By Celia Strong
Really! Who are they and what are they doing? Riding Naked on roller skates? First of all, I thought skate boards were cooler than roller skates these days. But, who cares cuz some of us are just too old and too stiff to do either. That being said, I think we’ve been trying to loosen ourselves up. Not just physically, maybe not physically at all, but at least in our wine world. We’ve been trying new wines, new grape varieties, new sources for old (meaning well known to us) varieties. Stretching our drinking muscles. And our tasting muscles. And even our mental muscles. Well, here we go again this week.
First, let’s look at where our wine comes from. The McLaren Vale area of Australia. McLaren Vale is located in South Australia, about one hundred and twenty miles south of Adelaide. It was named for either David McLaren, Colonial Manager for the south Australia Company, or John McLaren, who surveyed the area in 1839. These two men were not related. Weird, actually. The initial crops that were grown here were cereal grains, though, and the first vines were planted in 1838. There are some one hundred year old vines still growing and producing grapes. Today, there are more than ninety wineries in McLaren Vale, mostly small, family run operations. In 2011, special legislation was introduced to protect the unique heritage of Barossa and McLaren wines. (This legislation was passed in 2012, and enacted in 2013.) A Mediterranean climate makes grape growing in this region very successful – dry summers with long, warm days and short, cool nights, an average of about twenty-five inches of rain per year and very rare frosts or freezes. There are a multitude of soil types in the valley, so “terroir” tends to show in the wines. Overall, all the soil types are well-draining and hold little water. This allows the growers to control, through irrigation, how much water the vines get. These wines are known for their intense colors, powerful fruit flavors, elegance, structure and complexity. The wines from McLaren Vale are mostly dry reds. And their main grape varieties are Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre.
Our wine this week is made from two varieties. Shiraz and Mataro. Shiraz, I suspect, we all have had many of. Maybe not knowing where exactly they came from (meaning which specific part of Australia), but we were sure it was Shiraz. From McLaren, Shiraz has pronounced berry and spice flavors. And some dark chocolate and licorice notes. These Shiraz wines have a softness, juicy mouth texture, and are full in your mouth. We’ll find out in a moment how much Shiraz we get in our wine this week, but it sure does sound good this far! (An educated guess would be it’s more Shiraz because we listed it first. Just a guess, of course.)
Our second variety is Mourvedre, also known as Mataro. This is a red variety that is probably originally from Spain. Most likely introduced into Catalonia by the Phoenicians, about 500 BC. (In Spain, this variety is also called Monastrell.) Its history in Australia shows plantings going back to the mid-nineteenth century. It was used for large production, jug wines and for blending into fortified wines. Its wines have larger amounts of tannins, it is very thick skinned, deep colors and lots of phenolic compounds – one of the good things we drink red wine for, perfume notes, blackberry flavors and a gamy/meaty characteristic. With age, these wines can develop earthy notes, tobacco and leather notes and hints of molasses or gingerbread. Again, things are sounding really good. Yum!
Moving on, we now come to our winery for this week. Its called Some Young Punks. Really? Well, yes, but they are not like any other. There are three punks – Col McBryde who is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for “most tattoos while holding multiple PhD’s, Jen Gardner who is a self-confessed “nerdy yeast expert,” and Nic Bourke who is the self proclaimed “number one fan of Culture Club and winemaker extraordinaire.” These three love to drink wine, expect it to be, on a bottle by bottle basis, an experience. None of their wines may be made more than once. Each name for each wine is drawn from a unique experience, or buzz from a drinking experience, and quantities are all limited. A winemaker only has to produce consistently good wines. Not necessarily the same wines all the time. Which means, if you find one of theirs you like, don’t think it will always be available.
Perfect example? This week’s wine. Some Young Punks’ “Naked on Roller Skates.” Boy, that’s a name. And an image. Just look at the label. This wine, their 2013, is seventy-three percent Shiraz, from ten year old vines. And, twenty-seven percent Mataro from thirty year old vines. As it is described by them, the punks, this is a wine for a drinker for whom neither hillsides or nudity are enough. More specifically, in terms for describing wines that we’re more familiar with, these grapes are grown on loamy soils. The wine has a deep inky, purple color and it is full of immense fruit flavors, including cassis, licorice and cocoa powder.
Almost as intense as in a liqueur. Big and fat, but hopefully the naked skater is not big and fat. Smooth tannins and a long finish. Only two thousand, five hundred and forty-two dozen were made. (We would say cases, but they say how many dozen bottles. Guess they’re just having fun.)
So, who are these young punks? And what do they have to do with wine? Now we know. Next step is to try their wine. Hopefully, it will be an experience for each of us. A good experience and a good memory. Time to loosen up – mentally and physically. And with our wines. Some people just are having too much fun. Let’s join them. For $19.99. Enjoy.