The Friday Fermentable: Thanks to Mark Giordano at Robert Oatley Vineyards and Open Thread

When you read The Friday Fermentable posts I’ve written, you know that I am not a wine writer or connoisseur but rather a wine enthusiast. (The posts by my colleague Erleichda, however, are far more content-rich.)
My original post launching this feature details my wine philosophy, one that reflects my general philosophy about life: enjoy life, learn about everything you can, but don’t be a snooty, arrogant ass about it. Wine appreciation is meant, IMHO, to be inclusive, not exclusive.
Despite my not being a “professional” wine writer, I was delighted last week to receive a comment from Mr Mark Giordano, President of Robert Oatley Vineyards. You may recall that we wrote about Aussie Shiraz. I remarked on my disappointment about the decline in quality of the grad student-affordable Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Shiraz since the Oatley family sold the brand to a big conglomerate. In researching the post, I remarked on my excitement that Mr. Oatley at age 80 has launched a family-run winemaking enterprise that harkens back to the quality he originally intended. Mr Giordano states:

I quite liked your comments on Shiraz. The reason Bob Oatley, a spry 80 years young, has decided to start a new brand is because Aussie Shiraz can be quite elegant and balanced. You may be surprised to taste the new Robert Oatley wines as the comment I most commonly hear is “quite refreshing style from Australia”. We just launched a bit over two months ago in seven states as we want to be smart about putting one foot in front of the other. I noticed you mentioned RTP – I am a UNC-CH graduate and from NC originally (Winston-Salem). I presume you are in this area and if you are you will be pleased to note that we will be distributed in mid-2009 in the Tarheel State. Check us out on and if you want to try some of the wines – they are available on Thanks for the kind words about the Oatley’s – they are great people.
Mark Giordano
Robert Oatley Vineyards

There is clearly a buzz about Oatley wines. I tried to order some tonight from (which I hate to use instead of using my local merchants) and I learned that the 2008 Pinot Grigio was already sold out.
So in the meantime, drop us a comment about what you are drinking tonight or over the weekend and why. There is a good selection of Oktoberfest lagers out there and I have started drifting into darker beers like Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout, a staple of the winter Pharmboy cupboard. Depending where you are in the world, this may also be a good time for drinking vintage port.
Drop a line and drink well!

5 thoughts on “The Friday Fermentable: Thanks to Mark Giordano at Robert Oatley Vineyards and Open Thread

  1. From the Friday afternoon tasting at the Frederick Wine House hosted by Russell Benson of Bacchus Importers:

    2006 Oberon Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley ($13) –
    quite nice. less citrus/grapefruit than the New Zealand style

    2005 Maretima Nero d’ Avola Sicilia IGT ~ Italy ($11) –
    excellent pizza wine. very flavorful without being heavily tannic

    2006 Maretima Primitivo Puglia IGT ~ Italy ($11) –
    Zinfandal “cousin”, but to my taste too thin to be compared to the California style and not flavorful enough to fit into the pizza/pasta wine category.

    2007 Maretima Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC ~ Italy ($11) –
    A very clean wine with more restrained acidity than you might expect. I don’t think this would work well by itself, but would be excellent with a variety of foods.

    Maretima Nero d’Avola from above
    Blue Cellars 2005 Petite Syrah, Jada Vineyard (Paso Robles) ($40)
    Ballentine Vineyards 2004 Syrah (Napa) ($26)
    Ridge 2006 Zinfandel, Three Valleys ($23)
    Ridge 2006 Zinfandel, Pagani Ranch ($41)

    Hitting real fall weather here in Frederick, so I think it is almost all red wine for while

  2. At the time of your post last night, I was just finishing up a wonderful home cooked dinner with two good friends, and we were savoring the rich goodness of Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale. It’s delightfully malty and also very nicely hopped (without being overpoweringly so). This ale could easily become a staple of my cold weather cellar. Note that the website says a comparable wine is a Shiraz.

  3. And… speaking of vintage port, have you discovered the truly awesome taste combination of vintage port and Mature Wensleydale cheese? The cheese itself is a bit on the sour side, but when chased with a sip of good port it becomes one of the most memorable and pleasurable tastes I’ve known.
    I first discovered this due to a reference to it in one of C.S. Forester’s Hornblower novels.
    The cheese also goes very nicely with a fresh pear.
    It’s not easy to find a good, mature Wensleydale here in the US, but if you have a good local cheese merchant, you may be able to find some. I highly recommend the combination of port and Wensleydale as an accompaniment to good after-dinner conversation.

  4. Dr Double-Z, we’ve got to catch up for dinner next time I’m up for study section. That dinner sounded fabulous and I was interested in your Ridge Zin purchases. A friend recently asked me to write about them (their recent prices have been a little steep for me) so I may consult you for some comments when I save up a few doubloons to taste them.
    chezjake, great suggestions. Our well-regarded local beer merchant is highly likely to have the Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale so I’ll get over there during the week to try some.
    Lovely how you learned about Wensleydale with port from literature. I’ve done the classic Stilton pairing with vintage port but this is a new one for me. My father-in-law gave me a bottle of 2000 Fonseca VP to celebrate my new position so I’ll check with our wine folks to see if they can score me some Wensleydale – they have a very good cheese selection.

  5. Sure, come on by. Come early so I can do my duty as an evil NIH bureaucrat and slip you the mind control drugs :). We opened the Pagani Ranch last night. I used to buy a lot of Ridge Zins and late 90’s early 00’s I had enough tastings to pretty confidently say that I liked the Pagini Ranch better than the other bottlings. My wife and I visited Sonoma 4-5 years ago and went by the vineyard. Really cool 80-100 year old head trained vines. Platonic ideal of gnarly. It turns out (at least so I was told) that the St. Francis winery also gets grapes from the Pagani Ranch site and puts it in their “Old Vines” bottling. As that goes for less than $30/bottle it gets harder and harder to justify the Ridge. Anyway, it was on the shelf and despite the price I got it for old times sake. It certainly was pretty much as I remembered; “inky and stinky” as my wife says. Pretty much what people point to when they talk about a big, highly extracted California Zin. My wife and I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I’m really not very confident that there was anything that you can’t find in any number of $20-30 Zins that are around. I have a number in my cellar so maybe if you get up here we can do a comparison.

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