Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tait Ball Buster `08 (not TJ's) $17.99 ***(*)

I'm going to rave about this wine, because it is a total contradiction and I love contradictions - hence the (*) to four star. This blend of 76% Shiraz, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Merlot is incredibly sophisticated.  When I say sophisticated, this wine makes you think.  First sip, whew, rough.  A strong taste of dried fruit, soft tannins, and well, my tongue needed a break - for a second or two.  Of course we opened it as dinner was being cooked, so I was tasting it alone.  Then, on my second sip, the complexity hit me.  It had the taste of dried fruit (blueberry, cherry) with some earthy undertones and then the tannins, which were oak(y) but disappeared quickly. See, sophisticated - like getting a great electronic present and then realizing you have to read the owners manual to really be able to use it.  This wine forces you to stop and think about it and then once your head is wrapped around it, it is totally enjoyable.

The contradiction?  It is called Ball Buster (hee hee - my inner child is stuck at 9) and it is from Southern Australia. This wine is also a screw top. The screw top is a great economiser, which can recoup some of the expenses in producing this blend. Tait Wines have a craftsman/artisinal view to their products.  I appreciate that, and I appreciate their "Ball Buster" humor. A very good wine, but plan appropriately when drinking it. I expected plonk, and what I was served was an enjoyable education in a glass.

After decanting with the Soireee, the Ball Buster became smoother and more velvety.  There were some spice notes that jumped out after decanting (ed. thanks to the comment below cloves + nutmeg), I would say go ahead and decant this before drinking.  It definitely opens up the wine.  I will also be demoing a new aerator in the next two weeks.... it looks like there may be a better one out there than the Vinturi (my current champion).

Now for the menu.  I was a guest on a beautiful Saturday evening. Miranda styled the pictures as her parents cooked in the kitchen, I drank and wielded my new (to me) Nikon. I took the picture above, and then out came the Head Cheese.  There is a story behind head cheese, part of our dinner table conversation over the past month has been the making of head cheese after butchering a pig (all things that I experienced in my childhood in rural Maine).  So, SMF bought some head cheese at Karl Ehmer's, and I am proud to say that for the first time in my life, I have eaten head cheese (really just ham is aspic - not like the stuff of my childhood nightmares).  The wine went well with the Head Cheese.

We then moved inside for a dinner of:

"Herb Garden Pasta" - Fresh Basil, Parsley (picked from the patio as we were tasting the head cheese), tossed in pasta with a chopped tapenade of capers, anchovies, olives, olive oil and tomatoes.  It was an amazing pasta with strong but not overwhelming flavor.  It paired really well with the Ball Buster.

Mouthwatering fresh corn on the cob from Rottkamp Brother's Farm (I will be doing a post about this farm-stand in the near future - it is amazing!), fresh bread and perfectly grilled steak. The wine in the crystal glass on the left is Muldersbosch Rose. For dessert, we demolished an Apple Tart from Leonetti's, and there may have been Limoncello involved!

You can see from the (not so great) picture on the left that we left the Soiree in situ.  I still think that it is the most awkward of aerators that I have tried, but it did the trick as it was all we had.  (Although, I do think that a classic decanter could be found, I am still enamored with toys...)


  1. spiciness = cloves + nutmeg

  2. THANK YOU! (but I was secretly thrilled that I at least got the blueberry notes!!!)I am working on my palate. I just need more practice, practice, practice!!!!