24 February 2011

Witches Falls 2008 Granite Belt Grenache

I've been watching the trend nervously for years.

First came the adoption of the man-bag. Then David Beckham came out wearing a skirt, and a brigade of little Emo popstars led a dubious dash back into the world of male mascara.

Not long after followed the troubling occasion when my 10-year-old nephew informed me that he needed some money to buy nail polish.

"We've already had Mother's Day, mate", I told him.

"No, stupid, it's for me. All the cool kids are doing it. I think I might go for a nice shade of French black", he replied.

"How about a nice shade of harden-the-French-up, sonny?", I muttered. "And it wouldn't kill you to get a haircut either."

And then, this morning, came the straw that finally broke my camel's back. As I waited in line at my favourite little caffe bar for my daily doppio, the bloke (and I use the term loosely) in front of me placed an order for something which he described as a "weak soy chai latte". I don't know what that is and I have no desire to find out, but it sounded like he should have been ordering it for his grandmother. At Starbucks.

What I do know is that I felt emasculated just standing next to him, and found myself wishing fervently for Derek Zoolander to walk around the corner and start a freak gasoline-fight incident in downtown Eagle Street.

And so, in the interest of suppressing the metrosexual Revlon-revolution and reviving some good old Johnny Weissmuller-type masculinity, this week I'm revisiting a big, bruising red that was dished up to me during the Christmas party season at a restaurant where the walls are decorated with butchered bovine and the seats are upholstered with their hides.

The wine compendium in this upmarket meat-market was thicker than Ricky Nixon's skull, and offered at least seventy-five gazillion options. As there were a few of us, we decided to put two different straight (un-metrosexual) grenaches head-to-head. Being that we were also trying to prove a point about good quality Queensland wine to a southerner with a superiority complex, our first pick was the Witches Falls 2008 Granite Belt Grenache. The second was a Barossan offering weighing in at almost twice the price of the local contender.

They came accompanied by outrageously generous slabs of Wagyu rump served up roasted, rubbed and blushingly rare; an artery-choking carnivore's delight requiring the lubrication of equally powerful wine.

The waiter kindly carafed the contesting wines so that we could pick the winner without the influence of labels and reputation. And, you guessed it, the champion by unanimous points decision was...the youngster from Queensland. I was as (pleasingly) surprised as anybody.

So, how was it?

It pours out with a patriotic maroon glow (much deeper than the Barossan), and the heavy alcohol (15%) shows itself off with thick dark legs dancing around the glass like a Beyoncé filmclip.

Give it a little time to open up, and the nose is a super-scented bomb of turkish delight sweetness, with a heated, spicy edge that alerts you to the beast lurking within.

It might be missing an apostrophe, but it’s not lacking in flavour. The drinking is a warm (but not over-cooked) food fight of plummy, egotistical goodness. A hegemonic hit of fine, saliva inducing tannin rounds out the experience.

Definitely a case of the bear in the glass dealing comprehensively with the bull on the plate. I had no idea that Qld wine could be this good.

At the end of the meal, I was stuffed and sleepy and felt like someone had slipped me a Jeffrey. All that remained was to stroke the furry wall and follow my Destiny.

Boom chicka wah wah.

In truth, both wines were good, and the Qld'er only just edged the Crow Eater for mine. But at the price, and for this much power and finesse, the Witches Falls also represents good value.

And if a restaurant takes this much care even at the cheaper end of its list, imagine what the top shelves are like. I'm looking forward to revisiting them - just as soon as they finish pumping the floodwater out of the basement, and with the boss is picking up the cheque of course.

Rating: 8.5/10
Drink with: Eat more beef, you bastards!
Price: $27 retail ($49-$65 in restaurants)


  1. I don't know what is more surprising....

    Aussie boys asking for Nail polish


    a decent Stanthorpe Grenache

    Times are a changing.

  2. Good to see the grammatically incorrect Witches Falls getting some more awareness. It's a great CD too and I'm also fond of their Shiraz.


  3. ..."stroke the furry wall"? :-)

  4. Darren, I may have been (re)watching Get him to the Greek that week... :) TC