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Tait’s Ball Buster shiraz blend, paired

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Cold weather begs for big and burly reds. Deep and brooding with just enough ripe fruit to remind us that spring and summer will come again. This winter begs for a wine like Tait’s “Ball Buster” and with a name like “Ball Buster” it has to be from Australia. This great Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot blend from Barossa Valley was going to be called Michelle’s Block after the winemaker’s wife, but that just didn’t express the powerful and robust nature of this wine, so he went for another name. “Ball Buster” is certainly memorable, and with a decade of 90+ scores from Parker’s Wine Advocate, we all have to agree on its quality. Both the 2010 and 2011 vintages were outstanding and should still be available in most markets, and at under $20 per bottle, it’s well worth a try!

The 2011 “Ball Buster” has that deep purple color showing hints of scarlet, and on the nose I get black currant and blackberry with just a hint of violets. Since this is mainly Shiraz there is some black pepper on the mid-palate and finishes with just a hint of cedar and spicebox to give it complexity. This full-bodied wine is a fruit bomb, but also has structure and longevity, so it’s a fruit bomb with balls, one could say. Hints of toasty oak and vanilla finish out this incredible wine.

This wine is easy to quaff, especially in these cooler temperatures in North Central Florida, and it’s such a complete experience, you don’t have to pair it with food, but if you are, here are some ideas. Smoked pork would be ideal, especially if you used a black pepper-based rub. I’d also pair this wine with any good quality barbecue, but I think smoking the meat would bring out the toasty oak notes in the wine. Of course you can have it with grilled steaks on the “barby” but I’m reminded of some delicious lamb I had on my last visit to Australia, which would match up to the flavors in this blend very well. Again, if you can grill the meat, you’ll bring out the subtler flavors (and get beyond the fruit juiciness of the wine). That ripeness means it can also work with some spicier preparations without being overwhelmed or having to compete. If you can get Gainesville’s local Buffalo Tempeh, available at the Citizen’s Co-op and at Ward’s Supermarket (if you’re lucky), I’d pair that with this wine as a great vegetarian option.

This wine is good enough to build a meal around it. It’s available locally at your ABC Fine Wines and Spirits, in Florida, but look out for other outstanding Shiraz blends from other well-known producers, if you can’t quite bust your balls (and it is Tait, not taint, just to make sure!) Cheers!

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