We suppose it would be possible to buy this way at a fairly big discount store with well-marked counter cards identifying the wines that were highly rated. But the easiest place to to it is online, as we did with our recent order.
We've now tried a few of these bargains to bark about, and today we want to celebrate one that frankly surprised us. Pillar Box is a winery in South Australia that has been putting out award-winning wines for more than a century.
The winery is named for the proprietor of the 19th century mail service that picked up its boxes of wine for delivery elsewhere. The Padthaway area winery also makes Henry's Drive and Parson's Flat wines, but its Pillar Box Red refers to the color of the wine cases, which had been all hues of the earth until someone finally said all would be identifiable red.
The famous wine critic Robert Parker loves the Pillar Box Red and consistently gives it high ratings. We bought the 2007 red, which is a mix of 65% Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. Parker gave it a 90. We bought it for $9.95, but we've seen it a bit higher elsewhere. Even the winery's Reserve Red — also high rated — is less than $20.
The deepness of the red color scared us when we opened the wine. This was not the color of blood, or even dried blood, but a deep mountain lake filled with dried blood. It is so red, it's purple. But the flavors are wonderful. It was perfect with the homemade mushroom soup and popovers we were serving, because it is earthy, spicey, full of black currant sharp fruitiness.
We find unfamiliar Australian wines a crapshoot because the Aussies love to make distinctive wines of conviction. That means they are often unique, and sometimes just don't work on many people's taste buds. But this is one beefy, deep red, hearty wine that is great with lots of different foods.
Speaking of beefy, this wine would be perfect with a medium-rare steak or a lamb chop.