FishEye Shiraz 2010

Cost: $7-9

T his wonderful, robust, fruity Shiraz comes out just in time to celebrate Australia Day on January 26. That’s the day Australians commemorate the arrival of the British fleet in Sydney Cove and the beginning of British sovereignty over the colony of New South Wales in 1788.

So if you need an excuse to drink some Australian wine, next Thursday is as good as any.

FishEye Shiraz

This wine delivers a lot of value for its low price. It’s full of ripe blackberries and blueberries, with spicy black pepper typical in Shiraz. Sometimes an inexpensive Shiraz can be too harsh and hot, with excess alcohol. FishEye is just right, coming in at 13.5% alcohol and plenty of fruit.

Winemaker Steve Roden is a surfing buff, and I’d say he caught a big wave with this wine. One Australian saying is that when a fisherman has an especially good catch, he’s got the “Fish Eye.” He seems to have a sixth sense about where the fish are and how to catch them.

That’s what Roden does with his wine. He seems to know where to get the good grapes and how to put them together. All the grapes come from South Eastern Australia and are blended in the small town of Griffith.

The wine also comes in a 3-liter cardboard cask for $18. It’s the equivalent of four bottles, and because the wine is in an airtight plastic pouch it will keep for 6 weeks. It also reduces packaging wastes and carbon emissions.

Winery: Growing up in Sydney, Roden learned about wine from a favorite uncle, and started his first cellar at 18 (the legal drinking age in Australia). He chose mining as a career, and traveled around the world, picking up more wine knowledge.

Ten years ago he decided to forget about coal and devote himself to wine making. FishEye is the result of that passion. Roden says he has learned three important lessons:

–There’s always room for improvement.
–“Drinkability” is very important.
–The winemaking team is family. Good wines have to be made with fun and love.

FishEye makes a variety of wines, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Muscato, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanca and a very nice Pinot Grigio.

They are part of the Underdog marketing group which offers such wines as Cupcake, flipflop, Silver Birch, Pinot Evil and the Big House wines.

Goes with: Teri and I had this with a homemade green pepper stew, and the spiciness was a good match for the stew, and not too heavy. The peppery Shiraz also would go well with barbecued ribs, steak, jerk chicken, black beans and rice or sipping by itself.

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