Long before it was turned into an eventually doomed Border’s, the Varsity Theatre in my hometown of Palo Alto was the place teenagers could catch The Rocky Horror Picture Show and shows by punk groups like The Faction and Minor Threat. Yeah, despite my predilection these days for quiet art films, Tom Waits and my Galaxy Grey microvan, I have a punk-rock past, which is one reason I picked up a bottle of Raw Power 2009 Shiraz the other day (the other being that it reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons in which Homer takes a new name, Max Power, which he found on a hair dryer).
The label is bedecked with big block letters, a piercing and a mohawk-bearing skull. Still, it would appear that Rawley Power, the former frontman for the Australian punk band Anti-Power, who’s the man behind the curtain when it comes to this wine, has mellowed. These days, his punk roots are mostly in the ground, in the form of the grapes he’s growing for his Old Plains winery, and on the back of the bottle, which includes a wine-themed playlist.
Power certainly isn’t the first singer to bottle it up. Les Claypool of Primus has his Claypool Cellars, and Maynard James Keenan, who fronts both Tool and A Perfect Circle, has been growing grapes in Arizona for several years for his own label, Caduceus Cellars. Those are both domestic endeavors, however; Power grows his grapes in Australia, of course, in a single vineyard in the southern part of the country.
The Raw Power isn’t quite as hefty as some Shirazes, but in many ways that works to its advantage. It’s still full-bodied, but it doesn’t overpower the food on your plate. The classic dark, inky look of the Shiraz is intact, and there’s a lot of blackberry in the nose. You get more of that, along with spice, blueberry and even some dark chocolate, once it hits your palate.
I picked up a bottle for about $15. The only problem was that the final two glasses were left with a ton of sediment at the bottom. But, hey, offering up a little fuck-you after you’ve enjoyed a product? That’s still pretty punk rock.
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