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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nugan Estate Durif 2004

If you like 'em big, the Nugan Estate Manuka Grove Vineyard Durif 2004 (Southeastern Australia) is for you.

Poured straight from the bottle, you might not think there's anything special about this wine. But give it half an hour in a decanter, and it will reward you with a big, rich nose of vanilla and dark chocolate. It's full and smooth on the palate, with more dark chocolate and ripe, dark berries. The spicy, 30-second finish leaves a lingering flavor of unsweetened baker's chocolate.

Even after decanting, the Nugan Durif has enough friendly tannins to stand up to whatever kind of steak you want to pair with it. In our case, it was grilled Porterhouses, and it was a perfect match.

A little history: The Durif grape was developed by François Durif, a French botanist at the University of Montpellier, during the late 19th century. While trying to develop a variety resistant to powdery mildew, he crossed the Syrah grape with the Peloursin variety. He succeeded in that, but the his new variety formed such tight bunches of grapes that it was more prone to rot in the climatic conditions of Rhône Valley.

However, it is well suited for the drier, sunnier climates of California and Australia. It has long been misidentified as "Petite Syrah," which is a smaller variety of the Syrah grape, and in fact the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms considers Durif and Petite Sirah (the name is spelled in various ways) to be the same grape for labeling purposes.
M. Zane Grey, 9:31 AM