Massena The Eleventh Hour Shiraz Barossa Valley 2004 $37.99USD
Deeply colored, almost purple, with red edge. Very portish, ripe and sweet with plum, blackberry, blueberry and smoky oak. Developing aromas of prunes and dried dates. Soft and supple entry but the wine is disjointed due to sharp biting acidity, especially on the finish. The palate lacks balance, depth and complexity. The fruit is simply overripe and the acidification overdone. 2, 2, 4.0, 8.0 = 16.0/20, 80/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted August 14, 2006.
Initially tasted Saturday August 13th at the Vintage Wines Wine Bar with similar notes. (Very porty, dried tea leaves, blackberry, blueberry, plum, and every other dark fruit you might think you can smell. [No, this has to be port.] OK, so there is acidity there, very sharp with firm tannins. Who added the acidity?). The discussion among myself and several others at that time was that the wine was indeed very portish and the acidity too aggressive. It was concluded that the only way a wine of this ripeness could be so acidic would be through addition of acid. While this is not unusual, in this case it has been overdone and has not done this wine any favors. The life span of this wine is likely to be short and it cannot be recommended.
Fetish Wines The Watcher Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 $16.99USD (Screwcap)
The second in a line of proprietary brands from Joshua Tree Imports, the first wine from Fetish was made by Rolf Binder at his Veritas Winery. Its cherry red in color with a faint orange/brown tinge to the edge. An initial suphur stink (that blows off) hides the toasted oak and cherry liqueur of a too ripe Barossan. The palate is full bodied and displays an excellent carry of flavors, impressive balance with soft and silky tannins and bright acidity, and just a kiss of sweetness. Should give 3-5 years of enjoyment for those who like this style. 1.5, 2, 3.7, 9.9 = 17.1/20, 86/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted July 26, 2006.
Marquis Philips Shiraz 9 McLaren Vale 2004 $35.99USD
The last vintage from the joint venture between Sparky Marquis and Dan Philips of The Grateful Palate. Densely colored, almost purple, with blood red edge. Rich, ripe, opulent notes of blueberry, blackberry, and plum over smoky vanilla oak, developed faint menthol and pepper notes with time. Full bodied with a supple entry and firm tannins on the finish. This is not a shy wine and neither is the alcohol. It’s a distinctive style that requires a palate able to tolerate a slight bruising by burnt, charred, and tarred characters that are not unattractive, just unrestrained. But if you like lip-tinglers, this is your wine. With the fire-sale that is taking place due to the breakup of the partners, I purchased a 6-pack at less than $20/bottle. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.8 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 16.5% alcohol. Tasted July 21, 2006.
Hewitson Ned and Henry’s Shiraz Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 $15.99USD (Screwcap)
Dense cherry red with red edge. Fruit struggles to get past a little bottle stink initially. But once it does there is plenty of rich blackberry and plum backed up by sweet toasted oak. Medium weight with sharp, biting acidity on the palate, finishing quite thin. Short on structure and balance. 2, 2, 4.0, 8.7 = 16.7/20, 83/100.
Henry’s Drive Dead Letter Office Shiraz 2004 (55% Padthway, 45% McLaren Vale) $28.99USD
Dense cherry red, almost purple, with red edge. There is nothing demure about this wine. Its very attractive, rich, perfumed and coated in cherry liqueur. Very much Henry’s Drive. The palate is full bodied, as you’d expect, well structured, with the flavors giving excellent persistence. The alcohol does poke its head up, not unexpectedly, but the wine is well balanced with soft tannins and bright acidity. At 24 hours the richness was muted by notes of pepper, plum and oak. Should drink well for the next 2-4 years and if the alcohol does not become a problem it could last double that. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.0 =18.2/20, 91/100. 16% alcohol. Tasted June 8, 2006.
Glaetzer Bishop Shiraz Barossa Valley 2004 $34.99USD
Dense cherry red, almost purple, with red edge. Fruitcake rich, roasted and toasted and Kirsch-like. No, there is nothing shy about this wine, but its all tease. On the palate its full bodied with a soft and supple entry, juicy acidity and the flavors carry well providing good length but the structure and complexity is just not there. It may come together in time, but there are better values elsewhere. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.7 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted April 30, 2006.
Olive Hill Winery Jimmy Section Shiraz McLaren Vale 2004 $34.99 (French Oak) (Screwcap)
Glass staining dense cherry red with red edge. Opulent aromas of blackberry jam, plum and vanilla with smoky nuances. Powerful stuff, with just a little mint peeking through to add to the complexity. Full bodied with juicy acidity upfront and nice firm astringency holding the lengthy finish. Developed anise and citrus notes with time. At 24 hours overripe and over-aggressive. May be a little too stewed and overripe to be the neighborhood favorite, the next 5 years will tell. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.5 = 17.7/20, 89/100. 14.8% alcohol. Tasted April 27, 2004.
Deakin Estate Shiraz (Victoria) 2004 $4.50USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Restrained plum and blackberry over vanilla and smoky oak. Medium weight with good presence of flavors on the palate. Juicy acidity and firm tannins underlie a nicely balanced wine without great complexity. Good value for those who want an inexpensive, more restrained version of Australian Shiraz. Good for 2-3 years more. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.3 = 17.1/20, 86/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted March 30, 2006.
Tuesner The Riebke Ebenezer Road, Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 $17.99USD
Deep cherry red with red edge. Sweet, ripe cherry over smoky oak and blackberry. Excellent mouthfeel with punchy acidity and firm but not overt astringency leading to a lengthy finish. Well structured with great depth and fine balance. Drinking well now and should do for the next 5-10 years. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.1 = 18.2/20, 91/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted February 10, 2006.
Strathewen Hills Patterson Lakes Shiraz Port Phillip (Vicoria) 2004 $23.99USD (Screwcap)
Cherry red with pink edge. Big attractive pepper and herbal aromas over plum, cherry and oak. Medium weight with firm tannins and bright acidity. Lacks depth and complexity across the palate. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.2 = 17.2/20, 86/100. 14.8% alcohol. Tasted February 7, 2004.
Mitolo Jester McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 $17.99USD (Screwcap)
Dark cherry red with red edge. Loads of smoky vanilla oak over blackberry that covers a little sulfur stink that came up with time. Full bodied with sweet fruit and soft tannins. A mouthful of flavor balanced by racy acidity but little complexity. At 24 hours it was full and soft with toasted and roasted flavors. 2, 2, 3.7, 9.8 = 17.5/20, 88/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted January 23, 2006.
Jip Jip Rocks Limestone Coast Shiraz 2004 $7.99USD (Screwcap)
Cherry red with red edge. Attractive sweet, ripe fruit aromas together with pepper and a little ethyl acetate (EA). Full bodied with sweet oak, fine tannins, overt, juicy acidity and a short finish. Reasonable value for the price. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.7 = 17.6/20, 88/100. 15% alcohol. Tasted November 6, 2005.
3-Rings Barossa Valley Shiraz 2004 $15.99 (Screwcap)
Intensely colored dense black cherry with cherry red edge. Flavors of blueberry, vanilla, chocolate and dusty earth jump out of the glass. Full bodied with fruity sweetness, fine soft tannins, and clean acid underlie a well balanced wine of excellent value. At 24hours abundant sweet aromas highlighted by blueberry and vanilla framed by clean acidity with a core of fine, subtle tannins. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.0 = 18.2/20, 91/100. 14.9% alcohol. Tasted August 18, 2005.
Marquis Philips Shiraz 2004 $11.99USD (Screwcap)
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very aromatic with notes of blackberry, plums, vanilla, dusty oak and a hint of menthol. Full bodied with soft and supple tannins. Well balanced with some alcohol on the abbreviated finish. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.7 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 15.5% alcohol. Tasted August 15, 2005.
Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2002 $28.99USD
Straw yellow. Toasted oak and muted tropical notes of pineapple and guava. Full bodied with excellent flavor on the palate. Impressive balance, not overly fat or buttery, with crisp acidity. 2, 2, 3.8, 10.2 = 18/20, 90/100. Tasted August 21, 2005.
American Pinot Noir
August 18 6:30PM
Seventh Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. This one written up as: We will taste wines from California and Oregon in an attempt to finally put an end to the battle as to who makes the best Pinot. Eight wines all from the best producers will be sampled.
The wines were served single blind, and as is my usual practice I did not look at the list. The wines are listed in the order they were tasted. Identities were revealed at the end of the tasting.
Willakenzie Estate Willamette Valley Terres Bases 2002 $43.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Ripe fruit with notes of banana, smoke and dusty oak. Full bodied with flavors carying well onto the palate. Well balanced with clean acidity. 2, 2, 3.0, 10.0 = 17.9/20, 89/100, 14.6% alcohol.
Byron Santa Maria Valley Nielson Vineyard 2001 $33.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Ripe fruit with caramel and toasted notes and faint barnyard. Full bodied, well balanced with soft and supple caress on the palate. A pleasant wine. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.9 = 17.7/20, 88/100. 14.4% alcohol.
Failla Sonoma Coast Hirsch Vineyard 2003 $44.99USD
Light cherry red with pink edge. Looks unfiltered. Very aromatic with notes of spices, dusty oak and celery! Developed strawberry and dried tea leaves aromas. Less than full bodied with soft tannins and prominent acidity. Excellent presence of flavors on the palate. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0 = 18.1/20, 91/100. 14.1% alcohol.
Foley Santa Rita Hills Rancho Santa Rosa 2002 $25.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Very impressive flavors of cherries, spices and strawberry. Medium weight with mouth watering acidity. Excellent structure with wonderful depth to the flavors on the palate. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4/20, 92/100. 13.9% alcohol.
Flowers Sonoma Coast Andreen-Gale Cuvee 2002 $44.99USD
Cherry red with faint orange tinge to the edge. Slightly closed, earthy, dusty, cherries. Developed spices. Medium weight with greater depth of flavor on the palate. Well balanced with excellent structure, and clean acidity to the finish. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.2 = 18.3/20, 92/100. 14.2% alcohol.
Sea Smoke Santa Rita Hills Southing 2003 $42.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Spices, cherry and strawberry together with vanilla. Medium weight, very well balanced with clean acidity and soft tannins. Wonderful depth and complexity of flavors on the palate. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.4 = 18.5/20, 93/100. 14.5% alcohol.
Archery Summit Willamette Valley Renegade Ridge Estate 2003 $47.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Blackberry, cherry and smoky oak and some alcohol heat. Medium weight but feels thin across the palate due to the pronounced astringency. Clean acidity to the finish. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.4 = 17.4/20, 87/100. 14.5% alcohol.
Argyle Willamette Valley Reserve 2003 $24.99USD (Screwcap)
Light cherry red with pink edge. Closed with hints of rose petal, cherry and dusty oak. Medium weight with mouth watering acidity and good presence of flavors on the palate. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.8 = 17.6/20, 88/100. 15.0% alcohol.
Sanford Santa Rita Hills Sanford & Benedict Vineyard 2002 $39.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Smoky oak, blackberry and faint ethyl acetate (EA). Bright acidity and mouth drying astringency. Lacks depth to the mid-palate. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.8 = 17.6/20, 88/100. 14.5% alcohol.
This was an interesting tasting. The wines from the Santa Rita hills (Sea Smoke and Foley) being very impressive. The Sea Smoke was easily the wine of the night (WOTN) while the Foley providing the best value.
The Archery Summit and the Sanford were atypical for Pinot Noir, at least the picture I have of Pinot Noir in my mind. Both wines seemed more extracted than the others, and unbalanced due to the over abundant astringency.
The Oregonian wines did not fair well in this tasting with the California wines showing more varietal character.
Eight Great Wines
July 21st 6:30PM
Sixth Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. This one written up as: This will be a tasting of eight wines all highly rated and even better they are all outstanding Wines.
The wines were served single blind, and as is my usual practice I did not look at the list. The wines are listed in the order they were tasted. Identities were revealed at the end of the tasting. The Chateauneuf du Pape had been poured 90 minutes before, all the other wines were poured two hours before with the 1989 Chateau Pichon Baron being decanted.
2002 Ramey, Hyde Chardonnay, Carneros $44.99USD
Light straw in color with aromas of creamy oak, tropical fruits, melon and citrus. Very well balanced with excellent carry of flavors onto the palate and pleasant crisp acidity to the lengthy finish. Excellent Chardonnay. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.2 = 8.5/20, 93/100.
2000 Emanuel Rouget, AC, Vosne Romanee $59.99USD
Light cherry in color with light pink edge. Appealing notes of spice, stewed quince and dusty oak. Medium weight with elegantly soft and supple entry, beautiful soft tannins and bright acidity. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.1 = 18.2/20, 91/100. 13.5% alcohol.
2002 Dommaine des La Mordoree, La Reine des Bois, Chateauneuf du Pape $84.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open and opulent with pronounced blackberry liqueur aroma. Full bodied with mouth drying astringency on entry and powdery tannins to the finish that drown the presence of other flavors on the palate. Needs time to soften. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.7 = 17.9/100, 89/100. 14.5% alcohol.
1989 Chateau Pichon Baron, Pauillac $149.99USD
Very dense cherry red with bricking to the edge. Very aromatic with notes of caramel, faint ripe banana, and dusty oak. Well balanced with fine tannins, clean acidity, and nice presence of flavors on the palate, backed up by a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.9 = 17.9/20, 89/100.
2001 Paolo Scavino, Carobric, Barolo $69.99USD
Brick red with a faint orange tinge to the edge. Very ripe and aromatic with pronounced ripe banana, nail polish remover [ethyl acetate (EA)], and ripe cherry. Palate is dominated by mouth drying tannins but they do not overpower the ripeness of the flavors, although the wine did close down later. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.0 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 14.5% alcohol.
2001 Ramirez de Ganuza, Old Vines Reserva, Rioja $57.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Wonderfully rich and complex with chocolate, cassis, dusty oak and faint kerosene! On the palate this wine is full bodied with notes of tar and ink folded into the aromas. Firm tannins back up a well structured wine. 2, 2, 4.4, 10.1 = 18.5/20, 93/100. 14% alcohol.
2001 Ristow, Napa, Valley, Quinta las Piedras Cabernet $59.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Complex, rich and ripe with cassis, pepper, and blackberry. Developed a dried tea leaves character with time. A softer, less tannic, well balanced wine with clean acidity and pleasing astringency to the finish. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.1 = 18.4/20, 92/100. 14.1% alcohol.
2002 Gibson Old Vine Collection Barossa Shiraz $119.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Beautifully rich and complex with coconut, and blackberry liqueur dominant. A slight medicinal note does not detract from the open and forward aromatics. Full bodied with excellent carry of flavors onto the palate, backed up by impressive structure. Very nice. 2, 2, 4.4, 10.4 = 18.8/20, 94/100. 15% alcohol.
Unlike the usual practice at these tastings no votes were taken for favorite wine mainly because the variety of wines makes comparison difficult, but also because there was so much discussion at individual tables.
My own impressions were fairly straight forward, and while they may be influenced by underlying biases, I think they are fair. I don’t see the value in the 1989 Chateau Pichon Baron. This wine has received big scores (95 WA, 98 WS) and while the wine tasted was still youthful that does not justify its bottle price. In contrast the 2000 Emanuel Rouget was a pleasant surprise that I feel is better than the tasting note and score given to it by Tanzer (87 ST). We are not talking great Burgundy but it showed pleasant varietal characteristics of Pinot Noir (at least how I view Pinot). The La Reine des Bois (Chateauneuf du Pape) should have been more impressive. Parker loves this big style, but at present that is all it is, BIG!
The only white wine was the Ramey and I agree completely with Tanzer’s impression of this chardonnay (95 ST, 92 WA). I’m always impressed with Ramey, they are simply delicious Chardonnays.
The Ramirez de Ganuza (94 WA) and the Ristow (91 ST) both showed well, but I was less impressed by the Scavino, Carobric (91 ST). I’ve rated other Scarvino wines more highly. The WOTN for me was the Gibson but it was not a standout win. My top 3 reds were all very close but if it came to spending money then the de Ganuza would get the nod.
[WA=Wine Advocate, WS=Wine Spectator, ST=Stephen Tanzer]
Carlisle Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2003 $29.99USD
95% Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel, Teldeschi Ranch, 3% Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah, Unti Vineyard, 1% Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah, Teldeschi Ranch, 1% Dry Creek Valley Petite Sirah, Riebli Ranch.
Cherry red with pink edge. Rich and ripe with spices and cherry notes. Mouth filling and yet soft and supple caress to the palate. Very well balanced with fine tannins and tingling acidity followed by a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.2 = 18.3/20, 91/100. 15.9% alcohol. Tasted June 29, 2005
Carlisle Sonoma County Zinfandel 2003 $23.99USD
50% Russian River Valley Zinfandel, Barbieri Ranch, 27% Russian River Valley Zinfandel, Fava Ranch, 10% Russian River Valley Alicante Bouschet, Tom Feeney Ranch, 13% Sonoma County Petite Sirah, Riebli Ranch.
Cherry red with pink edge. Layered complexity of cherry, blueberry and plum. Full bodied and well balanced with excellent display of flavors on the palate. Plenty of acidity, firm tannins and a lingering finish illustrate the quality of this wine. At 24 hours still big and powerful with vibrant acidity and excellent carry of flavors onto the palate. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4/20, 92/100. 15.8% alcohol. Tasted June 21, 2005.
De Loach Zinfandel Russian River Valley, Barbieri Ranch 1998 $17.99USD
A pronounced developed bouquet of stew quince against a background cola note, opening to fruitcake, licorice and molasses. Full bodied and very well balanced with a good core of tannins and clean acidity. The flavors carry wonderfully onto the palate for a lengthy finish. Opened on Friday night, the remaining half bottle has been sitting under vacuum until tonight (Sunday). It is still rich and layered in complexity, almost rancio in character. A delight! With cheese it seems softer and suppler than on opening but still with pleasant acidity and a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.4, 10.4 = 18.8, 94/100, 15.5% alcohol. Tasted June 10-12, 2005.
Lorca Petite Syrah 2000 $19.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Aromas of cherries, violets and plums. Medium weight with pleasant mouthfeel. Nicely balanced with firm tannins at the finish. Flavors carry well onto the palate but finish short. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.7 = 17.8/20, 89/100.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs
Tasting described as This is the season for Sauvignon Blanc and there are few places that do it better than NZ. Crisp, clean citrus with great acidity! Come taste 6 of the best. Saturday, May 28, 11-3pm.
The wines in this weekly tasting are usually all under $15pb. I tasted the wines double blind. That is I did not know what wines were in the tasting or their order. I’ve listed the wines in order they were tasted.
Lynskey’s Vineyard, Select, Marlborough 2003 $12.99USD
Very light straw, almost uncolored. Quite closed with mild notes of honey and walnuts. Good apple acidity but lacking in depth across the palate. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.3 = 16.9/20, 84/100
Lawson’s Dry Hills, Marlborough 2003 $11.99USD
Very light straw. Some herbaceousness (and a kerosene note that blew off quite quickly) with citrus notes. Medium weight with good structure and bright acidity. 2, 2, 3.7, 9.6 = 17.3/20, 86/100
Selaks, Marlborough 2003 $12.47USD
Light straw (deepest color of the group). Clear asparagus note over green apple aroma. Fuller bodied than the previous wines with good structure and nice length to the finish. Pleasantly clean green apple acidity. 2, 2, 3.5, 9.8 = 17.3/20, 86/100
Oyster Bay, Marlborough 2004 $8.99USD
Light straw in color. Very open with attractive notes of peach, pear and some asparagus. Medium weight with the flavors carrying well across the palate and finishing with crisp refreshing acidity. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.0 = 18.0/20, 90/100
Matau Valley, Marlborough 2004 $12.99USD
Very light straw. Closed with just a faint note of asparagus which carries very well onto the palate. A fuller bodied wine with a little sourness to its acidity but with good length to the finish. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.8 = 17.4/20, 87/100
Forrest Estate, Marlborough 2004 $12.99USD
Very light straw. Unusual aroma of kerosene, backed up by asparagus, green apple, and guava. Well balanced with clean and crisp acidity and the flavors carry well onto the palate. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.9 = 17.7/20, 89/100
I don’t know how many of these are screw capped, but probably quite a few. If anyone wants that information I can get it. A couple of the wines had a kerosene note that I find unusual in Sauvignon Blanc. It did not appear to be a reductive character but it did disappear quite quickly in the Lawson’s Dry Hills. The Lawson’s is a consistently good value Sauvignon Blanc, nothing startling but a very pleasant summer wine. But the value wine was the Oyster Bay. Very aromatic. The supplied tasting note did say passion fruit but I could not see that, tropical perhaps. But still excellent value for less than $10USD.
Following the acclaimed 2002 vintage the wines of 2003 have not been as well received. But there are claims that good wines can be found and so the search begins.
Shingleback McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003 $14.89USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very much generic Aussie Shiraz with sweet oak, blueberry, blackberry over smoke and vanilla. Full bodied with firm tannins, juicy acidity and tarry notes. Lacks depth or complexity. Considering the press it has received I was expecting more from this wine but the value is just not there. 2, 2, 3.8, 8.5 = 17.3/20, 86/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted January 10, 2006.
Yalumba Y Series Shiraz 2003 $8.99USD
Cherry red with a faint orange/pink tinge to the edge. Subdued notes of pepper, cloves, cherry and milk chocolate. Full bodied with firm tannins and bright acidity. A competent attempt that lacks depth on the midpalate and finishes short. 2, 2, 3.7, 8.5 = 17.2/20, 86/100. 13.5% alcohol. Tasted January 2, 2006.
Forefathers McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003 (American and French Oak) $21.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Restrained aromas of chocolate, dusty oak, and faint vanilla. Enhanced flavors on the palate of ripe cherry, blackberry, and oak. Full bodied with very soft tannins and juicy acidity. A well structured, classy Shiraz. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.1 = 18.0/20, 90/100. Tasted November 13, 2005. 14.4% alcohol.
O’Leary Walker Clare Valley/McLaren vale Shiraz 2003 $22.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Restrained notes of rich, ripe fruit, blackberry, pepper and fruitcake. Developed savoury note of Bonox. Medium to full bodied with bright acidity, a layer of fine tannins. Lacks depth and the finish is quite short. At 24 hours the acidity was sharper with toasted/roasted flavors of blackberry, oak and vanilla. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.7 = 17.9/20, 89/100. Tasted November, 10, 2005. 14.5% alcohol.
Sanguine Estate Heathcote Shiraz 2003 $39.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Opulent notes of ripe blackberry/cherry jam, cloves and sweet oak. A rich, full bodied wine with excellent carry of flavors onto the palate. Soft and supple with silky smooth tannins and bright, juicy acidity. Very well balanced with excellent depth of flavor intensity across the palate and a lengthy finish. Drinking well now and should do so for another decade. At 24 hours flavors of smoked oak and vanilla meld with the impressive suppleness. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.2 = 18.5/20, 92/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted November 4-5, 2005.
Nugan Estate Shiraz 2003 $8.99USD (Screwcap)
Light cherry red with a pink edge. A reductive character initially that gave way to spicy, peppery aromas more typical of Pinot Noir than Australian Shiraz. Full bodied with pleasant mouthfeel. The subtle fruit characters and very soft tannins are balanced by clean acidity. A nicely structured wine providing very impressive value. Highly recommended for every day drinking. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.9 = 17,8/20, 89/100. 13.5% alcohol. Tasted October 26, 2005.
Casella Wines yellow tail Reserve Shiraz 2003 $9.99USD (French Oak)
Dense cherry red with red edge. Big, sweet blackberry jam turning to tomato paste and then toasted oak and pepper. Flavors developed nicely over 60-90 minutes. Medium weight with soft tannins and bright acidity. Tasted at 24 and again at 48 hours the wine retained its distinctive blackberry flavor. A well balanced pleasant wine that should hold up for the next 3-5 years, and perhaps longer. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.5 = 17.3/20, 86/100. Tasted October 24-26, 2005.
Taltarni Heathcote (Victoria) Shiraz 2003 $27.99USD
Sourced from a single vineyard this Shiraz is dense cherry red with a red edge. Ripe, sweet cherry, sweet oak and faint pepper. Full bodied but plain and simple with soft tannins and juicy acidity unable to hold up the lack of depth and complexity across the palate and the short finish. Drink over the next 5years. 2, 2, 3.7, 9.5 = 17.2/20, 86/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted October 21, 2005.
RockBare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003 $12.99USD (French Oak)
Cherry red with red edge. Initially a little sulphur stink, then subdued hint of sweet toffee, oak and licorice. Quickly opened to cherries, chocolate and pepper. Full bodied with juicy acidity and impressive length to the finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.5 = 17.4/20, 87/100. 14.7% alcohol. Tasted October 17, 2005.
Turkey Flat Vineyards Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 $39.99USD (French Oak)
Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich, ripe cherry with toasted oak, pepper and blueberry. Full bodied with sound structure but the gripping tannins and hard bitter finish have yet to balance with the mouth watering acidity. No change at 24 hours. Not as impressive as the 2002. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.3 = 17.3/20, 87/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted October 11-12, 2005.
Craneford Shiraz (John Zilm) 2003 $27.99USD
Pours an intense purple into the glass. On its edge it’s a dense cherry red with a red edge. Restrained notes blueberry, chocolate, sweet oak and pepper, with a little barnyard note underneath. The initial entry onto the palate is of ink together with sharp acidity and metallic hardness. Still it is mouthfilling with a nice soft and supple feel due to the very fine tannins and bright acidity. An earthy note rounds out a lengthy finish. At 24 hours the ink note was still prominent, as was the hardness. Not of the same caliber as the 2002. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.3 = 17.2/20, 86/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted September 19-20, 2005.
Burge Family Barossa Valley Draycott 2003 $47.99USD
Already has sediment. Cherry red with a slight orange tinge to the edge. Smells very much like barnyard. Medium weight with a soft, supple entry, attractive acidity and soft tannins. Nicely balanced. Flavors in the mouth are barnyard and cherries. After about an hour of frequent swirling in a vinum shaped glass flavors of cherries, licorice and dusty oak come up, with the barnyard character fading on the nose and palate. At 24 hours there is still plenty of bright acidity and the barnyard is reduced. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.1 = 18.1/20, 90/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted September 15-16, 2005.
The barnyard character in this wine has been discussed on the Auswine forum and Ric Einstein’s TORB site. The winery has tested the wine and the barnyard character is not Brett. But it certainly does smell like Brett, and that smell is consistent with a previous tasting. But it does fade which is unusual for Brett. There was another thing about this wine that was distinctive. The cork smelt of insect repellent! That’s another first for me. Usually a cork with have little smell, especially an hour or so after it has been pulled.
Although I scored this wine quite well, I wouldn’t recommend it. There are plenty of other Shiraz wines out there that will give more immediate pleasure, and because we don’t know what will happen with the barnyard odor with time I would not be comfortable putting it in the cellar.
Two Way Range Barossa Valley Shraz 2003 $49.99USD
A vibrant purple from the bottle. In the glass a dense cherry red with pink edge. Opulent with aromas of chocolate, blueberry, and dusty oak. Developed pepper and background notes of tar and toasted oak. Mouthfilling with drying tannins and sweetness of ripe fruit. Well structured with a lengthy finish. At 24 hours the aromas are a little subdued but there is still a mouthful of pleasure. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.1 = 18.2/20, 91/100. 15.5% alcohol. Tasted September 8-9, 2005.
Torbreck The Struie Barossa Valley 2003 $39.99USD (French (80 percent) and new French (20 percent) oak barriques)
Pours purple from the bottle. In the glass it is a dense cherry red with a red edge. Rich and ripe aromas of blueberry, vanilla and dusty oak followed by notes of toasted oak and licorice. Mouthfilling with chewy tannins and excellent depth and concentration of flavors across the palate. Excellent balance and structure complemented by a impressive length to the finish. A bold expression of Shiraz. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.4 = 18.7/20, 94/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted September 3, 2005.
I tasted this wine at the Torbreck Winery in December 2004 and rated it highly then (18.9/20). While the aromas are changing the quality of this wine has held true. Add this to your cellar and leave it for 5-10 years and you will be well rewarded.
The Colonial Estate l’explorateur 2003 $23.99USD (French and American Oak)
Hazy dense cherry red with red edge. Rich Blueberry/Blackberry jam and violets over sweet vanilla oak. Full bodied, well structured. Grainy tannins but not overly astringent. Bright acidity and nice length to the finish. At 24 hours still excellent depth and complexity of flavors of blackberry, chocolate, coffee and vanilla. The palate has some sour acidity but still soft and supple. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.1 = 18.3/20, 92/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted August 29-30, 2005.
Tim Smith Wines Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 $39.99USD
A wine made with bunch fermentation, lees aging, and some barrel fermentation. Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich and ripe with notes of blackberry, vanilla and coconut (and a little ethyl acetate, EA). Full bodied with excellent depth across the palate, clean acidity and fine tannins. A toasted note tops the finish. Excellent flavor carry onto the palate with toasted coconut, blackberry and vanilla with integrated sweetness. At 24 hours the acidity a little more biting but still a very impressive wine with more flavors on the palate than nose. A glass tasted after five days was port-like with burnt, tarry almost camphor characters. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.4 = 18.5/20, 93/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted August 24-29, 2005.
Henry’s Drive Padthaway Shiraz 2003 $32.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Opulent with its rich ripe fruit, sweet vanilla oak, and chocolate notes backed up by plenty of cherry and plum flavors over faint mint. Mouthfilling with excellent depth and intensity of flavors across the palate. The alcohol is very well hidden and even the tannins lurk in the background. The lengthy finish has a slight bitterness to it. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0 = 18.1/20, 91/100. 16% alcohol. Tasted August 10, 2005.
Elderton Wines Barossa Shiraz 2003 $23.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Restrained blackberry, and cherry-liquor underlying chocolate and smoky oak. Full bodied with excellent structure. The flavors carry well across the palate and are backed by powdery tannins. The wine is upset by some hardness to the finish, and does not appreciate too much exposure to air. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.6 = 17.5/20, 87/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted July 25, 2005.
Winter Creek Barossa Valley Shiraz 2003 $27.99USD (French Oak)
Dense cherry red with red edge. A very seductive wine. Oozes blueberry and chocolate over blackberry, licorice and smoke. Full bodied with excellent structure. A veneer of tannin coats the palate without overt astringency and dovetails well with the bright acidity. Reminiscent of the 2002 Heathvale Shiraz. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.3= 18.5/20, 93/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted July 20, 2005.
Marquis Philips Shiraz 9 2003 (McLaren Vale 60%, Padthaway 40%) $35.99USD
Very dark in color, almost purple. Seductive and complex with notes of earth, chocolate, blueberry and smoke. Full bodied with soft silky tannins. Certainly big but not overly bold. A charred bitterness surrounds the palate and lingers on the finish. Developed a pepper note, and what can only be described as a pleasant aroma of soap. A wine of questionable longevity. 2, 2, 4.3, 9.4 = 17.7/20, 88/100. 16% alcohol. Tasted June 4, 2005.
Lennard’s Crossing Shiraz 2003 (Pokolbin, NSW) Cost?
Light cherry red with pink edge. Sulfur stink over dusty oak, spices and licorice. Medium weight with soft tannins, a sour acidic finish and residual sweetness of strawberries. Little to recommend it. 2, 2, 3.5, 8.7=16.2/20, 81/100. 13.5% alcohol. Tasted May 26, 2005.
Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale Shiraz 2003 $16.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Exudes blueberry and cherry flavors backed up by smoky vanilla oak. Full bodied and well structured with firm tannins and lively acidity to provide balance. Flavors carry well onto the palate. Less restrained and more impressive than the 2002. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.1=18.0/20, 90/100. 14% alcohol tasted. May 24, 2005.
Morambro Creek Padthaway Shiraz 2003 $14.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open with a seductive floral note surrounded by cherries, spices, pepper and toasted oak. Full bodied and well balanced with flavors carrying extremely well onto the palate. The soft tannins make for a drink now style that should live for at least 5 more years. Excellent value. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.1 =18.3/20, 92/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted May 19-21, 2005.
Hazyblur Baroota Shiraz South Australia 2003 $31.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Intense blueberry/blackberry, cloves and vanilla aromas. Soft and supple entry with medium to full bodied mouthfeel. Flavors carry well across the palate and are balanced by soft tannins and good acidity. The alcohol is evident although not to the extent seen in the 2002, but again it tarnishes what could be a memorable wine. This character was even more evident after 24 hours and the tannins firmer. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.8=17.8/20, 89/100. 14.5% alcohol. May 2-3, 2005.
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Clare Valley Shiraz 2003 $11.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very intense, chocolate, blueberry, sweet oak. Full bodied, well balanced with good acidity, but does not carry across the palate cleanly. Alcohol is evident. After 24 hours smooth, rich and ripe. Not a patch on the 2002. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20, 88/100. 15.5% alcohol. Tasted April 21, 2005.
May 12th 6:30 pm
Fourth Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines in San Diego.
The wines had been poured for about two hours before we got to them. Served in a single blind format. I’ve listed the wines in the order they were tasted with the identity as revealed at the end of the tasting.
2000 Chateau Brane-Cantenac, Margaux $56.99USD
Dense cherry red with faint orange tint to the edge. Initially barnyard, tar and caramel aromas followed by chocolate and vanilla. Well structured with big dollops of tannin and acid but marred on the finish by some bitterness suggestive of a little greenness. (2, 2, 3.9. 10.0 = 17.9/20, 90/100 (RP 92)
2000 Chateau Monbousquet, St Emilion ($60-100USD)
Dense cherry red with red edge. Great complexity with notes of cedar and a savory character that became almost fruitcake. Medium to full bodied, with excellent balance, firm tannins and clean acidity. Excellent length to the finish. (2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4/20, 92/100, (RP 95)
2000 Chateau Quinault, L'Enclos, St Emilion $52.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Slightly closed with hints of smoke and oak. Well balanced and full bodied with good acidity and drying tannins. (2, 2, 3.8, 10.0 = 17.8/20, 89/100 (RP92)
1995 Chateau Troplong-Mondot, St Emilion $69.99USD
Dense cherry red with a slight orange tinge to the edge. Obviously the oldest wine in the group. An unusual bouquet of tar, caramel and alcohol overlaying anise and possibly vanilla. Softer entry than the other wines but still supported by good acidity and firm tannins still holding the finish. (2, 2, 3.9, 9.9 = 17.8/20, 89/100 (RP 92)
2000 Chateau Lanessan, Haut Medoc $20.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Intriguing floral complexity with violets predominant. Full bodied, wonderful balance with bright acidity and an excellent finish. (2, 2, 4.2, 9.9 = 18.1/20, 91/100 (RP 89)
2001 Chateau Pape-Clement, Pessac-Leognan ($83-110USD)
Very dense cherry red with red edge. Very open with blackberry and toasted oak developing an attractive barnyard character. Full bodied and well balanced with flavors carrying well on retronasal. (2, 2, 4.3, 10.1 = 18.4/20, 92/100 (RP 95)
2000 Les Forts de Latour, Pauillac $79.99USD
Cherry red with a pinkish/red edge. A little closed with notes of cedar and barnyard. Flavors carry well on the palate with good acidity to the finish. (2, 2, 3.9. 9.9 = 17.8/20, 89/100 (RP 91)
2002 Chateau Pontet-Canet, Pauillac $29.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Cedar, toasted oak and New World jamminess. Well balanced with drying tannins and good acidity. (2, 2, 4.0, 10.1 = 18.1/20, 91/100 (WS92)
The first point of interest about this tasting was that it was sold out and people had to be turned away. There were about 30 seats filled, usually its down to about 12-15 at these monthly tastings. Second is that this is sort of my annual venture into Bordeaux. Its not that I don’t like the wines its just that the good stuff is so bloody expensive. Also, and this applies more to white than red, I find that I usually rate New World ahead of most things French particularly when the wines are young. So call me biased! But this tasting did have Brane-Cantenac in it and I wanted to see how this 2nd Growth was doing. Brane-Cantenac is the first Bordeaux wine that I tasted that had some age on it way back in the distant past and it had made a favorable impression; and that was when Brane-Cantenac was making so-so wines. I wasn’t overly impressed this time.
The little Lanessan was impressive especially for the price. Others must have thought so as well because by the time I got out into the wine shop all the bottles had been bought; I have to learn not to sit next to people who have the same occupation as me and who are headed off to Bordeaux.
My top wines were the Monbousquet and the Pape-Clement and I vacillated over which to put as my WOTN up until it was decision time. In the end I opted for the Pape-Clement with the Lanessan in third. The group also went for the Pape-Clement as the top wine with the Quinault in second (my 6th) and the Les Forts de Latour in third (my 7th). Which is interesting only because I thought both the Quinault and the Les Forts de Latour the most closed wines of the group. Does that mean that my suspicion that Francophiles prefer wines that lack flavorful aromas is correct? Hmmm, I wonder!!!
Tasting described as The Australian Shiraz is one of the hottest selling wines in the market today. We will try six of them all under 15 bucks that will knock your socks off. Saturday, April 23rd, 11-3PM.
I was the first to arrive for this tasting and none of the wines had been opened. So these are notes from freshly opened bottles. Just the way I like it. First pass through the wines showed that wine No. 3 was corked and a fresh bottle was opened. My notes are for that bottle. The wines were tasted essentially double-bind, but I must admit that I have tasted several wines in the sub-$15 range from Vintage Wines in the last few weeks and so I was expecting those wines to be in the tasting. I’ve listed the wines in the order they were tasted.
Elderton Tantalus (70/30 Shiraz/Cabernet) 2003 $9.99USD (Screwcap)
Cherry red with a faint orange tint. Very spicy with notes of orange zest, quince and caramel. Medium weight, well balanced with clean acidity and soft tannins. Excellent retronasal. Attractive drinking style. Almost Zinfandel-like. (2, 2, 3.6, 10.1 = 17.7/20, 88, 14% alcohol)
Rosemount Estate Shiraz 2002 $6.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Closed with hits of bacon and tomato. Medium weight with good acidity and soft tannins but falling off on the finish. (2, 2, 3.4, 9.5 = 16.9/20, 84, 14% alcohol).
Hill of Content Shiraz 2003 $10.99USD
Dense cherry red. Distinct shiraz flavors of blackberry and pepper. Medium weight and well balanced with bright acidity. (2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20, 88, 13.5% alcohol).
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2003 $11.99USD
Dense cherry red. Very ripe, rich flavors of blueberry and blackberry. Full bodied and well balanced with flavors carrying well on retronasal. Has to be the Jim Barry. (2, 2, 4.0, 10.0 = 18.0/20, 90, 15.5% alcohol).
Greg Norman Shiraz 2002 $10.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Unpleasant sulfur note that developed an underlying diesel character; carried through on retronasal. Well balanced across the early and mid-palate but with bitterness to the finish. Screwcap or faulty or both? (2, 2, 3.0, 8.5 = 15.5/20, 77, 14% alcohol).
Alliance Shiraz 2001 $10.99USD
Cherry red with a faint orange tinge. Burnt note of caramel with a faint aroma of petrol. Light to medium weight with the flavors carrying well on retronasal. Pronounced acidity that carries across the palate. (2, 2, 3.8, 9.0 = 16.8/20, 84, 13.5%5 alcohol).
I’d tasted the Jim Barry just a few days before and noted that there was “chocolate, blueberry, sweet oak. Full bodied, well balanced with good retro, good acidity, but does not carry across the palate cleanly. Alcohol is evident. Not a patch on the ’02.” 2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20, 88. It was a very easy wine to pick and stood out as the biggest Shiraz of the group.
The Rosemount I’d tasted about a week earlier. “Blueberry, sweet oak, vanilla. Full bodied, well balanced, soft tannins, clean but pronounced acidity. Well made but not distinctive, although still good value.” 2, 2, 3.8, 9.5 = 17.3/20, 87. Did not pick it in the tasting line-up.
The only other wine I’d tasted was the Elderton Tantalus. I’d had this in December ’04 at their tasting room in Nuriootpa. My brief notes say“light cherry red, bright fruit, anise, medium weight, soft tannins, good retro of anise and plum.” 2, 2, 3.7, 9.7 = 17.4/20, 87. I would never have picked it in the tasting line-up. Can’t even say I’d identify it as a blend, although it was more Zin-like than Shiraz compared to the other wines.
The only problem wine was the Greg Norman. Its not a screwcap and so until I get to taste it again I’m putting it down as a faulty bottle.
What were the values? Well the Jim Barry stood out although if you have any of the 2002 put aside you might as well drink that until the ’04 comes out. The Hill of Content is also a reasonable value, and even though it didn’t show as well as I expected the Rosemount is still good value at $7USD.
Paul Hobbs Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2003 $32.99USD
A slightly murky cherry red with a red edge; yes its unfiltered. A quick swirl reveals ripe fruit and wonderful spicy aromas that reminded me of ripe quince. In the mouth its medium bodied, very soft and supple with great balance. Others might say “velvety palate feel” but I’ve never tasted velvet. What is velvet is what the wine does in your mouth. If described in detail, it would probably be obscene in several countries. Those spicy, quince-like aromas expand and explode in wave after wave of intensity as you breathe out through your nose; its called retronasal breathing and this wine will give you the real deal! Bloody fantastic.
I bought a bottle for Miranda and me to drink at our leisure over the rest of the weekend. Opened on Saturday night, it was still going strong when I reluctantly finished the last few drops on Sunday night. An excellent Pinot Noir, and the best I can remember having. (2, 2, 4.2, 10.5 = 18.7, (93), 14.6% alcohol. Tasted April 23-24, 2005.)
The Wines of Espana
April 21st 6:30pm
Third Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. This one written up as: One of the hottest wine regions right now not only for great values, but also for some outstanding and highly rated wines. Come try 8 from the 2001 and 2002 Vintages.
The wines were served single blind, and as is my usual practice I did not look at the list. The wines are listed in the order they were tasted. Identities were revealed at the end of the tasting.
Capcanes Cabrida Monstant 2001 $49.99USD
Cherry red with a slight brown tint. Somewhat closed with a note of barnyard. Developed a resinous character underlying aromas of spices and cola. Medium weight with good acidity and a pronounced core of astringency. Flavors carry well onto the palate. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.0 = 17.9/20, 90/100 (RP93) 14.5% alcohol.
Guzman Aldazabal Exaltacion Rioja 2001 ~$90USD
95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano (Aged in new French and Russian oak)
Dense cherry red. Very open with rich chocolate and dark fruits. Medium weight with pronounced acidity and drying tannins on the finish. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.5 = 17.7/20, 88/100 (RP93) 14.25% alcohol
Artadi Pagos Viejos Rioja 2001 $99.99USD
Dense cherry red with distinct barnyard aroma and some pepper. Medium weight with sharp acidity and considerable astringency dominating the palate. Flavors carry well. 2, 2, 3.7, 9.4 = 17.1/20, 86/100 (RP97) 13.5% alcohol
Astrales Ribera del Duero 2001 $41.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Initially very closed with just a hint of dusty oak. Opened to smoky oak and layered richness, and an unusual note of walnuts. A wine with a considerable depth to its structure. Full bodied and well balanced with a solid core of tannins and clean acidity. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.3 = 18.4/20, 92/100 (RP93) 14.0% alcohol
JC Conde NEO Ribera del Duero 2001 $49.99USD
Cherry red with a slight orange tint. The farmyard of the night. Also a note of ink. Medium weight with firm tannins and good acidity. Flavors carry well across the palate for a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.8 = 17.6/20, 88/100 (RP95) 13.5% alcohol
Cesca Vincent Abat Domenech Priorat 2000 $49.99USD
50% Grenche 50% Cabernet Sauvignon
Cherry red with a slight orange tint. Rich, ripe and sweet with notes of quince and blueberries. Developed aroma of tea leaves. Light to medium bodied with some sweetness to the palate that is supported by firm tannins. Flavors carry extremely well, providing a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.8 = 18.0/20, 90/100 (RP 93) 14.5% alcohol
Clos Mogador Priorat 2002 $69.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Christmas cake spices, mint and sweet oak. Medium bodied with a solid core of astringency. Flavors carry extremely well onto the palate which finishes with sharp but not unpleasant acidity. A powerful wine that shows all of its attributes including its alcohol. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.0 = 18.3/20, 91/100 14.5% alcohol
Numanthia Toro 2002 $44.99USD
Dense cherry red. Smoky oak with vanilla and chocolate. Medium weight with flavors carrying well onto a palate that lacks a little depth at its middle. Another wine with pronounced acidity and tannin and evident alcohol. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.8 = 17.9, 89/100 14.5% alcohol
This is my first experience of Spanish wines, certainly of this quality. Its fair to say that there is nothing shy about any of this line-up. They are clearly New World in style. The unmistakable pronounced acidity and mouth drying tannins reminds me of Super Italians. But these are very young wines and most need a decade or more to settle.
The Bee's Knees in Aussie's
March 17th 6:30 pm
Second Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines. This one written up as: We will taste some hot new wines from Down under all of which will blow you down! This will just be a few cobbers sittin around getting blotto!
The wines were served single blind, and as is my usual practice I did not look at the list, although I’d seen the proposed listing on the web site. The wines are listed in the order they were tasted. Identities were revealed at the end of the tasting.
Clarendon Hills Brookman Vineyard Syrah 2001 $59.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Aromas of barnyard and oak overlay a slightly burnt character and pleasant, ripe fruit. Medium weight with good acidity, the flavors carrying well on retronasal. (2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20 (89), 94 WA).
AusVetia, Coonawarra 2000 (11% cabernet Sauvignon). $54.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Very open with aromas of blackberry and pepper; developed a dry tea leaf character with time. Medium weight with excellent mouthfeel and better balance than the first wine. (2, 2, 4.1, 10.1 = 18.2/20 (91), 14% alcohol)
Torbreck Descendent, Barossa 2003 Approx. $100USD
Almost purple with deep red edge. A big, extracted aroma of tar and blackberry. Is this a Port tasting? Full bodied, finishing with very firm tannins and a lot of alcohol. (2, 2, 4.0, 9.8 = 17.8/20 (89).
Henry’s Drive, Barossa 2003 Approx. $30USD
Purple with deep red edge. Very perfumed with a slight hint of ethyl acetate (VA?) and toasted oak. Almost sweet on the palate, but well balanced, and pleasant to drink. (2, 2, 3.7, 10.1 = 17.8/20 (89)
Burge Family Draycott, Barossa 2003 $47.99USD
Cherry red with a faint orange/brown tinge to the edge; lightest colored wine of the flight. Pronounced barnyard aroma with caramel and ink notes. Medium weight, well balanced with good acidity and flavors that carry well on retronasal. (1, 2, 3.6, 9.9 = 17.5/20 (87) 14.5% alcohol).
Two Hands Bella’s Garden, Barossa 2003 Approx. $50USD
Cherry red with faint orange tinge to the edge. Unusually flavored with aromas of raisins and caramel. Developed an attractive savory note with time. Thin and acidic on the palate. (2, 2, 3.7, 9.3 = 17.0/20 (85) 94WS, 15% alcohol)
Marquis Philips Integrity, McLaren Vale 2003 $109.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open and richly flavored with floral and pepper notes. Full bodied, well balanced with fine tannins at the finish. Flavors carry well on retronasal. (2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4/20 (92) 94 WA)
Passing Clouds The Killa Kowalski Vineyard, Bendigo 2003 $44.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich and open with blackberry, vanilla, white pepper and mint. Soft entry, a backbone of firm tannins and covers the palate with richness until it finishes with one big alcohol hit! (2, 2, 4.2, 9.8 = 18.0/20 (90) 92-95+ WA, 17% alcohol)
The original listing for the tasting was 2003 Two Hands, Bella's Garden Shiraz, 2003 Torbreck The Struie, 1999 AusVetia, 2003 Henry's Drive Shiraz, 2001 Clarendon Hills Brookman Syrah, 2003 Burge Family Draycot Shiraz, 2002 Deisen Shiraz and 2002 Connor Park The Honor. I’d only tasted two of the wines on this original list, 2003 The Struie and the 1999 AusVetia. Of the wines actually served I’d only tasted two, the 2003 Descendent and the 2000 AusVetia. I’d rated both of the Torbreck wines very highly previously (under non-blinded conditions at the vineyard) and I’d rated the 2000 AusVetia highly in another single blind tasting about a year ago. However in this tasting both the Descendent and the 2000 AusVetia showed no evidence of their distinguishing characteristics, Viognier and Cabernet respectively. I guess I can be happy that I still rated the AusVetia highly, but the Descendent was a completely different wine to that tasted a few months previously. One thing that was a problem with several of the wines, including the Descendent, was the evident alcohol, and it is possible that some of the wines may have shown better if they had been served a few degrees cooler. But this tasting did reinforce a couple of lessons. First, if you are going to taste single blind then at least make sure you know what wines are in the tasting. And second, the same wine tasted under different conditions does not have to taste the same.
Tasting described as The noble grape of the America's Zinfandel has always been a wine lovers favorite. Blueberry, cassis and just a hint of spice think grilled beef or even chocolate! Saturday, Feb. 19th 11-3pm.
I tasted the wines double blind. That is I did not know what wines where in the tasting or their order. However it is usual for such tastings to have the heavier, higher alcohol wines later in the flight. I’ve listed the wines in order they were tasted.
Seghesio, Sonoma 2003 $13.49USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Very open with sweet vanilla oak and a cola-like aroma that turned to a ethyl acetate (VA?) note with time. Medium bodied with aromas clearly evident on retronasal and firm tannins holding the finish. But not a particularly well structured wine. 2, 2, 3.7, 9.5 = 17.2/20,
Tobin James, Reserve Paso Robles 2002 $17.99 USD
Cherry red with pink edge. A more typical zinfandel with a lychee character that I associate with this variety. Over time developed a quince-like aroma. Flavors carried through on retronasal. A well balanced wine with a hint of alcohol on the finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.0 = 17.9/20,
J. Runquist, Amador County 2002 $16.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich aromas of cedar, smoky tobacco, and caramel. Medium weight and well structured with good acidity to the mid-palate and firm tannins on the finish. The aromas carry through on retronasal. Another wine that finishes with the suggestion of high alcohol. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4/20,
Rosenblum, Rockpile Dry Creek 2002 $18.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very jammy with rich oak and ethyl acetate (VA?). The aromas closed down over time. Soft entry, sweet and rich on the palate with firm tannins on the finish. But unbalanced and marred by high alcohol on the finish – a real lip-burner. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.2 = 17.2/20, 15.6% alcohol.
Peter Franus, Napa Valley 2002 $19.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Easily the best drinking wine with nice quince on the nose and soft entry to the palate. Medium weight, well balanced with good acidity and soft tannins and flavors carrying through on retronasal. I don’t believe the wine will live for any great length of time, but it does drink well now. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20,
Ravenswood, Teldeschi Dry Creek 2002 $22.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Initially all I got from this wine was a suggestion of alcohol and then when I came back to it it was very closed and tight. All I could smell was the equivalent of water in a glass. How do you score that? In the mouth it was medium weight and structurally sound with very firm tannins closing out the finish. But there was very little on retronasal; the heat from my mouth was not opening the wine up any more except for a little suggestion of oak. A very difficult wine to score. To be fair to the other wines I have to score it but the wine itself does warrant retasting at a later time. 2, 2, 2.0, 9.5 = 15.5/20,
After seeing the identities of the wines I was quite surprised, especially by the Ravenswood. I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted a Ravenswood that lacked aroma! The Runquist is clearly very good value. Not a typical Zin, but a wine that will reward a few more years in bottle. The biggest concern was the level of alcohol in some of these wines. The Rosenblum was the worst example. Too big in too many ways and that is when the balancing act can come crashing down.