The Wine Curmudgeon is not a big fan of shiraz. The excessively fruity, alcoholic, inky style that is popular in the U.S. is almost undrinkable to those of us who see wine as a complement to a meal and not as an endurance contest.
That's why, when I find a wine like the Jim Jim (about $12, sample), I'm always happy to write about it. It has the characteristics of shiraz that make it interesting, like its fruitiness and spice, but it doesn't taste like it was made for a frat boy Friday night. Best yet, it's reasonably priced from a producer that offers value. Winemaker Hugh Hamilton is a bit of a curmudgeon himself, and takes pride in doing things a little differently from the rest of his fellow Aussies. There's a reason, he says, that his winery's symbol is a black sheep.
And yes, there is an actual Jim Jim -- he's the winery dog, getting older, reports Hamilton, but still as cantankerous as ever.
Pair the Jim Jim with almost any red meat -- steak frites come to mind -- and duck, which I ate with the wine, worked too.