Thursday, August 18, 2016

Marquis Name on the Marquee

Luke (the Blue-Eyed Boy) and Sparky Marquis
Mollydooker Wines are almost as big as their creator's personality. And if you've ever met the ridiculously aptly named Sparky Marquis, you realize what that means for what you're swirling in your glass (is it swirling itself, it's so brawny?). He's the kind of man who can perform--and it really is a bit--what could easily be a three hour wine tasting/presentation in 45 minutes, while dropping in jokes like, "We make nine reds and one white--we think that's the right ratio," and, "Growing a grapevine is like growing a weed; I, uh, have to be careful about saying that in California,"  and, "I get asked how long should you age our wines, and I say, 'How long does it take you open to them?' That's even faster now that we're all screw cap."

Marquis did his well oiled schtick for the Central Coast Wine Classic this past Sunday and it was a tasty hoot. Anybody following Australian imports the past couple of decades should know Marquis, as he came to fame as part of Marquis Phillips, where he made wines like the 9 Shiraz that Robert Parker threw a thesaurus at: "flamboyant, opaque purple-colored, full-bodied effort revealing notes of espresso roast, chocolate, smoked meats, and toasty American oak. Fleshy, full-throttle, pure, and intensely concentrated...." But then Sparky and Sarah Marquis and Dan Phillips of Grateful Palate had a falling out (ah, business), and now Marquis is all about Mollydooker, the Aussie term for left-handers (he is, his wife is, his daughter is, 50% of their original workers were)(author's note: I am also left-handed, and do believe we are superior).

If you ever wondered what someone meant when they called a wine a fruit bomb, just grab a Mollydooker and guzzle. Marquis has a patented watering program that would never work in California--you need, uh, lots of water--that allows him to keep the vines bipping and bopping right at the point of survival, in a way engineering something similar to what people can get from old vines (almost always hailed as the vines that make the best wines). I'm sure it's more technical than that but: 1) he didn't have much time for details and, 2) I'm not a scientist, and haven't even ever played one on TV. (I did once play Tor Johnson in a short film, though.)

That makes the wines, of course, delectable. Somehow they are balanced, even with alcohol levels approaching your favorite port at times. Marquis pushes an idea of "fruit weight"--that is, how far back on your tongue you feel the fruit. The better their wine, the more your tongue gets lost in the bramble patch of berries. It's a clever way to explain things, and it's more than a clever way to sell wines like Mollydooker. Plus, they market so well--clever, attractive labels, the works. You just have to give a big tip of your screw cap to people having so much fun making something that is so much fun in such a fun way. Try the Boxer for a start, and see if you want to climb the luscious ladder from there.

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