Some Young Punks — Taking Excess to Extremes

squid fistYou gotta love those Aussies. Who else in the whole wide wine world would have the nerve to put comic book art on their labels? And a “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea” monster, no less.  These labels will have one of two effects on wine buyers: it will scare the bejesus out of them (the hide-bound traditionalists); or it will have them running, not walking, to buy themselves a bottle.

So who are the miscreants responsible for this wine? Jen Gardner, Colin McBryde and Nic Bourke call themselves Some Young Punks, (click to check out their very cool website) and they’re out to make “exceptional wine with small estate charm.” They’re also out to set the wine world on its ear, or at least shake up the stodgy wine industry professionals and old-fashioned wine drinkers who value restraint and propriety. I mean, really, who else would name a wine “Monsters, Monsters Attack” (an off-dry Riesling with more comic book art on the cover), or create a second line with art from vintage pulp fiction book jackets — not the movie Pulp Fiction, but the cheesy novellas published in the 1940′s and 50′s. Take a look at “Quickie”, a Nebbiolo/Shiraz blend. Need I say more?quickie

The Punks declare that  “these labels are as bright and intense as the wine they clothe.” But are they any good?

I’ve tasted just one wine so far,  The Squid’s Fist 2007, and it’s certainly no slave to tradition. What’s in the bottle is a few feet off the beaten path (no surprise there…). Squid’s Fist is an unlikely blend of 61% Sangiovese and 39% Shiraz. This is the first Sangiovese I’ve seen from Australia, which is a long way from its traditional home in the hills of Tuscany. Young Punks Sangiovese is grown in the warm climate region of McLaren Vale, where the heat produces very rich, ripe grapes, much higher in sugar content (and therefore alcohol content) than their Italian cousins. This style reminded me of good California Sangiovese, like the kick-ass one made by Seghesio Vineyards. It would no doubt horrify an old Italian, but it sure blends well with Aussie Shiraz.

Squid’s Fist leads with a nose that gushes fruit — rich jammy aromas of blackberry and licorice. The palate is as ripe and fruit-forward as you’d expect, with dark blueberry, black cherry and a hint of vanilla. The finish lingers, or just clings to your palate with velvety softness. Does that sound good to you? It was to me, but it’s unarguably a prime example of the over-the-top Aussie style. There are critics out there who wail and gnash their teeth over the huge fruit, high alcohol style, but I’ve never met an Aussie who gave a hoot. They’d say, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the Southern Hemisphere.” I say, drink it if you like it. And if you also have a chuckle over the wild and wacky label, so much the better. Cheers!

The squids Fist 2007 $1799


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