Summertime and the living is easy…. Do you break out the grill — ‘barbie’ in Australian? And to go with your cook-out? Great Big Reds, of course. And why not a poster-child for Barossa shiraz: Mollydooker, The Boxer! (Cheers!)
Great Big Reds, Kreuz mesquite-smoked beef sausage, and Mollydooker’s The Boxer
Our family intersects with Lockhart, Texas, and Lockhart intersects with its very own style of barbeque. German immigrants to Lockhart suddenly had cheap, plentiful beef, and the secret mega-weapon: mesquite. Beef smoked over mesquite? With enough pepper to make it spicy? Hold the sauce and hand me a knife. No, really: used to be, the knives were chained to the tables. You order beef and sausage, they put it on butcher paper and hand you a knife.
Meanwhile, back before we paid so much attention to wine, Mollydooker’s The Boxer was our big treat for special occassions. It’s pretty easy to find in grocery stores and wine stores.
Kreuz sausage + The Boxer = Whoosh! (How’s my math?)
The Boxer, 2014
OK, the art on the label is an acquired taste. Some may fail to acquire it.
Also, note that 2014 was an extraordinary year for Barossa shiraz. Two of our other favorite wine makers came out with practically cool-climate wines. The Boxer 2014 is only (‘only’) 15.5%. For comparison, 2015 was 16.5%.
We love the Great Big-ness of the high alcohol, high flavor, low tannin/acidity. Nowadays, we know of plenty of syrahs that we love, but we also love to come back to our old friend, The Boxer. Make new friends, and keep the old, we like to say.
Maybe the word should be ‘huge’! Coming in at 16% and more some years, with a huge amount of flavor, it’s the essence of Great Big Reds from hot climates. It’s so luscious in the mouth that every bit of your mouth feels bathed in flavor. And, yes, it may be more alcohol than you’re accustomed to, so watch out for that.
We like it a lot. (Can you tell?)
Here are tasting notes from Mollydooker:
“Initially, your taste buds will experience cherry, red berries and plum flavours that develop beautifully into that of spice, licorice, chocolate and cream. The soft tannins and underlining structure contribute amazing depth and lusciousness.”
I wouldn’t argue with any of that. I wouldn’t usually write “amazing” this or that in my own descriptions, but “amazing depth and lusciousness” is pretty right on for this wine. I’d say “extraordinary”.
The Boxer is at the opposite extreme from Cote-Rotie. Hot climate, high alcohol, etc. We started drinking it back in the days when many Australian wines came with a cute animal for each brand, and there’d be six or eight wines lined up on the store shelf with each. This was never that.
Meanwhile the trend now is to daintier wines, even from Australia. Drink whatever you love, but we say, “Buck the trends!” There are plenty of Great Big Reds with enough flavor to match the high alcohol. We think of amarone, sagrantino, and zinfandel. We’ve had super-fancy syrah from Chilean mountains [cough, Montes Folly] that came in at 15.5%. We don’t mean the high alcohol makes it great; we mean you can have great wine and high alcohol. And The Boxer was our gateway to that world.
Pairing Kreuz and The Boxer
The sausage has extreme flavor — mesquite, pepper, beef, fat, salt. It takes a big wine to stand up to all of that. The Boxer takes it on, and we think the combination is a knockout. (Get it? ‘Boxer’, ‘knockout’.)
The feel of the sausage in your mouth is thick from the beef and fat, and spicy-hot from the black pepper. The Boxer — even the 2014 at only 15.5% — absolutely matches the lusciousness. Also, when the chocolate kicks in with the pepper? Raise your hand if you like your chocolate spicy. (!!!)
Our other choice, by the way, when we have Kreuz sausage for a special occasion, is Iron Horse brut sparkling wine, especially their rose. Makes for big contrast and has plenty of flavor and sparkle to pull it off.
Lots of stories go with Mollydooker. Example: founders were both left-handed, and ‘mollydooker’ is Australian for ‘left-handed’. See also Mollydooker Shake. See also their website. ‘Fun’ is way closer than ‘staid’. They don’t shy from levity down under.
Kreuz and Lockhart
Lockhart is a half-hour drive south of Austin, Texas. It was started by German immigrants, and you still see some of the culture in their descendants.
They put together plentiful beef and mesquite — mesquite is a hard wood that burns hot, adds a *lot* of flavor, and basically grows like a weed across the Texas Hill Country, just west of Interstate 35.
In Lockhart, there may be more bbq per capita than anywhere. Kreuz (pronounced ‘krites’ like ‘kites’), Smitty’s, Black’s, Chisolm Trail. It’s a small town. Last time I was in Black’s, they still had a picture on the wall of my mother as Drum Major, leading the Lockhart High School band back in the 1950s. (Go Lions!)
You can order sausage and beef and have it shipped overnight or 2-day air.
Lockhart’s the kind of place, when I lived there briefly, the woman who processed my driver’s license remembered my father’s parents who had lived there in the 1950s, and of course she knew my great-aunt who was in her nineties (born 1899). The shops on the town square and just off were/are a memorial to locals who made their livelihood providing goods and services to the locals.
The Great Big Reds of Summer
In wine culture, a lot of people think of Great Big Reds as a winter-time passion. It makes sense: if you want to enjoy all wines equally, lighter/cooler wines in summer are a pretty obvious choice.
On the other hand, if you’re just-plain hooked on Great Big Reds, you learn to adapt, even to the hottest, sweatiest times.
Tricks of the truly dedicated:
– take some time to cool off
– stay cool in the air conditioning
– drink a big glass of cold, bubbly water
– start with a glass of bubbly (champenoise!!!)
– swimming pool
– take a cold shower
– put the red wine in the refrigerator
That last one… seriously: softens the tannin/acidity, and it’s cold. Your rose works in hot times because it’s cold, so why not your reds, if you’re that desperate? Australians make sparkling wine out of shiraz, served cold; you can put your everyday Great Big Reds in the fridge, too.
We’re crashing a party put on by a group of very knowlegable wine writers who get together once a month to share articles on pairing wine and food, and chat about them in Twitter with: #WinePW. This month it’s grilled food and Australian wine.
Tune into #WinePW in Twitter at 8am PT, 11am ET, on Saturday, June 9, 2018!
Liz Barrett of What’s in that Bottle? says “You Say Syrah, Australia Says Shiraz.”
J. R. Boynton of Great Big Reds will be pouring “Great Big Reds of Summer: Kreuz, The Boxer, #WinePW”.
David Crowley of Cooking Chat” will be making “Grilled Steak with Garlic Butter and an Aussie Shiraz Blend”.
Lisa Denning of The Wine Chef has “Surf And Turf On The Barbie — Shrimp And Lamb Paired With McGuigan Wines”.
Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm’s Table will be “Cooking to the Wine: Dandelion Vineyards Shiraz and a Miso-Soy Strip Loin Feast.”
Wendy Klik’s A Day in the Life on the Farm is “Taking a Second Voyage with Burgers on the Barbie”.