Wine — Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave

By Tim Protzman

The wine guy goes spelunking, drinks some beer 

Gigi had big news for us. We thought it was the impending arrival of yet another child. She was that excited.

“My EuroCave arrived!” she explained all aglow. For the uninitiated, a EuroCave is a temperature-controlled wine cellar that keeps the bottles at a constant 55 degrees and 65 percent humidity. It’s perfect for storing her collection of Bordeaux.

Gigi was a Grey Goose martini drinker until her husband splurged on a bottle of Chateau La Tour-Haut-Brion to celebrate the successful potty training of her son, Henry. It was a big night for Gigi and ever since she’s been smitten by the wine bug. Oh yeah — and nine months later James was born.

Gigi’s wine habits are a little different from mine. I try to drink as many different kinds of wine as possible. I shop, buy and consume. Gigi is a collector. She shops, buys and stores. Consuming is an afterthought.

Lately, she’s been hunting 2001 Australian Shiraz. And like any good collector, she can’t leave the store with anything less than a mixed case.

Here are Gigi’s Australian Shiraz picks for the week, which she graciously allowed me to sample with her, in the dim fluorescent sheen of her EuroCave.

• 2001 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz (74 percent) Cabernet 26 percent — The suppleness surprised me; fruity, but not intensely so. Brawny, but not tannic; tart blackberry and sour cherry tones. $11.99.

• 2001 Charles Cimicky Daylight Chamber Shiraz — Well-rounded, structured with hints of chocolate and blueberry coupled with the spice and smoke of French Syrah. The back label explains the Daylight Chamber was where the vineyard workers gathered to play cards during the hot Australian summer.  $23.99

• 2001 Black Opal Shiraz — I see why the British are not buying expensive Bordeaux and are turning to Australia and New Zealand. This was fruity, grapey, with big tastes. No tannins and fresh. Lacking a Medocian Structure, but that’s to be expected of a $10.99 wine.

• d’Arenberg 2001 McLaren Valley Laughing Magpie. Shiraz and Viognier 95 percent and 5 percent respectively — Tannic, but the Viognier cuts the Shiraz perfectly. The best Aussie Shiraz I’ve tasted. Almost French, but without the smoky peat flavor or smell. You can taste the Viognier sweetness. $15.49.

• Grant Burge 2001 Shiraz — not quite Rhone-style, but not a big, peaty fruit load like most moderately priced Aussie Shiraz. This was a modest claret in style, taste and bashfulness. $9.99.

Somehow humans are hard-wired with the urge to accumulate. Stamps, coins, wine, baseball cards, artwork are a few of the better-known examples. I have a sizeable collection of Buddhas as well as a few antique toasters. My close, personal friend is a compulsive gardener. seventy-two different varieties of flowering plants grace her quarter-acre yard.

And it was on a trip to a wild flower farm that we stumbled upon a restaurant that houses, “New England’s Largest Collection of Beers.”

Beer, being older than wine, is owed a debt of admiration. Sometime in Cro-Magnon era some grain got wet and the party started. Thank you, natural fermentation. Here’s a review of a few of the 231 beers available at “New England’s Largest Collection of Beers.”

John Courage: With delicious foam on top, this slightly dark hop and malt beer is the Budweiser of the UK.

Cave Creek Chili Pepper Beer: Forget the lime. Put a Serrano chili pepper in your brew. Spicy and thirst quenching, this beer is best served very cold. Light wheat taste.

Berkshire Brewing Company Ale: This British style beer is made with Hops, Barley and small amounts of wheat. At 55 degrees the full flavor commences.

Lambic Framboise: A Belgian raspberry flavored beer that has a high alcohol content and a smooth creamy flavor that makes you swear this is a soda pop.

Find your bottle

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission can help you find your beverage with a click or two. Just go to, type the name of your wine into the product locator and click “go.” The site’s search engine will come up with a list of stores that carry the bottle you seek.

—Tim Protzman

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH