Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Long Neck Wines

When I was back in Michigan last December, my sister-in-law, Sue, offered me a glass of Long NeckShiraz, a wine out of South Africa. "It's only five bucks a bottle!" she told me. Sue loves a good bargain.

Now I am not a wine snob. True, I've moved beyond Beringer white zinfandel, once the wine of choice for me and Mo when we worked on various writing projects (we wrote an entire script for one of our MFH shows while giggling and schnockered on white zin), and I'm not a fan of the ubiquitous Two Buck Chuck (liked the first batch, but the quality became inconsistent. No big shock considering the quantity they produce). But I still believe that good wines don't necessarily always come with high price tags.

True, some of the less expensive shiraz's and syrahs and blends that I've had from Australia seem kind of bland to me...pleasant enough, but just...boring. Like drinking high octane berry-grape juice. None of the interesting aromas and flavors of the more complex wines, the kind of complexity that makes me want to linger over a glass for an hour or so (hey, it's happened!) instead of downing it like soda. And the only other South African wine that I've tried (I've long since forgotten the name or the varietal) tasted like vinegar, so I wasn't expecting much from the Long Neck. I mean, this was Michigan, where you pay 20 bucks for a wine you can get for less than $10 in California. Five bucks? South African? No thanks!

Boy, was I pleasantly surprised when I got my first whiff of the Long Neck shiraz...old raspberries, loamy, dark berry aromas (don't ask what other kind of berries, please. Dark ones!), with a slight spiciness that was usually missing from the cheap shirazes I'd tried. I took a sip and yup, the taste lived up to the aroma, with a heavy mouthfeel and...lo and behold, a finish! The flavor and feel didn't just vanish in the mouth after swallowing. Wow.

I raved about the wine to Sue, who was, I think, most gratified with my response. We polished off the bottle that evening and I insisted on going to Meijers and buying more. Five bucks a bottle? Booyah! I had much Long Neck shiraz that trip and brought a bottle back to California with me. Then, being fickle in my wine buying, I promptly forgot about it until a recent email exchange with Sue (she rhapsodized about the taste sensation of pairing chicken marsala with the shiraz) reminded me of just how much I like this particular wine. So I went on a hunt for it up here in the Bay Area.

Imagine my surprise and chagrin when I couldn't find it. I mean, I can get this in Michigan, fer crissake! Michigan, land of limited wine choices! Unless you like cherry wine and then you're in luck. But here in California, NORTHERN California, WINE country California, Napa, Sonoma, Anderson Valley...where, oh where, was the signature giraffe logo of Long Neck?

So I went online and found the website (linked above) for Long Neck. Sent them an email inquiry asking where I could find my beloved Long Neck shiraz in San Francisco. I got a response from Andrew, who works for their supplier here in California. Talk about public relations! Not only did he apologize for not being able to find anyone who sold Long Neck in my area, but gave me the names of two stores that would order it AND brought me some Long Neck (and other wines supplied by his company) from his distributor when his work brought him to San Francisco.

Even better than the wine, however, was a chance to meet a really nice person, fellow wine geek and interesting conversationalist. After working in Hollywood for so many years, you get used to players, to people who always have hidden motives, who want something from you. It's refreshing to be reminded that there are just some good people out there. All this from a simple email inquiry.

Well, okay, he did want something. In return for the wine I have been charged the task of being an ambassador for Long Neck, which will require going to wine stores and wine bars, and asking if they carry the wine. No, no, don't make me go into wine bars and wine stores! Don't throw me in that thar briar patch, B'rer Wine Man!

At any rate, to start my job as Long Neck ambassador (ambassadress?), I hereby charge you, all of my wine loving compatriots, to try Long Neck Shiraz (and other varietals) if you can find it. Look for the giraffe on the bottle. And if you can't, ask why not! Don't worry, I'll share my wine with you.

4 Comments:

  • At 1:42 PM, Blogger FreeThinker said…

    Thanks for the Shiraz tip!

    But I am easy to please ...

    Give me Gnarly Head and I'm a satisfied man!

     
  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger zhadi said…

    You have to try some of the reds from Brutocao! They are awesome...

     
  • At 2:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm sipping Long Neck Merlot right now. I was in a little neighborhood store, and they had it on sale at $4.59 (us) so I said, "Why not?" When I got home, I saw that it was S. African, and I was a little skeptical.

    I'll be the first to confess that I am a complete wine idiot - but I know what tastes good. And this Merlot tastes good.

    It kind of wanders pleasantly between your mouth and nose without causing any traffic jams, letting you know it's there without jarring you. It's a pleasant harmony.

    Even more bizarrely, my wife likes it, and she prefers things that gag me, like Sangria. Weird.

    I'd buy more, and that's more than I can say for a lot of wines at that price.

     
  • At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I saw your post as I am on the hunt for Long Neck wine! Do you know ANYWHERE in California that I can purchase it? Or Anywhere that I can order it from? I am trying to purchase it for a good friend of mine!

     

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