Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Visit to the Cartoon Decorated Molly Dooker Winery

(Feb. 15, 2016) I must admit that I’ve never been a fan of cartoon wine labels, but at the same time recognize that they have helped Molly Dooker to differentiate itself on the global wine scene. However, given the fame of their wines now, I’m not sure that the cartoon labels are still necessary. And indeed, they have dispensed with this custom on their high-end Black Velvet wine, which comes in a simple black bottle. On the other hand, the cartoons are part of what attracts many of my Millennial wine students to this winery.

We arrived around 11:30 in the morning without an appointment to find the tasting room was an old house converted into cellar door. Situated on a hill, the view from the terrace is very beautiful.  As we entered, we passed several large cartoon cut-outs (see photo) and we greeted instantly by a friendly lady at the front desk in a small living room.

A Sparkling Verdelho and Wine Shaking System

She asked if we wanted to taste wine, and when we said yes, she invited us into a second room with a large table set-up with 12 different wine bottles in stations. Again, there was no tasting fee and we were invited to try anything we wanted. We started with their everyday casual series of wines and enjoyed the novelty of a sparkling verdelho. We were especially impressed with the “shake system” on most of the wines, where you shake the bottle to release the CO2 capsule inside so the wine remains fresh.

Tasting the #2 Wine in the World – 2012 Carnival of Shiraz

However, it was the more premium wines on the other side of the table that really impressed us. I had tasted the 2012 Carnival of Shiraz at the Wine Spectator Grand Event in New York two years ago, but we were allowed to taste it again (for free!!!), even though they were sold out. We were encouraged to compare it against the 2014 that they had just released. Both had incredible concentration, velvety berry and spices, excellent complexity and one of the longest finishes I have ever tasted on a wine.

I’m always amazed that Australians are so generous with their famous wines, allowing the casual visitor (we never introduced ourselves) to taste whatever we wanted. This would never happen in Napa or Bordeaux, unless you were willing to pay a lot for the tasting.

Blue-Eyed Boy Shiraz

We also tasted the very high-end Velvet Glove wine, and found it to be a more elegant shiraz made in a lighter style. But it was the Blue-Eyed Boy that we fell in love with and purchased a bottle to take home. This wine was dripping with blueberry and milk chocolate, with huge velvety tannins and a spicy finish. Though it lacked the elegance of Carnival, it was extremely satisfying in the big, lush, mouth-filling manner that we’ve come to expect of a premium Australian shiraz.

Molly Dooker Means “Left Handed”

As we were finishing our tasting, a large group entered the tasting room, and we were happy we arrived when we did for a quiet and uninterrupted tasting.  As we departed, the hospitality rep offered to take our picture in front of the small fireplace in the living room with the Molly Dooker sign above. We learned that in Australia, the term “Molly Dooker” refers to a left-handed person. Both Sarah and Sparky, the owners, are left-handed.

View of Vineyards from Molly Dooker

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