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A lifestyle blog by Allison Arbuthnot on The Whole 9

Allison was raised on the vine in Sonoma, California, and believes that life is too short to drink bad wine, count calories, or second-guess your destiny. She now lives in Los Angeles where she practices many things, the two most important being contentment and tricks for opening a wine bottle without a wine key.

Seduction in Oz

She was dark and sultry. Her uncommonly chiseled shape caught glances like a spiderweb catches flies. The solidity of her short black dress was punctuated by a silver zipper running the length of her spine, a silver zipper that served to both make the blackness blacker while also hinting at how easy, how utterly effortless it would be to make all that black disappear with one pull, like the thoughtless motion of twisting a screw cap off a bottle. This was, in fact, the thought that occupied most minds around her: what it would be like to unscrew the cap and observe her in all her full-bodied glory spilling out into a glass, the smell of rough blackberry brambles and the soft smoke of tobacco rising off of her like steam…

Whoa; let’s not get carried away. But the Rosemount Show Reserve ‘Traditional,’ McLaren Vale, Australia 2005 is an undeniably sexy bottle of wine. Its sassy diamond-shaped bottle, simple black label and undeniably simple screw-top alone are enough to make you want to get your hands on it. Once its open and you’ve tasted its dark, ripe fruit and understated, olive-like earthy funk, and quiet sophisticated oak, there’s just no turning back.

Good luck, and cheers.

  1. Screw tops are so much more practical than corks. They’re easy to open and replace, they create perfect seals, they don’t allow for seepage, they don’t crumble, or get contaminated, they eliminate the need for lead seals: It’s inarguably the better solution. But most wine drinkers just won’t accept them. It’s something about history, provenance, their organic nature, the ritual of their penetration and the revelation of the sensual mystery hidden within.

    My most recent revelation came in the form of an ‘89 Lynch Bages opened at home to accompany a dinner I cooked: Two perfectly grilled 8 oz. medium-rare filet mignons, fresh chantrelles lightly braised in olive oil and a carmelized maui onion tart with a thin, sweet mole´ crust on top.

    About a half hour before serving the meal I open the bottle. The cork is bleached white with it’s tip soaked deep purple and no seepage. The fill is perfect. As I carefully pour the wine, a powerful, heady bouquet of ripe, red fruit soars from the decanter. In an oversized Riedel bordeaux glass, the color is pure ruby red. It’s self evident that this is going to be a world class wine experience. A first taste reveals pronounced cherry, licorice and bittersweet chocolate flavors with a brief edge of alcohol that dissipates quickly as the wine oxygenates and knits together. Over the next hour, given more air exposure, it evolves into a fluent whole with all the flavors singing in harmony- a sleek, elegant Ferrari of a wine, concentrated fruit firing on all cylinders and taking flight. No soil or ‘forest floor’ grounds this rocket, but along with its seductive raciness, there’s more than enough depth and substance to give it gravitas. It’s the kind of wine where you take a sip and go, “Oh…my…god!” By the end of the meal, with just a few teaspoons worth left in the glass, the nose has turned to intense strawberry and the wine itself has smoothed out to become the essence of ‘jamminess’, not overly sweet or cloying, but rich and deep and profound. This wine is at it’s peak, but the peak could easily last another 10 years or more.

  2. I can’t figure out which made my mouth water more — Allison’s wine narrative, dangerousidea’s wine narrative, or dangerousidea’s food narrative ;)

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