In the absence of accolades, budget restriction, brand or word of mouth, choosing wine as a gift is sometimes as simple as choosing the prettiest label. Undeniably, a bottle with the most striking packaging will attract and, by the look of the cover, we will buy that book. It helps that the world of wine attracts artists: people who honour a finely honed craft, and who believe a label is a personal stamp of pride. These are the wines that make the best gifts.
Justin McNamee’s dad told him to become a winemaker because he was too dumb to become a vet. I’m glad. I could sit and listen to McNamee for days and, like taking my very first ever sip of wine, still be parched for more. I’ve worked in the wine business for nearly two decades; McNamee reminds me why I love it so. His personality, like his wine, has the X factor. I challenge the most anti-vinous to sit with McNamee and not fall in love with the juice. In his own words: “I am a tradey. I am studied in the grape, the vine, and the beverages of wine. I trade wine for cheer and all that we love in life.”
Trading from the land of milk and honey (aka South Australia), McNamee is a salt-of-the-earth, self-proclaimed bullshit-smith. I disagree. He is an artist, a wordsmith, a poet, accurately describing what wine is so enviably that I want to plagiarise his every word.
McNamee doesn’t just produce a bottle of wine. He creates the means for a personal experience. To McNamee, wine is more than a commodity, more than a gift. It is spirituality and a personal journey. Given properly, when you give the gift of wine, it’s more than a bottle of booze. It’s like sharing the track you want played at your funeral. It’s your all-time greatest novel, your favourite movie. You want desperately for the person receiving it to have an equal empathy. Why spend time and money on a label for a bottle of wine? Because you want to give an indication of what is inside that mysterious glass shell.
McNamee believes so much in his wine, that he has put an equal amount of detail and love into the label as the liquid itself. So very well thought through, Samuel’s Gorge wines from the McLaren Vale showcase three-dimensional mosaics that wrap around the entire bottle. The pattern of life, experience, people, place and tradition engrosses you so much, you’ll find yourself reaching for a magnifying glass. You can identify this wine from every corner of a room. The heavy Italian-imported, deep-punted glass bottle incorporates the highest quality in cork, personally air freighted from Spain by McNamee, who believes in the romance of the ‘pop’. This touchy-feely bottle is one you don’t want to gift wrap. It’s not bullshit. It’s care, consideration and pride in the liquid itself.[info]
December Wine Recommendation
Samuel’s Gorge McLaren Vale Grenache 2010
An oil slick in a glass, this meaty Grenache is more Old World Spanish road-kill than New World jam. The 50-year-old bush vines that gave up their fruit for the bottle have produced a savoury and feral expression of the variety, all with ever-so-elegant acidity. A perfect ‘food wine’ and accompaniment to a clove-spiced Christmas ham, it has hot earth aromatics followed by tarry raspberry flavours and a super-rich, velvety finish. McNamee’s own tasting note: “Everything on the nose spills on to the palate and glides into the heart.” What’s not to love? Snap it up now from Regional Wines and other Wellington wine specialists.