Zeepaard is a line of introductory-level wines from West Cape Howe out of Western Australia. The wine is named after Het Gulden Zeepaard (the Golden Seahorse), a Dutch ship that first sighted West Cape Howe in 1627. According to the Scheepvaartmuseum of Amsterdam, a really cool museum dedicated to maritime exploration and shipping that I visited in 1999, "Vertrek van Pieter Nuyts met het schip 'Het Gulden Zeepaard' voor een ontdekkingsreis naar de zuidwestkust van Australië." That's a note on an anniversary calendar of important events, and means, roughly, correct me if I'm wrong, "departure of Pieter Nuyts with the ship Golden Seahorse on an exploration near the southwest coast of Australia". If you know some English and German, reading Dutch is pretty easy. Pronouncing it is a whole different matter that requires a lifetime of eating pickled herring and salty licorice to properly train the vocal cords.
The wines are all affixed with convenient screwcaps (four cheers!) and retail for around $10.
2009 Zeepaard Sauvignon Blanc
12.7% abv, 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Crisp, lemony, with pink grapefruit pith aromas and flavors. A classic example of the Down Under Sauvignon Blanc style. Knowing that the crisp acidity goes well with vegetarian dishes and dairy, I served it with a goat cheese and spinach pizza.
2009 Zeepaard Chardonnay
12.5% abv, 100% Chardonnay
Pineapple and mango, very ripe, very tart and fruity. The ripe fruit explosion here is incredible, and while I tasted this on its own I'd recommend something spicy and full of flavor, like a curry or vindaloo. Even Thai or Mexican food would be interesting. It's too strong for something like baked salmon, roast chicken, or a salad, further proof that not all Chardonnays are identical.
2009 Zeepaard Rosé
12.7% abv, 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Pinot Noir, 4% Shiraz. Somewhere a Frenchman is crying over that mix of grapes, but I applaud the creativity. Bright strawberry/raspberry aroma, with matching flavors and a tart acidity. There is a slightly tannic, reddish finish to the wine. It's sort of dark for a rosé--not complaining, but it's a little more fuller bodied than you might think. I decided to try a fun pairing with a big bowl of aromatic phở tái. The red grapes went nicely with the beef, but the rosé style was a great compliment for the basil, sprouts, and savory broth. Certainly my favorite of the group.
2008 Zeepaard Shiraz
14.2% abv, 100% Shiraz
Black cherry, hint of licorice, a little leather. Very firm tannins, long tart finish. It's a good standard Aussie Shiraz, and I served it with my recent big batch of Sunday Gravy. It would also be great for barbecues this summer, with things like burgers and Polish sausage.
These wines were received as samples from The Country Vintner.