap up about this wine, I should mention that I am generally not a fan of Merlot. Most of them tend to be wimpy in my estimation. In fact, I've heard Merlot referred to as a "starter" red wine. Most seem watery or thin to me and generally they taste pretty mild... not too much fruit, not too dry. Merlot does go well with pork and less spicy dishes. Since I love my food spicy, I find they're not usually a good option for me. However, Joe at 3 S told me I would really like this one. And since he is rarely wrong, I gave it shot to make me love it. And I did! Here's what the label says: "ripe berry and plum fruit flavours complement the spicy characters". I'd have to agree. This is not a thin wine. While it does have a tad more fruit than a typical Merlot, it's not like the big fruit flavors of a Shiraz. The "spicy characters" kind of pushed up the boldness, which of course was perfect for my palate (otherwise known as my taste buds). The Hardy's folks recommend pairing this wine "with a big slice of pizza". I may do just that tonight, as I still have some wine left in the bottle!

9 comments:

Jdancer8 said...

I am glad you are doing this for "us" I however prefer the white wines, so I'll be sure to take good notes when those ones come out...however it never hurts to give the reds a try....(o:

Anonymous said...

That was interesting...really good...

Actually what I found most interesting is about the box O wine. Personally as a beer conissuer (don't worry I can't spell cause I was sampling the wines) I always feel guilty buying the box O wine. Now I will hold my head high as I hoist it out to my pick up truck. More Sangria in a box for me!!!!!! :-) Fruit...who needs fruit...the fruit is drinking the damn stuff!! The one thing I will say is that Merlot is not a starter wine...too dry...and no bubbles!!!! WTF ;-)

CathyLil

Ariana said...

I hope this comment breaks the cycle of my non-comment here...
last night i was reading your interesting blog about wine and getting myself some education in that regard... i actually looked into something i always wondered about (but never enough to actually initiate a research!) and i thought i share it with some wine enthusiasts who may appreciate it...
shiraz is a city in south of iran and for several hundred years the best and the most famous persian wine was made in shiraz (until it was banned 30 years ago right after the revolution since alcohol consumption is prohibited in islam!!!) i know WTF?
anyways i always wondered if shiraz, the persian city, has anything to do with shiraz, the wine... and the answer is no! the origin of "syrah" the variety of grape that shiraz is made from was not certain until a couple of years ago when some bored scientists decided to do some DNA profiling on the grape and they found that the australian vine is originated from northern rone in southeastern france... of course there are some legends about some crusaders bringing the vine graft from persia to france but it doesn't match with historical events...
i hope i didn't bore you...

TheWeyrd1 said...

Ariana...thanks for the really interesting history lesson!!! Who knew! Cathy...thanks for coming by and good luck with that box of sangria...hehehe J...as always, thanks for your loyal readership! I'll have a white wine pick soon.

RED MOJO said...

What are you trying to post everyday now!!! Wow.
Hardys is very good. I am a red wine drinker, and I love a really good 15 dollar range bottle. My favorite in that range is "7 Deadly Zins" I'm not a huge zinfandel drinker, but that wine is wonderful. It's a California wine, a mix from seven growers of seven "old vine" Zins. It goes incredibly well with St. Andre cheese.

TheWeyrd1 said...

red...mmmmm...yummy!

citizen of the world said...

I haven' seen that one, but I'll look for it. I like Australian wines. Last year I toured four Tasmanian wineries, although their wines seem to be pricier than the mainland's.

TheWeyrd1 said...

Citizen...any that you would recommend?

yenbar said...

So Weyrd..can I get a box of margaritas? maybe at the same place Cathy gets her box of sangria...lol