The southpaw that I’m referring to is none other than those luscious wines of Mollydooker
(which refers to a left hander in Aussie-speak). Sparky and Sarah Marquis (pronounced marcus,
not markeese) started the label just 2 years ago after a phenomenal winemaking run at Henry’s
Drive, Shirvington and Marquis Philips. Wines produced by the couple routinely garnered 95+
points from Robert Parker and their dream of owning their exclusive winery was realized in
2005 with the creation of Mollydooker.
Down Under at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas
We attended a wine release dinner featuring 7 of Mollydooker’s latest 2006 vintage (a total of
11 wines were released this year) at Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas. I must say that Sparky Marquis is the
MOST entertaining winemaker I’ve ever met. A combination of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve
Irwin, the winemaking skills of Helen Turley or Heidi Patterson and the irreverence of Alton
Brown with a bit of Professor Irwin Corey thrown in for good measure.
I laughed as much as I learned about the wines of Mollydooker. However, these Marquis blokes
are just as economically savvy as they are humorous. Sparky mentioned that his better half,
Sarah Marquis now designs the Mollydooker labels with a purpose in mind. For instance, if you’
ve ever purchased a bottle of Mollydooker, you’ll notice that the label is larger than usual
taking almost two thirds of the bottle circumference. You can either view the picture on the
label or the wine name but not both. You have to pick up the bottle to view both. Market
research shows that customers who pick up a bottle of wine are 50% more likely to purchase
that bottle. You may have also noticed that the back label that details where the vines are
located, alcohol levels, etc is perpendicular to the main label. That’s because market research
also shows that customers who hold a bottle in two hands are 75% more likely to purchase that
bottle of wine… ah! design with an ulterior motive. To finalize wine label evolution, Sarah
Marquis also includes all necessary wine information (Mollydooker name and specific wine and
vintage) on a mini “Post-It” like tear away tag that the taster can simply remove from the back
label in case they ever want to make a future purchase of said wine – all without having to
memorize the label. Label design genius indeed!
We started the evening with Mollydooker’s only sparkling wine – Goosebumps, which is 100%
sparkling Shiraz (which is very popular Down Under). This is the one wine that needed food. I
felt that the carbonation highlighted the bitter edges of the Shiraz. As an aperitif, the bitter
edges were a little too much. If paired with a rich beef appetizer, that slight bitterness may have
been balanced on the palate. Sparky mentioned that Goosebumps was particularly good with
breakfast fair, especially breakfast in bed though he did warn tasters that if you followed his lead
and had small children in the house, to lock your bedroom door!
Next up were three of their Lefty series of wines (which retail for ~$20 to 25); The Two Left
Feet, Maitre’D and The Boxer served with a Duck Confit with Penne Pasta in a red wine sauce.
The Two Left Feet was a Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet blend with a light raspberry, cherry nose
and medium body with a short finish. The Maitre’D was a Cabernet with a little more body and
tannins than Two Left Feet but drinkable upon purchase. The Boxer once again should garner
90+ points with ripe sweet red fruit (though not a sweet wine) with a moderately long finish.
The 2005 vintage was wine #68 in Wine Spectator’s top 100 wines; the 2006 should also make
this year’s top 100 list.
One of their Party Series – Blue Eyed Boy, one of their Love Story series – Carnival of Love and
their exclusive Velvet Glove was served with a Sous Vide of Veal Short Ribs (I’ll highlight the
benefits of Sous Vide cooking in a future column).
The Blue Eyed Boy was pure Shiraz with a restrained red fruit nose and spicy fruit on the palate.
It wasn’t as powerful as The Boxer but a lot more refined. Also pure Shiraz, the Carnival of Love
was still a little tight aromatically with ripe red fruit but once on the palate, WOW!
Concentrated ripe fruit with a nice spicy quality but not overwhelming and with a very long
finish. Where can I get some?
We ended the evening with Mollydooker’s flagship Shiraz, Velvet Glove. The Marquis clan only
plan on producing a Velvet Glove if the fruit weight exceeds 95% by their own proprietary
measure. Therefore it may not be produced every year and even if produced, it will be severely
allocated (it’s only available to distributors in 3 packs).
Before the Velvet Glove was served, Sparky demonstrated the Dooker Shake. After uncorking two
bottles of Velvet Glove (retails for more than $150 per bottle), Sparky proceeded to shake the
daylights out of each bottle. He rationalized that since Mollydooker filled the empty airspace in
each bottle with pressurized nitrogen gas, the flavor molecules were distorted and needed
agitation to round out (simple decanting can accomplish the same). Though these were his
highest priced wines, he treated them with same irreverence as $20 bottles – don’t think you
will ever see the Baron Rothschild doing the same with his Lafite Rothschild.
The Velvet Glove was a little like the Carnival of Love – still a little closed aromatically –
though with a lot more finesse than Carnival of Love. Like comparing a mid level Lexus with a
top end Mercedes, both are excellent but the Mercedes just having a little more to offer.
I plan on purchasing the 2006 The Boxer once again, by the case if my local wine purveyor has
an ample supply. If I do feel like shelling out $80 or so, the Carnival of Love would make an
excellent addition to the cellar (though at this price range, there are many excellent wines that I
would also enjoy). And if I did come across $150 lying around the house, would I pick up a
bottle of Velvet Glove (if I could find a bottle)? No, I’d probably purchase 2 bottles of Carnival
of Love or more likely, 8 bottles of The Boxer. And maybe a little food to pair with The Boxer.
The Right Wine from a Lefthander