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Bubbly Time!

This is the time of year when everyone is rolling out their favorite sparkling wine list.  Bubbly wines are synonymous with celebrations and there seems to be a lot of that going around at the moment.

The problem is, part of the whole mission statement of OddBallGrape.com is to avoid those cliches.  But, dang, for some reason, we’re stumbling across all these new and different bubblies.  More importantly, there are lots of lists, but nothing on what bubblies are and what all that stuff on the label means.

Let’s start with the whole Champagne, not Champagne thing.  What we’re

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La Motte 2007 Shiraz

Type: Dry red Made with: Syrah grapes, (aka shiraz) Plays well with: Beef, beef and more beef.

Usually, when you put your nose in a glass of shiraz, it’s all fruit.  Shiraz, which is the Australian name for syrah, is often picked when the grapes are a lot riper than European syrahs, so you get more of that ripe smell and flavor in the wine.

Not so with this shiraz from South Africa’s La Motte (shiraz is also the preferred term for syrah in South Africa, as well).  In this case, the aroma of the fruit was faint or

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Dancing Coyote 2009 Verdelho

Type: Dry white Made with: Verdelho Plays well with: Cream sauces, sharp cheeses, non-oily fish

If folks know about verdelho, they know it  primarily as a blending grape in its native Chianti, Italy. But winemakers in Portugal have been making a pretty tasty white out of it for…  Well, a really long time.  And several California growing areas are starting to include it in their own blends or as a varietal of its own – including the nice folks at Dancing Coyote, in Acampo, California, part of the Clarksburg appellation.

The 2009 Verdelho has a nice floral nose. The

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La Motte 2007 Shiraz/Viognier

Courtesy La Motte

Type: Dry red Made With: syrah and viognier grapes Plays Well With: Chili and other hearty fare

Shiraz.  Syrah.  It’s the same grape, just a different name.  The Australians made the shiraz term familiar to us in the U.S., and according to La Motte Winemaker Edmund Terblanche, the South Africans are just as likely to say shiraz as not.  Which means the following is going to get a little confusing unless we chose a name and stick with it.  And, by gum, we’re sticking with syrah, since we’ll be referring to the grape as it’s

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La Motte – All the Way From South Africa

Edmund Terblanche of La Motte

One of the advantages of massive tastings like Hospice du Rhone is that you get to try wines that are harder to find and from places you don’t get to see every day.  Such as South Africa.

We met a couple of really interesting producers from there, including Edmund Terblanche, of La Motte, in the Franschhoek Valley in the Cape winelands.  It being Hospice du Rhone, Terblanche was pouring the winery’s shiraz wines.  Yes, shiraz is the Australian name for syrah, but apparently, it’s also the preferred term in South Africa, too.

“That’s

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