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The 1999 Macaw Creek Shiraz (78%) Cabernet (22%) is, perhaps, best described as an Australian rendition of great Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The wine’s tremendous aromatic profile is the first sign that this Hooper Reserve is something special. Redolent with the scents of ripe blackberry, violets, and white pepper, its entrancing aroma can quickly fill a room with its breath. On the palate, the wine is truly sublime. Open knit and decadently rich, all the textured fruit this mature Châteauneuf-du-Pape like wine ever possessed is still alive and well; its savor completely fills the mouth as well as the senses. Add in a pinch of spice and a smidgen of pepper and the 1999 Macaw Creek Shiraz Cabernet Reserve takes on a monolithic quality that is hard to resist, right down to the last drop in the glass and the gargantuan finish that stays with you for thirty seconds or more as a reminder of just how tasty this wine is. The 1999 Macaw Creek Shiraz Cabernet Reserve puts to shame other renditions of this popular blend, and for that it is all the better. Approaching its apogee, this exuberant unfined unfiltered wine still benefits from an hour or more of aeration, but it is ready to drink straight away, with a mere perfunctory swirl. For optimum enjoyment, we suggest serving this delightful elixir at no more than 68º F.
The 1999 Macaw Creek Shiraz Cabernet Reserve is sure to be a hit at any convivial gathering, whether it is an elegant dinner party or a simple impromptu get together. Indeed, this wine carries its own welcome with it, so food is strictly optional. However, one can’t go wrong pairing well-prepared dishes of comparable quality with Rod Hooper’s flagship wine. Consequently, we suggest simple, but artfully prepared selections with this mature Macaw Creek offering. Lamb Stew, with a tomato base, herbs, and plenty of beans or lentils to highlight the Rhône like qualities of the wine is always a perennial favorite. A Herbe de Provence-Grilled Chicken Breast, with rosemary fries, makes another fine accompaniment. Grilled Loin Lamb Chops and fine cuts of beef will do justice to the wine as well. Nevertheless, for adventurous eaters the most memorable meal we have had with this Macaw Creek Reserve is kangaroo steak; grilled rare and served under a canopy of chanterelle mushrooms in a red wine reduction, there is nothing better. Enjoy!
Macaw Creek is hard to find. In the middle of what seems like nowhere, one could easily miss the turn off down an all but concealed dirt lane to Rod Hooper’s charming 19th century winery, which bears the undistinguishable look of Little House on the Prairie and the Wild West. The low stone structure that constitutes Macaw Creek is a tiny, neatly kept winery, replete with an attached storage shed and a cozy antique tasting room, which is often aglow with a wood fire and always ablaze with proprietor Rod Hooper’s passion for pioneering the Gilbert Valley, South Australia’s small but rapidly growing wine region.
Rod Hooper is all but a one-man band at Macaw Creek. Nearly single handedly, he has resurrected his family’s old farmhouse and winery and become the voice for the burgeoning number of wine growers and fledgling wineries popping up astride the low South Australia hills of the Gilbert Valley, about an hour an half north of Adelaide. He is truly a pioneer, much as his ancestors were more than a century and half ago when they came as free settlers to what we now know as South Australia. Thanks to Rod’s forebear, a skilled stone mason, the winery and several nearby stone buildings still survive, more or less intact. One such structure, now overgrown with flowering almond trees and a high field of tall grass and wild flowers is slated to become a bed and breakfast, a popular concept among small wineries whose cash flow and customer base have remained relatively tiny, in spite of selling annually all of their wine in short order. Fortunate will be the lucky souls who get to bed down at the Hooper’s. The wines are great and Rod’s mother knows how to cook and welcome weary travelers, too.
Rod Hooper is a man with a vision, and there is little doubt that he has succeeded in fashioning some of South Australia’s most compelling wines. From his tiny Macaw Creek winery, Hooper turns out a wide range of excellent traditional Australian reds, including a quintessential Grenache Shiraz that contains traces of Cabernet and Malbec for added grip, one of the best organic Shiraz in all Australia, and a beautifully wrought Shiraz Cabernet Reserve that recalls some of the finest examples of Châteauneuf-du-Pape we have ever tasted. Rod also fashions very nice Riesling and is experimenting with other grape varietals, including Sangiovese.
As a trained oenologist, Rod has taught at the university and assists other area winemakers in the burgeoning Gilbert and nearby Clare Valleys. In addition, Rod fashions wines under contract for some of the biggest and most prestigious wineries in Australia. Indeed, Rod Hooper is a man with energy, vision, and the talent to make things happen. Consequently, his wines win many awards and are strictly allocated due to limited production and tremendous consumer demand. Cheers!
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