Christmas has lobbed early at my joint. At the end of last month, I got a tip from a wine writer mate, Ben Thomas (@senorthomas) to buy some Oomoo Sparkling Shiraz, which, according to Ben, was an ideal cellar filler for the festive season. Yeah, like it’ll last that long at my place.

It was a special online deal and an absolute snip at $108 a case (delivered). You reckon that’s good? Think again. With the case of the 2004 — yes, 2004 — sparkling shiraz came a bottle of Moet Imperial, usually priced at somewhere in the mid-50 buck range. The deal has finished, although there is talk that it will be reposted within the next two weeks. Monitor the site, people, if you know what’s good for you.

I’m a bit of a fan when it comes to sparkling shiraz. (OK, if it passes the lip test, I’ll like it. The lip test is, by the way, if it’s wet enough to pass through the lips, it’s good.) After popping the cork on the Oomoo, nothing had changed. This fella is of mid-ranged sweetness and is deep red with a full body — not quite a middle-aged spread, but you get the drift.

On the nose, Hardy’s suggests fresh cherry and satsuma plum notes (I got the cherries, no plum though) and mulberry jam, whatever that smells like. I kept getting strawberries and cream, which probably means my olfactory set-up is really an old factory set-up. I did get the chocolate and spice thing, although the claimed liquorice was among the missing.

On the palate, it says raspberry fruit with dark cherries, nougat and spice. I’m sticking to the strawberries and cream thing. There’s a pleasant bit of oak and it finishes well. Hardy’s suggests that it would go well with duck liver pate, quail and game meats and Christmas pudding.

(The explanatory label on the back of the Oomoo is in Japanese, indicating, I guess, that the company had punted on selling truckloads in the Land of the Rising Sun, something that perhaps didn’t come to fruition. No matter; it’s the taste that matters. And anyway, sometimes after drinking a bottle of something, the label may as well be written in Japanese anyway.)

My choice probably broke the rules — I opted for a Middle Eastern lamb tart. No matter. Besides, I’d just had an “I want to bake a tart” epiphany.

And bake I did. It’s a filo tart of spicy lamb mince (I bought lamb chunks and cut it into a one-centimetre dice — it’s a texture, have-a-chew kind of thing) with hummus, fetta and topped with a tomato, onion, parsley, mint, sumac, olive oil and lemon juice salsa. All up it took maybe 45 from start to eat.

I did, however, have the mandatory whinge using the filo. Why is it so difficult to use? I reckon it’d be easier to knit an aircraft carrier, but having said that, my filo turned out OK.

But what a good eat it was, especially washed down with a glass or two (OK, it was a bottle) of the Oomoo. The full recipe is at the bottom of my blog.

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