I’m Not Sure the Magpie is Really Laughing


2006 d’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz $19

I know, the bottle says Shiraz-Viognier as if it’s a blend, and not a Shiraz.  However, the wine is 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier making it a Shiraz by definition.  I think that’s important to know.

Leave it to the Australian’s to blend two unlikely grape varietals.  I love their risk-taking mentality and willingness to put something out there that is a bit different. 

When I read the story about why the wine was named, Laughing Magpie, I had to give it a shot. 

Plus d’Arenberg is a highly respected winery and receives many great reviews for this particular brand.

But ultimately it was the name that lured me to this bottle.

The winery’s vineyards are home to the famous bird, the Kookaburra, known for it’s unique laughing call. 

The winemaker’s daughters apparently kept two, wild, Kookaburras as pets and named them the Laughing Magpies.  A Magpie which is black with a stripe of white feathers, has no resemblance to the Kookaburra in an sense but somehow the name stuck. 

The winemaker creatively wove this tale into the name of his wine as the Shiraz is black in color and the Viognier is white…like the Magpie.  I have to say I give him an “A” for creativity.

This particular vintage has had many good ratings, most prominently by The Wine Advocate of 92 points, which is a decent rating for a Shiraz.

The label indicated that this young wine would benefit from decanting and even aging for another 3-4 years.  I think they are right.

This wine was extremely abundant in tea-like tannins and cinched my tongue up like purse strings upon the first sip.  It shocked me, but not that I wasn’t warned.

Bold characters dominated mostly by phat, black fruit of blackberry, cherry and blueberry come pouring through.  This is a young, full-bodied wine with a strong purple color in the glass and a bit of hotness on the mouth.

I drank this wine over three days to see if it would calm down.  It did. 

This is a very ageable wine as indicated by the apparent tannic-structure.  The label says drink through 2020.  I’m not sure about that.  Maybe 5-7 years would be my guess. 

However, if you are looking for a wine to go with some very big luscious, hearty food in the near future, I would recommend opening this bottle right after breakfast and decanting it ALL DAY.  Yes, it will take all day to get it to an enjoyable softness.  It’s a big one.

The wine definitely has personality and is interesting enough to give it a try.  It just needs a little coaxing (aerating) to allow its better characteristics to reveal themselves.

So did anyone have a laughable drink last night?  I would love to hear about the comedy.

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15 Comments

  1. Flea 1

    No laughable drinks. Am struggling with a migraine, meaning no wine or beer for me till it passes. Even a sniff exacerbates it. :(

    Reply
  2. grace 2

    kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
    merry, merry king of the bush is he,
    laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra,
    gay your life must be.

    do you know that song? awesome.

    Reply
  3. I accidentally came across a lovely pairing of Frascati with a nice spinach-feta tart I made with some fresh goat cheese. I just happened to have the bottle in the fridge, and its light, floral fruitiness ended up being a perfect foil for the rich, creamy tart. I love it when things work out, despite my best efforts to screw them up. 😉

    Reply
  4. Deb 4

    Great review Cathy! I am mostly a white wine drinker, except on the occasion that we have a heafty steak or rack of lamb. Hubby is a total Cabernet drinker but every once in awhile I twist his arm to try something new. So this may be on the list!

    Reply
  5. Kate 5

    Your knowledge of wine continues to amaze me. I wouldn’t have known to aerate this little number.

    Reply
  6. I drank a house pinot grigio the night before last that was quite paletable. It didn’t make me laugh, however I was laughing while I drank it!

    Reply
  7. Krissy 7

    We are having a wine and cheese Pto meeting next month. I cannot wait!!!!

    Reply
  8. You reign supreme… your taste buds… your knowledge. I bow in your general direction :)

    Reply
  9. Henre 9

    Hi Cathy, didn’t have a laughable wine, but when I saw your reaction to the odd “blend” of Viognier and Shiraz I remembered the Food”>http://tinylink.co.za/5db98a”>Food and wine Pairing evening I attended the other night.

    Fairview, the hosts, have a Pinotage”>http://www.fairview.co.za/index.php?page_id=8&prd_category=4&prod_id=12″>Pinotage Viognier which I found rather interesting, don’t you think? Not sure about the percentage make-up of the blend though.

    Reply
  10. Danni 10

    This is a really old post, but I can’t help but comment on the sentence “leave it to the Australian’s to blend two unlikely grape varietals.”

    Actually, the blend of Shiraz (Syrah) and Viognier is a French idea, originally from Côte-Rôtie.

    Reply
  11. Jon 11

    I drank a house pinot grigio the night before last that was quite paletable . It didn’t make me laugh, however I was laughing while I drank it!

    Reply
  12. wl 12

    Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris – my favourite whites. Grove Mill Pinot Gris has to be the best. I love the after-taste of the Pinots.

    Reply
  13. I love the pinots – pinot grigio and gris – my favourite is Grove Mill Pinot Gris from Marlborough, New Zealand.

    Reply
  14. More posts please! This site is great i sound like a wine buff at dinner parties!

    Reply
  15. this site rocks the boat, cracking up here, thank for brighten my day

    Reply

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