Saturday, December 8, 2007

Four Aussie Shiraz's


Tasted with the Princeton Tasters group. My nose was still somewhat stuffed, and it was hard not to be swayed by the other tasters' comments. I also lost my tasting sheet, so only the most salient features are recalled.

Across the board, the wines were sweet, ranging from slightly sweeter than Barrel Monkeys, to downright sugary. All the wines were deep opaque purple, with almost no clear meniscus at the edge. All had a clear Shiraz characteristic. The Mollydooker nose was difficult to dissect under the alcohol, but all the other's had bold aromas. The Two Hands and the Winner's Tank stood out as the most complex and interesting noses. All had very gentle tannins - Mollydooker was the most tannic. Redbank stood out as the brightest, warmest, simplest nose. Two Hands and Winner's Tank were the earthiest/non-fake noses. Two Hands was the only unclean nose, with a hint of "barnyard."

The favorites were the first two, Winner's Tank and Redbank.

Tasting Notes:

2006 "Winner's Tank Shiraz" Eskadale Vineyards (Langhorne Creek)($16)
NOSE: Complex and real, with appetizing cherries, and hints of liquorice, burnt rubber, and egg nog. Several delicious tones I could not name. PALATE: slightly sweet, more than BM. Low acidity. Attacks the palate with extracted fruit. Aromatic midpalate. Long finish that unbalances, first faintly bitter, then fading into a sour aftertaste. Weak tannins. several largish particles of black fruit residue made it clear that this wine is unfiltered! Aromatically complex, and unoffensive in its balance, if not gripping. I would like it drier, with much bigger tannins.
I understand why Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate gives this 91 points. I give it 88, mostly on its nose. I really want another crack at dissecting that nose! 91-JM, 88-RA.

2004 Redbank "The Long Paddock" Shiraz (Victoria)($9)
NOSE: Warm, round, bright red cherry pie, with a hint of sweet yogurt. PALATE: Also sweet, but balanced by slightly higher acidity than the Winner's Tank. Don't recall the finish. This was the first wine to be finished at the tasting - possibly the most drinkable of the four. The '05 vintage earned a dismal 75 from Jay Miller, but I don't find the '06 flawed in any way (except being too sweet). If you like lightly sweet shiraz, this is a good value. 84RA.

2006 Two Hands "Angels Share" Shiraz (McLaren Vale)($34)
I had highest hopes for this wine. Highly rated by Robert Parker in past vintages, a quick sniff as we were decanting revealed an earthy, delicious shiraz aroma. NOSE: Great shiraz with buttery blueberry muffins. The earthiness I smelled during decanting devolved into a faint "barnyard" smell. I use that term because "poop" is somewhat indelicate. I don't appreciate this particular scent. In this day and age, people should be able to make clean wines, especially for 34 bones! PALATE: Sugar syrup. I was so disappointed I couldn't concentrate on the rest of the palate. It may have been slightly spicy. Certainly the tannins were very slight. At least it was sugary sweet instead of glycerine fake-sweet like the Mollydooker. I don't know how Jay Miller can give this a 93. Even if it tastes delicious, the combination of the alcohol and sugar, with low acidity and tannins, makes it cloying, densely undrinkable. Seriously: 3/4 of a glass of this wine and you feel your gorge rise! 93-JM, 63-RA.

2006 Mollydooker "The Boxer" Shiraz(McLaren Vale)($34, release $20)

This wine has become so popular that its price has inflated by 70% over Sarah and Sparky's intended price. Knowing about their glycerol-boosting methods, I expected a super-rich, overly-sweet wine that bore no resemblance to Shiraz. It turns out there was more to the wine than I expected. NOSE: Lots of alcohol interference, at times appeared more muted than the other's. Noteable and pleasing Shiraz note framed by rich, real fruit. A delicious if not complex nose. PALATE: As expected, glycerol sweetness prevailed. It struck me as less sweet than the Angels Share, and its quality of sweetness was different ("bluer"?). I think I am starting to be able to differentiate glycerine sweetness from sugar sweetness. A long, extracted wine, with a spicy bite, and bigger tannins than any of the others. To my palate, significantly better than the '06 Maitre D'. I appreciate that Sarah and Sparky Marquis have developed a truly unique, recognizable style of wines. In a blind tasting, I might have guessed Redbank, probably would have mistaken Winner's Tank and Angels Share for eachother, but I'm sure I would have recognized the Mollydooker. Not drinkable for my palate. 94-JM, 68-RA.

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