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Shiraz & Moroccan Lamb Burgers

Four generations of Osborns have farmed the gnarled old Shiraz and Grenache vines at their d'Arenberg winery in Australia's McLaren Vale. Though the family has known both good times and bad, these days it's enjoying worldwide success. The chief winemaker, Chester Osborn (a flamboyant figure with long golden curls), is a traditionalist who's obsessed with old-fashioned, labor-intensive methods, such as crushing select grapes in 19th-century wooden basket presses; he even has some crushed by foot. The result is an impressive range of red and white wines with filled-in, concentrated flavors and curious, folkloric names like The Dead Arm Shiraz, The Custodian Grenache and The Footbolt Shiraz—named for a champion racehorse whose six-race winning streak in 1912 helped its owner, Joseph Osborn, found the winery. Deep purple, densely packed and complex, the 2001Footbolt ($18) is, as Chester Osborn says, "the Thoroughbred of the d'Arenberg stable, the most consistent reflection of our vineyards each year." He adds, "Our single-vineyard wines, like The Dead Arm, are different depending on the vintage, but I spend a lot of time blending The Footbolt each year to make sure that it always reflects our trademark style—rich and ripe but never jammy or over-the-top." Such bold flavors mesh perfectly with the assertive spices of the Moroccan-inspired lamb burgers, with their tangy mint-yogurt sauce, from consulting d'Arenberg chef Sally James, and the combination is, like the Osborn family, anything but dull.

—Richard Nalley

Published June 2004


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