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Forkmedia LLC


by Fred McMillin
for November 16, 2000


Terrified at the Temple


"The fiercely independent Bakhtiari (bakh-tee-ah-ree) nomadic tribe of southern Iran marched on Tehran and drove the Shah from power for several years."

...Our guide as we approached Masjid-e-Sulaiman, The Temple of Solomon.

"Abdullah Bagheri,
of the nomadic Bakhtiari".

The Rest of the Story

I've had arranged for some very exotic cooking lessons for my wife, but I had overdone it this time. Our feeble auto of unknown pedigree was laboring up the narrow, tortuous road leading to the southwestern edge of the rugged plateau where the Bakhtiari had roamed for untold centuries.

The sun was going down and our anxieties were going up. Then, with a start, we realized we were not alone. The hills were dotted with motionless Bakhtiari shepards, clad in distinctive gray tunics and hemispherical black skullcaps. They surveyed our passage with silent disapproval.

The next morning we met our first Bakhtiari, Abdullah Bagheri. Ominously, he was brandishing a spectacular array of metal skewers. Then, he broke into a broad smile (photo), and my wife was soon observing the preparation of the ancient marinade of yogurt and spices, to be applied to cubes of lamb and joo-jay (scrawny but wonderfully flavorable young chickens). Deftly threaded onto gleaming steel, Bakhtiari Kebab was ready for the charcoal grill.

All this happened only 200 miles from Shiraz, so of course, today's wine is a Shiraz. But first, a few words about the city. We mentioned the Persian plateau...Shiraz is 5,000 feet above sea level. Here are words from the guide book we used when visiting.

"Shiraz is the city of poets and roses, of wine and nightingales...There are vineyards (takestan) everywhere...At one time Shiraz wine was being purchased by the English, Portuguese, the Dutch and [would you believe] the French!"

Persia's most admired grape is the Syrah, more often called Shiraz in Australia. We have a dilly for our...

Wine of the Day

It happens only a few times each year. When the voting is over, we uncover the bottles and the Best of Tasting turns out to be one of the least expensive. In this case, 19 out of the 23 competitors were more expensive than the winner, which was...

Shiraz by Carramar Estate, S.E. Australia
Importer—W.J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., 110 Corporate Park Drive, White Plains, N.Y., 10604. Phone (914) 251-WINE, FAX (914) 251-0283
Location—The area in south eastern Australia is called the Murrumbidgee District. It is hot and dry, but a fine irrigation system was started a century ago. Furthermore, the vintners have learned how to make good Shiraz in spite of the fierce tempertures. (Sounds like Persia's city of Shiraz, which we found hot!)
Vineyard—700 acres owned by the Casella family, who use only their own grapes.
The Nitty Gritty—8% Cabernet Sauvignon, American oak
Rating—Best Shiraz Buy so far this year...HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Good Contact for More Info—Talbert Communications, FAX (212) 627-8458,
Price—Only $9

Postscript—Temple Trivia

As you approach Majid-e-Sulaiman (mah-zyeed ee soo-lay-mahn) you see a primitive, well-preserved oil derrick. Why is it there? It marks the site of the first oil discovery in the entire Middle East (by the British in 1908). At the time it was the largest known oil field in the world.


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.



This page created November 2000