Some of you will remember a recent article about the disaster that wiped out nearly one third of the production of Australia’s Mollydooker most expensive wine. We tracked the story, how the loading equipment bringing wines to be shipped to the US crashed to the cement. We can be assured that the shattering of glass echoed around the world. Thousands of bottles were to get to America, and the young, athletic owner-winemaker, Sparky Marquis, lost 464 cases of their most expensive wine, the Velvet Glove, which retailed in the US for $185 a bottle.
The insurance carrier, fortunately, was covered. They were not new to the family, and had been responsible in the past for these shipments. They had no option but to call the winery and inform them of the tragic loss. Sparky and wife Sarah were out of town, but mother Janet was there to receive the message and dealt with contacting her son to advise them of the disaster. He could only reel back, and in the coming days notify their distributors around the world. Shaken by the incident, but hopeful by taking a first in a couple of competitions, Sparky was thrilled that he still had a supply of cases on the ship. Insurance covered the sting of the instant loss, and local bankers were most friendly, and managed to encourage the young couple to persvere. Insurance funds quieted everybody, and the Marquis family continued to plan their visit to California.
Nine hours after reading my first story about the loss, mother (and co-owner Janet) responded in a reassuring manner to me. When I, in turn, learned of their forthcoming visit, I contacted the winery to say I wanted a quick interview with Sparky and to say hello to his mom. I beseiged their northern california based US Marketing & Events Director, Krissy Miller, to assist me to grab no more than 30 minutes of Sparky’s time before their Westwood Hotel dinner for customers and friends. Eventually I received word I would get the interview, and be invited to dinner to taste more of the wines.
While we sat in a lounge area, crab cakes were served with the one white wine poured. The crab cakes were good, and so was the wine. I also enjoyed a cup of gaspacho later on, but was not thrilled with the steak and potato. If you were a vegetarian or vegan, the pickings were slimmer, and the portions small.
My serious tasting began with the 2008 Sip It Forward (a blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauviginon). Nice, but not as edgy as I prefer. It’s worth its retail price, and can be found for under $25. Next we tasted the Gigglepot, a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, that can be found for $49. This package had both concentrated aromas and flavors that had a mouth feel catching one’s attention. I liked the wine, and after noticing that all their bottles were sealed with screw caps, I could more readily see how their visits to US businessmen and wine experts had paid off for the Marquis family. On a 2005 visit to Robert Parker, and a terrific review, they sold their US supplies in 19 days. This healthy response brought them back to Parker again, and the wines sold out in 5 days! I believe the statistic 90% of what they make sells out. My favorite, of course, was the survivor of the Australian tragedy, the 2010 Velvet Glove, selling here for $185, and for which I received promises that its prices would not be increased. This is a wonderful Shiraz, full bodied, well balanced, complex and with attractive beauty and impressive power. The wine seems wrapped in tremendous fruit flavors, and an admirably long finish.
If you see the survivors of one of a winery’s worst nightmares, drink up what you can get your hands on.