When wine becomes more than a hobby: Fetish Wine

We’ve all met them. Those people who have gone from having an interest in wine to being passionate about wine to having a fetish for wine. It starts off innocently enough, but soon spirals out of control. You’ve seen those tell-tale signs. First they start off innocently dabbling a little with wine tastings with a lick and a deep trill of the wine on the tongue. Next they have a favorite clerk at the wine shop that they furtively seek out time and time again. It’s not enough to get their recommendation; they need the clerk’s full attention, to share stories, to share wine secrets. Then they are planning vacations to be closer to wine regions and their oh-so available tasting rooms. Finally, you catch them with fetish-ware all over the house. Things like fancy wine openers, crystal stemware for specifically made for various varietals and those neck rings that they slip over the top of the bottle.

I might know some people like that.

I might be one of those people.

Beautiful Wife and I decided to invite a friend over for a wine tasting. We let her know we had something special. We let her know it was going to be more than a one bottle night. We let her know we meant business. She was game.

Our first wine was Fetish Wine 2008 The Watcher, Barossa Shiraz. Beautiful Wife poured three glasses and set them in front of each of us. We were so eager to dig in, but before we could reach for the glasses, she turned to our fair guest and asked if she would like to watch this round. With a wry smile, she sat back in her chair. She sat close enough to dip her nose deep into the mouth of the glass to smell the wine, but she didn’t dare lift the glass to drink. She didn’t taste it with us. She watched us enjoy our wine.

Look She: Unrequited desire restrained in leather.Me: Violaceous and vibrant, a young bruise pulsing with excitement.
Smell She: The hot musk of a waiting lover, lying just out of reach.Me: A potpourri sachet in the lingerie drawer with dried blackberries, anise and spice.
Taste She: Begged for a drink. She strained at her restraint. She longingly watched us taste the wine.Me: Satisfying, round blueberry with an ample mouthfeel and just enough tannin to keep a slight pout on Beautiful Wife’s lips.   
Price $18


She was completely flush, breathing fast and cooing softly by the time we finished. Watching us blissfully lick the last bit of nectar as it dribbled down the curve of the globe, she closed her eyes and sighed contentedly.  

You know who else has a fetish for wine? Mike Opdahl, the winemaker for Fetish Wines, that’s who. He loved wine so much he started a winery in 2004.  Now that’s a fetish. Fetish makes three other varietals. Mike told me about one he thought I might like; Playmates.

Playmates is an intermingling of three of the best grapes from the Barossa Valley: Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro. What goes better with a ménage à trois of Rhone style grapes than a third friend joining us for a tasting?

Beautiful wife poured three glasses of Fetish 2008 Playmates Barossa Valley and invited our friend to join us. She gingerly massaged her her hands in anticipation and gratefully joined us as we lustfully dipped into our first taste. Oh god it was good, the three of us soaking it in together.

Look The amethyst of her mood ring glowed as her biodynamics heated up.
Smell A buzz of frisky alcohol tickles the nose before playful raspberry, strawberry and blackberry preserves get dolloped on in healthy spoonfuls.  
Taste Full frontal display of luscious mounds of supple berries, full bodied and bold, before sliding in a cedar mouth-bit for a lingering, spiced wood finish.
Price $18


Even if you haven’t slipped down the slippery slope into a wine fetish, Fetish wines can satisfy your desire for saucy, sinful decadence. These wines are great to share with friends in any type of setting. Strip off the cap and try it.

Fetish Wine provided samples of each wine for review.

What are you drinking?

Chasing the Dream: Razor’s Edge Wine

The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.” In the 1944 novel, The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham, the main character Larry Darrell eschews a traditional lifestyle for a nonconformist and less financially rich life. He gives up his fiancé, his lucrative stockbroker job to search for meaningful and spiritual experiences in a wandering journey through post WW II Europe.

Have you ever felt like doing that? Have you felt like throwing away the traditional life and a comfy career to follow your dreams? Michael Opdahl, winemaker for Razor’s Edge Wine, did just that. In a recent conversation with Mike, he regaled me with a story of a young, whiskey and beer drinking man from the Midwest who strayed from his path into the unknown to chase a passion.

Mike got involved in the wine industry after a casual encounter with wine. After one glass, wine turned into a hobby, wine became a passion, wine grew into a part-time job and then then wine became his life with a full-time career as a winemaker. Back in 1997, he moved to California for a rewarding job in finance. While at a party, the owner of the company he worked for gave him his first taste of quality wine; an Australian Shiraz. Mike fell in love and by the next day he was off on a buying spree that turned into a serious habit. He was soon buying 10-20 cases a week and stocked a respectable cellar of Australian wines.

After famed wine expert, Robert Parker, published his first reviews of Australian in 1999, Mike realized he had a business opportunity to resell the oodles of cases of high scoring wine. He did that for a while and then got an import license to really get the business rolling. He soon became an importer for Two Hands Winery and built a successful wine importing business. That wasn’t enough to slake his thirst for the wine industry.

In 2004 he embarked on his Razor’s Edge moment and started Razor’s Edge Wines and Fetish Wines (more about Fetish in this blog post). He set out to make affordable wines with top quality grapes from McLaren Vale. Razor’s Edge produces about 50,000 cases at a co-op winery in McLaren Vale, Australia. The grapes are sourced from a select group of small growers that farm the Willunga, Padthaway and other sub-regions of McLaren Vale.  Mike has a close relationship with the growers and the Razor’s Edge vineyard manager works with them to determine the right time to harvest and quality of grapes for each varietal.

Razor’s Edge wines are barrel aged in both French and American for varying lengths of time depending on the varietal. The Cabernet is aged in French oak, and the Grenache is stored in neutral barrels to let the juicy fruit flavors shine through.

Here is what you can expect from them.

2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache

Look The satin lining of a smoking jacket: translucent, bright, Bing cherries with dried cranberries at the edge.
Smell A bowl of boysenberries, raspberry brambles and fresh strawberry preserves.
Taste The ’08 Shiraz Grenache blend comes on like a black cherry Jolly Rancher, powerful, tart and fruity. The mid-weight body has a light mouth-feel and eases into an intermediate-length finish filled with anise, cedar and blackberry. This wine is fruit forward but doesn’t get all Carmen Miranda on you. Drink it with a meal or on its own.
Price $12

2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz

Look Like a surrealist’s interpretation of a razor cut; violets and blood, deep reds and purple, translucent bordering on opaque.
Smell A big nose of zippy blueberry juice and tart blackberry.
Taste This is a signature McLaren Vale shiraz style with lush plum, jammy blackberry, vanilla balanced with mild tannins and zippy alcohol. It has a nice, long finish framed in oak. It is approachable on its own, yet big enough to stand up to a steak dinner.
Price $10

2008 McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon

Look A vivid glass of ripe mulberries, both translucent and bright.
Smell The ’08 Cabernet has a full aroma of tart dried cranberries, and spiced blueberries.
Taste It tastes like a blood red meat served with a peppercorn, baker’s chocolate and blackberry reduction sauce. It is balanced with hints of glycerin and just enough tannins to give it depth. Its finish lingers with oak, but politely doesn’t over stay its welcome.
Price $14

Razor’s Edge wines are distributed in 47 states. If you live in the Dakotas or West Virginia, you are out of luck. It is also distributed throughout Europe, Canada, China and Singapore.

The conversion from Mid-western financier to Aussie winemaker probably wasn’t easy, but these affordable, award-winning wines certainly don’t reveal the winemaker’s background. Mike Opdahl has captured the spirit of McLaren Vale with fine, hand-crafted wines in a boutique winery.

Razor’s Edge Wine provided samples of each wine for review.

What are you drinking?