australian wines

What a wonderful way to spend an evening at the Metropolitan Club in Chicago at the top of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. Dan Killey from the Grateful Palate was in for Cellar Night to share and educate us about some of the Grateful Palate's delicious Australian wines.

Dan Kiley, Grateful Palate

The Grateful Palate is a wine importer and mail-order epicurian foods company created in 1997 by Dan Philips. It has not gone unnoticed by us that Philips is also the inspiration behind the Bacon of the Month Club, and we love the tagline for the Grateful Palate: "A Lifestyle for your Tongue." Well known, or perhaps, infamous, for their launch of their wildly successful South Australian Grenache under the titilating labe of "Bitch," The Grateful Palate could fall victim to the belief by some that they are more about style than substance, shock value than true value.

We think that would be a shame. The Grateful Palate has assembled a fine collection of Australian Shiraz offerings, including wines by rockstar- status producers such as Chris Ringland, Trevor Jones, Rick Burge, Marquis Philips, Noon, Kay Brothers, Greenock Creek and more. GP focuses mainly on South Australian Shiraz, primarily from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Padthaway, but also great Shiraz from regions like Heathcote. They also have other varieties like old vine Grenache, Cabernet, and Riesling. In 2007 GP introduced their first wines from California: Napa Cabernet and Merlot and old-vine Mourvedre and Carignan. We especially love their attention to detail in the labeling process. Clearly they enjoy the artistic value of the labels, bringing in up-and-coming young artists as well as veteran label designers to add a distinctive look to their packaging. We find their thinking, fresh, fun and innovative, in a good way.

Brief Tasting Notes

We had the opportunity to sample 6 wines:

R Wines, Roogle 2008 Riesling, very light and dry, not too sweet, lovely. Brazilian designer produced the really fun label. This wine is an excellent value.

R Wines, Darby and Joan 2008 Chardonnay, personally not high on Chardonnays in general, but other folks seemed to enjoy this one.

R Wines, Permutations 2007 Pinot Noir, good solid Pinot, light and crisp, paired nicely with our duck tasting. A unique and memorable label.

Trevor Jones, Boots 2007 Grenache, very nice, we all really enjoyed this one, very smooth and rich. French oak barrels. We enjoyed the cherry flavors that can be found underpinning the spicy notes in this wine. The "Boots" label and idea comes from the fact that Trevor Jones likes his own boots very much and is reported to wear them just about everywhere.

R Wines, First Class 2006 Shiraz , really enjoyed this one. Unique boarding pass type label and “baggage tag” neck ring make this a great bottle of wine for gift giving. Unlikely we’ll share ours, though. We just like the wine too much and ordered several bottles to hoard for ourselves.

Trevor Jones, Dry Grown, 2004 Shiraz, French Oak, dry grown, tasty but we preferred the First Class Shiraz at this tasting.

Chef Sean from the Metropolitan Club did a solid job on the food pairings. We had a delicious bit of duck with foie gras sauce and crispy taters. Just smashing with the Pinot Noir we tasted. We also enjoyed a delicate salmon in plum sauce which paired perfectly with the First Class Shiraz.

Although we didn’t taste it this evening, The Grateful Palate also carries a Majella Sparkling Shiraz that sounded fantastic by Dan's description. We’ll definitely be on the hunt to find it and let you know what we think. Dan did a great job explaining the history of Australian wines and of Grateful Palate. We'll go into more detail on the New World Wine Scene, including Australia's vibrant community in other articles. In the meantime, check out The Grateful Palate. They have some terrific wine selections, very moderately priced. We ordered some First Class Shiraz and the Grenache.

For more information about these wines and all the offerings available from The Grateful Palate, yes - including the Bacon of the Month Club - go visit You'll see they've started a Grenache of the Month Club that might be worth investigating too!