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This month’s red wine pairing consists of an Aussie Shiraz and seared lamb chops. If you’ve read my blog, you know that I do not “love” Syrah/Shiraz. It’s just one of those things. I did have a recent Northern Rhone epiphany that still has me scratching my head because I’d all but written off the entire region – and then whoa! Well, this was another of those, as Oprah would say, “a-ha” moments. I really, really liked this Shiraz. Even better because this one meets my #BudgetMinded criteria.

The Wine

2014 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia

Ahh, Shiraz. Or Syrah. Same grape, different name. While there is no hard and fast rule, Shiraz tends to refer to warmer climate versions of the grape. Considered the national grape of Australia, they have certainly made it their own which is quite different from the grape’s Northern Rhone origins. This particular wine had lush, smoky black cherry and dark plum jam at the forefront followed by mocha and spice. Full-bodied, smooth, and coated the tongue like silk. This was not the Shiraz that I’d shunned in the past! The wine is made from fruit of newer Barossa vineyards rather than the old vines from which many of the region’s top wines come. The fruit is hand-harvested, spends twelve months in French oak, and does not undergo fining or filtration. At around $20, the quality is amazing. And apparently this is Torbreck’s entry-level wine so I wonder what the “good stuff” tastes like.

The Food

Seared Lamb Chops with Rosemary Balsamic Reduction, Blistered Tomatoes, & Spinach Salad

Australian Shiraz is typically quite bold, somewhat tannic, and fruit forward. Your dish needs to be equally bold so as not to be overshadowed by the wine. This is why smoky, saucy BBQ is also a great match with such wines. Bold and intense matched with bold and intense. But since I had some lamb chops to cook and they have equally intense flavor, lamb it was. I used this recipe for the lamb chops, except I seared them on the stove in a grill pan. And I must say that the reduced balsamic reduction sauce was a wonderful enhancement to the lamb. Lamb chops have a certain rusticity to them and I got the same vibe from the wine. But more importantly, the big flavors of the wine matched the bold, intense flavors of the lamb and reduced sauce. Neither component overpowered the other. Interestingly enough, lamb is often hailed as Australia’s national dish so paring the national dish with the national wine is a no-brainer.

Dinner was finished off with blistered tomatoes and a simple spinach salad. I use the term “salad” loosely as it was just fresh spinach1 that was quite nice with the warm balsamic from the lamb. The tomatoes are so simple and it’s amazing how much flavor you can get from blistering a tomato in the oven. Literally just toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper and pop in a 425-degree oven for around 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes begin to blister and split open.

Happy pairing and cheers y’all!

  1. I always have some on hand to slip (hide) into a smoothie or salad for Thing 1 and Thing 2

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