Dogs. There’s just no escaping them. One recently appeared for two weeks in the neighbor’s backyard. “Just visiting,” we were assured. Bah!
We found ourselves relying heavily on some good wines to get through this invasion. Imagine our disgust, then, when we found a book squeezed between two bottles dedicated to dogs who work at wineries. Picture after picture of various canines posed in and around the vineyards. After all the love we have expressed for wine, to find that dogs have been given the joyous task of appearing among the grapes.
It almost put us off wine.
Then we found a pair of nice Australians tucked away, clearly waiting for someone who could truly appreciate them. Both wines are from the d’Arenberg winery in the McLaren Vale region. And both are named after cats.
First, a little background. D’Arenberg has been in business since 1912, and occupies a choice piece of hilly country. The winery still uses traditional methods, including foot treading and basket pressing. The current head of this family operation is Chester Osborn and it seems Chester is a fan of cats. So much so that he’s named two of his wines after favorite feline companions – No Booze Allowed and Audrey.
Both wines are a blend of Sagrantino and Cinsaut. Sagrantino is most closely associated with Italy and is often the primary grape for reds from the Umbria region. It tends to produce wines that are bold and heavily fruity, balanced by strong tannins. It definitely lends itself to aging.
Cinsaut, on the other hand, is more closely associated with the Southern Rhone region, and is usually blended with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. It’s a grape that loves dry conditions, and has become the go-to choice for much of North Africa and the Middle East. Cinsaut has very low tannins and is perhaps best known for the amazing nose it lends to a wine.
No Booze Allowed aka Booze aka The Cenosilicaphobic Cat is the more every day version of this wine. Young versions of this wine tend to be strong on the tannins and carry a very concentrated flavor. A little time in the bottle, however, does wonders to open up the wine. Tannins become smoother and more evenly blended, and the beautiful nose of the Cinsaut really shines through.
Audrey is remembered with the Athazagoraphobic Cat. As with The Cenosilicaphobic Cat, this version, at least in its early years, is heavy on the tannins. With a little patience, however, you will find that this wine will you have dreaming of ripe raspberries and plump cherries without the sugar overload. Balanced, beautiful, it’s a wine that will make you happy to be in the company of cats.