Tasting Notes contains just that notes on wines I have tasted!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

2002 Australian Shiraz

Seeing as the 2002 vintage is reportedly a classic, I'll be tasting as many as I get my hands on. All tasting notes for the 2002's will be added to this post as the wines are tasted.

Fox Creek McLaren Vale Short Row Shiraz 2002 $19.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Opens with attractive aromas of blackberry, vanilla, nutmeg and chocolate. Full bodied with drying, gritty tannins and juicy acidity. Flavors fade on the end of the palate revealing bitterness on the finish. At 24 hours lacking in flavor except for toasted/burnt oak. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.3 = 17.3/20, 86/100. 15% alcohol. Tasted November 2-3, 2005.

Kay Brothers Amery Vineyard McLaren Vale Hillside Shiraz 2002 (Screwcap) $28.99USD
Cherry red with a faint tinge of orange on the edge. Overly rich and ripe with blackberry, chocolate, vanilla, and ethyl acetete (EA). Medium to full bodied with pleasant mouthfeel but sharp acidity. The fine tannins produce no astringency but hold up a lengthy finish. At 24 hours the wine had aromas of dusty, burnt oak and licorice and the palate retained sharp, juicy acidity. A wine that needs several years to integrate. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.0 = 18/3/20, 91/100, 15% alcohol. Tasted October 31-November 1, 2005.

Wild Duck Creek Estate (Heathcote) Springflat Shiraz 2002 $39.99USD
A wine that actually does need to be decanted as it was bottled unfiltered and is throwing a sediment. Dense cherry red with blood red edge. Pronounced jammy aromas of cherry and blackberry over smoke. Full bodied with excellent mouthfeel that is soft and silky but with notable depth across the palate. Very soft tannins and bright acidity. Impressive length to the finish. Drinking well now but should live for up to 10 years. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.3 = 18.6/20, 93/100. 15.5% alcohol. Tasted October 23, 2005.

Connor Park (Bendigo) Shiraz 2002 (Basket Press) $16.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Initially suphur over subdued cherry, blackberry, faint pepper and dusty oak. Full bodied with fine tannins and very juicy acidity. Finishes nicely. A competent, pleasant Shiraz without any real distinction. Drink over the next 2-5 years. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.6 = 17.2/20, 86/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted October 13, 2005.

Larrikin Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $16.99USD
(Bottled by Mount Langi Ghiran, Victoria)
Cherry red with pink edge. Ripe cherry, sweet vanilla oak and licorice. Full bodied with lavish notes of cherry and blackberry on the palate. Well balanced with soft tannins, juicy acidity and a lengthy finish. Although lacking complexity on the midpalate and tending towards simplicity this is still a good example of Barossa Shiraz. The acidity was vanquished by a spicy beef stew. At 24 hours notes of rich chocolate and blackberry but with a hard finish. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.5 = 17.5/20, 88/100. 14.55 alcohol. Tasted September 26-27, 2005.

Penfold’s Magill Estate Shiraz 2002 $39.99USD
Throwing a fine sediment. Dense cherry red with bricking on the edge. Complex aromatics that include prominent toasted coconut and blueberry followed by cherries and pepper with an underlay of dark caramel and earth. Full bodied with a soft and supple entry. Great structure with excellent depth and complexity across the palate. Super soft tannins backed up by juicy acidity and a persistent finish. At 24 hours the wine was unchanged. This is a truly excellent Shiraz that needs at least a decade or more to reach its potential, but it is wonderful drinking right now. 2, 2, 4.4, 10.4 = 18.8/20, 94/100. 14.45 alcohol. Tasted September 21-22, 2005.

Deisen Barossa Shiraz 2002 $39.99USD (French and American Oak)
A wine made with no fining or filtering.
Very dense cherry, almost purple, with red edge. Layered complexity of blueberry/blackberry and liqueur cherry over chocolate. Full bodied and initially disjointed with mouth coating tannins and sharp acidity. With time became soft and supple with racy acidity carrying the flavors across the palate for a lengthy finish. Needs several years to settle. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.0 = 18.2/20, 91/100. 15% alcohol. Tasted September 17, 2005.

Connor Park The Honor Shiraz (Bendigo) 2002 (French Oak) $34.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Sweet, over-ripe fruit aromas, pepper and anise and pronounced nail polish remover (ethyl acetate, EA). Full bodied with soft and supple entry, soft elegant tannins, and prominent EA and cherries on the palate. Some hardness to the end palate but nice length to the finish. Hides its alcohol very well, but is too rich to drink in any quantity. At 24 hours rich, ripe and very aromatic with EA and toasted oak. Holding up amazingly well. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.5 = 17.1/20, 85/100. 17% alcohol. Tasted September 12-14, 2005.

Rosemount Estate Shiraz 2002 (Diamond label) $6.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Notes of blueberry, sweet vanilla oak and nail polish (EA). Full bodied with soft tannins and pronounced acidity. Well made, and while not distinctive still excellent value. 2, 2, 3.7, 9.5 = 17.2/20, 86/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted May 19, 2005.

Penfold’s Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2002 $10.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Sweet oak, plum and pepper notes. Full bodied but quite non-descript across the palate. A wine of little complexity or depth. Flavors do not carry well onto the palate and the finish is very short. At 24 hours there was little change. 2, 2, 3.5, 9.0 = 16.5/20, 82/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted May 14-15, 2005.

Kirralaa Bushvine Shiraz 2002 $10.99USD
Pronounced KEERA-lah which is Australian aboriginal for star. This wine is a joint effort between Robert Oatley, founder of Rosemount Estate and Robert Mondavi, founder of Robert Mondavi .
Dense cherry red with red edge. Sweet, ripe fruit, vanilla oak, cherries and pepper. Almost overly aromatic. Medium to full bodied with good retention of flavors onto the palate but very disjointed with sharp acidity and an abbreviated finish. Developed a toasted note with time. At 24 hours there was more presence of flavors on the palate but the oak is too pronounced. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.0 = 16.6/20, 83/100. 14.5% alcohol. May 10-11, 2005.

Henry’s Drive Padthaway Shiraz 2002 $31.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Smoky, resinous with sweet vanilla oak. Full bodied and very well balanced . Hides its alcohol very well. At 24 hours slight blackberry aroma underlying ripe, sweet fruit, port-like, with a burnt (almost tarry) character to the finish. 2, 2, 3.8, 10.0=17.8/20, 89/100. 16% alcohol. Tasted May 7-8, 2005.

Schild Estate Wines Barossa Shiraz 2002 $18.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Initially dusty oak, plumb and sulfur stink that blew off to reveal sweet, smoky oak and blackberry. Full bodied and well balanced with clean acidity and firm tannins but little length to the finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.5=17.4/20, 87/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted April 25, 2005.

Paringa Individual Vineyard Shiraz 2002 $7.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Blackberry and vanilla oak. Ripeness without excitement. Full bodied, pleasantly soft tannins and good acidity. Fades on the midpalate to an unpleasant bitterness. 2, 2, 3.6, 8.5 = 16.4/20, 82/100. 14% alcohol. Tasted March 29, 2005.

Craneford Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $29.99USD
I first tasted this wine on January 29 from the Wine Bar at Vintage Wines in San Diego. At that time I wrote:
Dense cherry red with red edge. Initially a fried tomato–like character opening to blackberry jam. Full bodied with sweet oak but a slight bitterness to the palate. Compared to the California Syrah I was tasting at the same time it was a better wine and I scored it higher, but I wanted to taste this wine again because the bitterness worried me. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.1 = 18.2/20.

Wine from a fresh bottle was a dense cherry red with a red edge. Very open and complex with blackberry, plum, and fried tomato aromas opening to chocolate and pepper. Full bodied and well balanced with soft tannins on a persistent finish. Flavors carry well on retronasal. At 24 hours there was blackberry jam, pepper and toasted oak, soft tannins and refreshing acidity. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4/20, 14% alcohol. Tasted February 22-23, 2005.

The most interesting thing about the Craneford was that I was drinking it while I was working on the computer for several hours and I would taste it every 15-20 minutes and it would continually be giving prominence to its different aromas, chocolate would predominate and then fruit notes, and so on. Its a very attractive wine.

Killibinbin Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2002 $31.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Complex aromas of chocolate, fried tomato, coffee, oak and blackberry. Soft entry but full bodied and with mouthwatering acidity on the finish. Filled out over time with tannins becoming sweeter and more forward on the palate. Excellent retronasal. At 24 hours the entry was soft and supple and the wine flowed seamlessly across the palate with loads of chocolate and jammy blackberry, ending with sweet, firm tannins. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.2 = 18.3/20, 14.5% alcohol. Tasted February 21-22, 2005.

Goundrey Offspring Shiraz 2002 (West Australia) $10.97USD (Screw cap)
Cherry red with pink edge. Slight sulfur stink. Initially closed. Opened quite slowly with aroma of bacon fat and dusty oak, then plum and barnyard. Soft and supple entry, well balanced with fine tannins. The flavors carry well on retronasal. At 24 hours there was more plum and earth notes and the wine was holding together well with a touch of acidity on the finish. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.8 = 17.6/20, 13.5% alcohol. Tasted February 20-22, 2005.

d’Arenberg McLaren Vale The Footbolt Shiraz 2002 $13.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Ripe, rich cherries, sweet vanilla oak, and pepper aromas. Full bodied with toasted/smoky oak on retronasal. Unpleasant elevated acidity on the palate puts the wine out of balance. An abbreviated clip to the tannic finish. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.6 = 17.7/20, 14.5% alcohol. Tasted February 16, 2005.

St Hallett Faith Barossa Shiraz 2002 $18.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. Very open with blueberry and vanilla notes overlaying and attractive smokiness. A full bodied wine with excellent structure and pronounced flavor profile on retronasal. Firm tannins hold the lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.2 = 18.4, 14% alcohol. Tasted February 8, 2005.

Kurtz Family Vineyards Boundary Row Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $24.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Initial flavors were of plums and blueberries with a toasted sweet oak flavor developing with time. Medium to full bodied and well balanced with soft tannin and a clean acid finish. At 24 hours notes of pepper and oak were most evident and the alcohol and acidity were showing through. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.0 = 18.0, 14% alcohol. Tasted February 1-2, 2005.

Jeanneret Clare Valley Shiraz 2002 $17.99USD
Deep cherry red with red edge. Very open and attractive with plums, pepper and dusty oak aromas. On the palate, a full bodied wine with rich, ripe almost sweet fruit and soft tannins. The finish is marred by a surprising bitterness. At 24 hours the wine had developed a faint mint character and a sweet vanilla oak flavor. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.7 = 17.9/20, 14.5% alcohol. Tasted January 26-27, 2005.

Wynn's Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2002 $11.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Quite open with raspberry, vanilla, dusty oak and chocolate. Medium weight, very fine tannins. Well balanced but lacking depth especially across the midpalate and with some sour acidity to the finish. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.0 = 17.0. 13.5% alcohol. Tasted November 23, 2004.

Twelve Staves McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 $29.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Initially quite closed. Inky, caromel, earthy notes opening to stewed blackberries. Full bodied, very chewy with persistent tannins. Well balanced with an extra long finish. 2, 2, 3.6, 10.2 = 17.8. 15% alcohol. Tasted November 10, 2004.

Turkey Flat Barossa Shiraz 2002 $34.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open and seductive with blackberry, vanilla and bubblegum. On the palate a little less than medium weight with acidity and astringent tannins not yet fully integrated. Needs time. Excellent retronasal and a lengthy finish. Wine tasted after five days was remarkably sound and smelled intensely of blackberries. Wonderful! 2, 2, 4.6, 10.0 = 18.6. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted November 16, 2004.

For various reasons the unfinished bottle was left in the fridge. I dragged it out when the in-laws came over on the weekend and checked it out before serving it to the mother-in-law! The smell was amazing! The most concentrated aroma I've ever had from a glass of wine, and it hadn't even warmed up! It did fade fairly quickly but I just walked around with the glass plastered to my face; the in-laws already think I'm crazy anyway.

See below for tasting notes on the wine in 375 ml bottle.

Green Point Shiraz, Victoria 2002 $16.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Very open with a distinctive floral note overlaying raspberries and other red fruits. Medium weight with very soft tannins. Soft and supple in the mouth . This is a very well balanced wine with lively acidity and a long finish. At 24 hours the acidity became a little sharp. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.8 = 17.9. 14% alcohol. Tasted November 2-3, 2004.

Journeys End The Beginning Shiraz, McLaren Vale - Fleurieu 2002 $17.99USD
Dense cherry red with pink edge. Subdued with dusty oak and vanilla opening to plums on retronasal. A full bodied, well structured wine that smothers the palate with soft tannins followed by a clean acid finish. At 24 hours the wine had opened considerably displaying attractive notes of chocolate and vanilla. This wine proved a bit of a tease because it seemed to want to offer more but never got up the courage to do it. 2, 2, 3.8, 10.1 = 17.9. 15% alcohol. Tasted October 20-21, 2004.

Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 $15.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Quite closed with just hints of pepper and blackberry. Mouth filling and well structured. This is a wine that finesses the palate with more elegance than most of the ’02 shiraz I’ve tasted so far. Well balanced with crisp acidity marrying very fine tannins that provide some astringency to the finish. The lack of fruit aromas means that the retronasal is dominated by sweet oak. The alcohol becomes evident as the wine warms. 2, 2, 3.5, 9.8 = 17.3. 14% alcohol. Tasted October 18-19, 2004.

Tait Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 (Basket Pressed) $29.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Chocolate and spice notes opening to blackberry and vanilla. Medium weight with vibrant acidity that is well balanced by firm tannins as the wine washes across the palate. Flavors carry through on a lengthy finish. At 24 hours the wine had developed some licorice and still exhibited well balanced firm tannins and crisp acidity. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.0 = 18.0. 15.5% alcohol. Tasted October 15-16, 2004.

Clarendon Hills Syrah Moritz Vineyard 2002 $51.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Initial flavor is one of tomato sauce, almost Del Monte Ketchup, but not quite as richly flavored. This character is very similar to that previously described in the 2002 Clarendon Hills Syrah from the Liandra Vineyard. It progress to a Brett-like character, although in the Moritz it is more easily removed by vigorous swirling of the wine. In the mouth the wine has a supple entry and good structure with fine tannins and mouth watering acidity cleaning the palate at the finish. Over time a slight sweetness developed on entry and the midpalate became a little herbaceous. At 24 hours the Brett was reduced and the wine showed greater complexity with hints of licorice, vanilla, and dark fruits. However the finish was somewhat hard and bitter. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.3 = 17.1. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted October 11-12, 2004.

Clarendon Hills Syrah Liandra Vineyard 2002 $51.99USD
Cherry red with pink edge. Pepper and an aroma of cold fried tomatoes that turned to distinct Brett as the wine warmed. Soft and supple entry. Medium weight with lively acid across the palate. Fine tannins holding the finish. Aftertaste slightly sour and metallic (Oh, Brett what have you done!). At 24 hours the Brett was reduced revealing some blackberry and dusty oak. On the palate the wine was quite acetic and unpleasant. Brett does more harm than good. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.0 = 16.6. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted September 28-29, 2004.

Two Way Range Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $49.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Pronounced blackberry, plumb and pepper. Full bodied, very well structured with a solid backbone of firm tannins and an elegant acid finish. Flavors carry though on retronasal for a lengthy finish. A food wine that was marred by the development of a slightly unpleasant herbaceousness. Considering the level of alcohol this wine holds itself together well. At 24 hours it showed a toasted flavor and some vanilla and was softer on the palate with that lively acid still evident on the finish. 2, 2, 4.3, 9.7 = 18.0. 15.6% alcohol. Tasted September 22-23, 2004.

Kalleske Greenock Shiraz (Basket Pressed) 2002 $54.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Jumps out of the glass with an initial aroma of intense chocolate, changing to smoked meat, vanilla and a slight mint flavor. Developed a pepper note over several hours. Full bodied with big astringent tannins and a clean acid finish – still too young. Although a little rough on the edges and somewhat closed on retronasal, it’s a well structured wine. But its not a food wine, the high alcohol content gave the wine an unpleasant hotness with the beef stroganoff we tried it with. After about 8 hours in the glass the wine was still full bodied, jammy and astringent, and now the retronasal was heavy with chocolate and dusty oak. A glass or two tried the next day gave blackberry, vanilla, mint and was still full bodied. This is a wine with a long life but, in my opinion, is really too young to be drunk now. 2, 2, 4.5, 9.6=18.1. 15.5% alcohol. Tasted September 15-16, 2004.

Retasted June 16, 2005
Deep, satured cherry red with red edge. Very open with chocolate, bluberry and rich, ripe fruit, and just a little wiff of alcohol. Full bodied with great depth across the palate, finishing with chewy tannins. Needs years more time. 2, 2, 4.4, 10.4 = 18.8/20, 94/100.

Jim Barry Lodge Hill Clare Valley Shiraz 2002 $13.99USD
What a great little wine, especially for the price! Cherry red with a pink edge. Very open with attractive berry and mixed spice notes. Slightly below medium weight. But nice soft tannins make for a very supple wine that finishes clean and crisp. Flavors carry through on retronasal for a prolonged finish. Not a wine for the ages but one that is drinking well now and will do for several more years at least. After 24 hours the wine had become more port-like and was showing signs of early oxidation, but then its not meant to be Grange just bloody good value! 2, 2, 4.2, 10.2=18.4. 15.5% alcohol. Tasted August 23-24, 2004.

Retasted: Cherry red with red edge. Very open with sweet vanilla oak, blackberry and plumb and slight mint. Medium weight with good acidity. Soft and supple across the palate. Flavors carry well onto the palate. Well balanced. Developed toasted oak character. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.1 = 18.4/20, 92/100. Tasted June 23, 2005.

Forefathers McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 $22.99USD
Cherry red with pinkish red edge. Slight dirty dishwater stink overlays attractive aromas of stewed plums and pepper. Soft entry, medium weight, astringent tannins and a clean crisp acid finish. Flavors carry through on retronasal for a long finish. A well structured, attractive wine. After 24 hours the wine had developed a truffle-like aroma, was soft and supple with a clean acid finish and the flavors lingered. 2, 2, 3.5, 9.8=17.3. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted August 18-19, 2004.

O’Leary Walker Shiraz 2002 $19.99USD
60% Clare Valley/40% McLaren Vale fruit.
Cherry red with pink edge. Initially quite closed, giving up just some dusty oak. Soft and supple entry. Good weight in the mouth, supported by solid tannins and a crisp acid finish. Hints of great structure. Retronasal gave up some black fruits. Over time flavors of vanilla, lychees and nutmeg developed. At 24 hours the wine was still softer, more supple and more refined than most of the ‘02s tasted thus far. Much more integrated. Tannins are softer, acid holds the finish well. If it opens up more it will be an excellent wine. 2, 2, 3.7, 9.3=17.0. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted August 17-18, 2004.

Mitolo Jester McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 $21.99USD (Screw cap)
Cherry red with pink edge. Initial sulfur-like stink. Distinct herbaceous odor with chocolate undertones. Medium weight mouthfeel but lacking on the midpalate. There is a lot of acid in this wine and while the finish is clean it is also quite sharp and short. After 24 hours the wine had developed flavors of cloves and vanilla and the acidity had softened considerably, but the wine still lacks structure. 2, 2, 3.0 ,8.0=15 14% alcohol (although it says 14.5% on the Australian label). Tasted August 13-14, 2004.

Branson Coach House "Grenock Block" Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $38.99USD
Deep cherry red with red edge. Very open with oak, wet earth and chocolate notes. Mouthfilling but soft and supple (especially with food). Clearly some heavy oak treatment, but the wine is not overly astringent. A distinct herbaceous character developed over several hours. Good retronasal with the flavors lingering. After 24 hours the wine was somewhat subdued and had developed a slight sourness to the finish. This latter point is interesting as the first bottle I tasted of the wine had weeped leaving a wine stained cork. That wine had smelt of blackberry, chocolate and caramel, and later pepper. Had good mouthfeel and excellent retronasal but a sour finish. To me the smell of caramel and the sour taste spell oxidation. Given my experience with both bottles I would predict that this wine does not have along life ahead of it. 2, 2, 3.5, 9.5=17.0. 14% alcohol. Tasted August 8-9, 2004.

Turkey Flat Vineyards Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $16.99USD 375ml
Cherry red, pink edge. Quite closed. Hints of chocolate and dusty oak. Mouthfilling with big astringent tannins and a clean acid finish. Well balanced. More open on retronasal with blackberry and plum jam. Nice length to the finish. Became more open over several hours, but disappointing compared to several other wines that have been tasted from this vintage (see below). 2,2,3.0,9.0 = 16.0 Stored for 48 hours under vacuum seal after which it became much more open with chocolate, blackberry and licorice, and a hint of toasted oak. A prolonged finish. Well balanced. A nice wine. 2,2,4.0,9.7 =17.7. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted July 31-August 2, 2004.

(Scholz Family) Back Block Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $44.99USD
(12 months in American oak 100% shiraz from Light's Pass vineyard)
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open with oak, blackberry and chocolate. Mouthfilling with big, but unobtrusive, tannins. Covers the palate with chocolate. Finishes crisp and clean with a faint bitterness. Prolonged retronasal. A powerful wine. Developed mint (shiraz masquerading as cabernet), and some sweetness to the finish. 2, 2, 4.5, 10.3 = 18.8. 15.4% alcohol.

At 24 hours the alcohol began to show itself, but it is amazing that this wine holds together so well. Already throwing some sediment. Tasted July 27-28, 2004.

I've labeled the wine from the Scholz family, and it is, but that is not prominent on the label. The Sholz family also make the Willows Vineyard wines recently reviewed by TORB. Back Block does not seem to be among the wines described and from the description here in the United States its quite a limited release (60 cases) which makes me suspect that it might be a trial run at a Parkerized wine. Its certainly in that style.

Thorn-Clarke William Randell Barossa Valley Shiraz 2002 $31.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open, big chocolate and vanilla. Dusty oak and faint pepper. Good mouthfeel, fine tannins and clean acid finish. Flavors carry through on a pronounced retronasal. A very well balanced wine with years ahead of it. (Former notes from a Vinum glass. Using an ISO the most pronounced character was pepper!) After 24 hours the wine had a slightly hot character but nice blackberry and port-like flavors, soft tannins, clean acid finish, and a prolonged retronasal. 2, 2, 4.5, 10.0 = 18.5. 13.9% alcohol. Tasted July 20-21, 2004.

Hazyblur Baroota Shiraz South Australia 2002 $32.99USD
Deep cherry with pink edge. First impression is heat (from the alcohol). Very open with pronounced blackberry, cherry jam and slight pepper. Initially, the wine has good mouth feel, but this is followed by mouth drying tannins and a hard and sharp finish. Flavors fade on retronasal. This wine is not well balanced at all, and was thus unpleaseant to drink. After 24 hours under vacuum seal the remaining wine showed no change. 2, 2, 4.o, 8.5=16.5. 15% alcohol. Tasted July 13-15, 2004.)

This is the second Hazyblur wine I have tasted (see below) and I can't say I'm all that impressed. Both wines lack structure and finish quite short. The Baroota seems very hot, and although I believe the high alcohol explains much of this there may be some contribution from the handling of the grapes.

Sanguine Estate Heathcote Shiraz 2002 $34.99USD
Deep, dark cherry with a reddish edge. Prominent lychee nut, dusty oak and pepper. This could be Californian Zinfandel. Soft entry, good mouth feel, clean acid finish and soft tannins. Great retronasal. Over several hours developed chocolate and cedar flavors and a slight bitterness to the finish. At 24 hours there was a mushroom flavor and the finish was hard, hot and acidic. By 48 hours there was a jammy port-like flavor and some caromel, but the wine had softened and was still quite sound, and that retronasal just goes on and on. Alcohol 14.5%. Tasted June 14-16, 2004.

(I used a vacuum sealer on this bottle which may have helped protect against oxidation.)

Reasted January 9, 2006.
Slightly murky dense cherry red with red edge (unfiltered?). Rich blueberry/blackberry that became more spicy and peppery with time (1-2 hours). Also developed a dried tea leaf character. Spice note is cinnamon-like (and yes I did visit our spice rack just to make sure). Medium weight with excellent carry of flavors onto the palate. Soft and supple entry with very fine tannins. Mouthwatering acidity with some hardness to the finish. Does lack depth to the mid-palate. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.6 = 17.6/20, 88/100. 14.5% alcohol. Tasted January 9, 2006.

RockBare Shiraz McLaren Vale 2002 $13.99USD
Dark cherry red with pink edge. Very closed. Gave no true flavors over two hours. Well structured. Mouthfilling with good balance between acid and tannin. Tasted June 6, 2004.

Second bottle tasted June 9 and 10 was again dark cherry in color but a little less closed. Prominent initial flavors were of sulfur and dusty oak. Over about two hours there were fleeting hints of licorice, chocolate, pepper and cherries. Again a very well structured wine with balanced acid and tannins. After 24 hours the oak gave a toasted character and the wine had softened a bit. If this wine ever really opens up it could be excellent. Alcohol 14.5%.

Retasted May 9, 2005.
Dark cherry red with red edge. Aromas of blueberry, chocolate and toasted oak. Medium weight with clean acidity. Thin across the mid-palate but with firm tannins that give a smoky finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20, 89/100.

Gemtree Uncut Shiraz McLaren Vale 2002 $21.99USD
Cherry red with a pink edge. Prominent wintergreen mint with pepper and dusty oak flavors. The entry is soft and supple but is followed by pronounced astringency and a clean acid finish. Flavors carried through on retronasal. After 24 hours there were flavors of mint, leather and oak, and the wine had softened considerably. 14.5% alcohol. If I didn’t know this was shiraz I would have called it a young cabernet! (Note to self: Must buy a few more bottles.) Tasted June 4-6, 2004.

Ross Estate North Ridge Shiraz Barossa Valley 2002 $16.99USD ( Screw cap)
Dark cherry red, almost black. Looks like it came directly from the barrel. Initially a little closed with hints of chocolate and earth. In the mouth this wine is a little thin, and lacking in the mid-palate, with mouth watering acidity and an astringent finish. The flavors carry through on retronasal. Over a few hours it developed pepper and licorice flavors. The next day it showed some wintergreen mint charatcer but was even more astringent with a sharp acid finish. It might be interesting to revisit this in a year or two just to see if the screw cap lets the wine soften. 14% alcohol.

Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2002 $21.99USD
Very deep cherry red. Unusual mix of flavors. Herbaceous, with a hint of barnyard and old dishwater (sulphur?). Ripe fruit (almost sweet), and port-like. Good mouthfeel with soft but persistent tannins. Clean acid finish. Prolonged flavors on retronasal. Hard to believe this wine has 15% alcohol. A day after opening the wine had developed ripe red fruit, floral and mushroom flavors. The midpalate had softened, but the finish was a little hard. The tannins and alcohol are not overpowering but seem to be holding each other in check. Tasted May 25-26, 2004.

Hazyblur Shiraz Adelaide Plains 2002 $25.99USD
Dense cherry red with pink edge. Peppery (high alcohol), dusty oak, plum jam and chocolate flavors. Good mouth feel, with the high alcohol providing good weight, but lacking in the mid-palate. Clean crisp acid finish and fine tannins. Retronasal quite short. Did not improve much over 2 hours, in fact the finish became quite hot due to the alcohol (14%). I’m not sure this wine will stand the test of time, although the alcohol and acid should hold it together for a few years. Tasted May 23, 2004.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Pinot Noir From Around The World

This is the second in a series of wine tastings being held on a monthly basis at Vintage Wines, San Diego, California. The event was billed as:

Pinot Noir
May 20, 6:30-8:00PM
"Why is it that all enophiles end up drinking Burgundy? Several reasons come to mind: They are the hardest to find, the most elegant, the most versatile to pair with food and sometimes the most expensive! Come taste 8 wines comparing regions from California, Oregon, and Burgundy. We will talk about the different philosophies in production, grape growing and everything else involved in the production of a great wine. We hope to take some of the mystery out of getting a great bottle of Pinot Noir."

I must preface these tasting notes with the statement that Pinot Noir is not one of my favorite wines. But I must also note that I have had none of the great wines of Burgundy, nor have I had any truly aged pinots. Nonetheless I continue to search for that Pinot Noir that will awaken my interest. Unfortunately that wine was not found in this organized tasting.

The wines were poured before we arrived and tasted blind. Their identities were revealed after we had tasted the wines and voted for our favorite wine. There were about 20 people in the tasting group.

Shea Wine Cellars Block 23, Willamette Valley 2002 ($39.99US)
Brilliant cherry red color. Strawberries and lychees and a vinous character to the flavors. Good acidity to the finish and and the flavors carried through on retronasal. Not one of my favorites, but well liked by the rest of the group.

Joseph Roty Cuvee de Champs Chenys, Gevrey Chambertin 2001 ($43.99US)
Lighter in color than the first wine. A very closed wine that opened later with beef jerky and then honey flavors. A nice soft entry but a prominent acid finish with some bitterness. Little if any flavor on retronasal. My least favorite wine.

Failla Keefer Ranch, Russian River 2002 ($34.99US)
Another brilliant cherry red wine, with red berry and lychees flavors. Tannins gave a fuller mouth feel and the flavors carried through on retronasal. Developed more complexity during the tasting, becoming almost sweet. (Some detected chocolate, I couldn’t.)

Perrot Minot Gevrey Chambertin 2002 ($44.99US)
Light cherry in color. Earthy/dusty character that developed into a creaming soda (cola-like) flavor. Hint of barnyard. Very well balanced wine with a clean finish, and good flavor length on retronasal.

Broadley Claudia’s Choice, Willamette Valley 2002 ($39.99US)
Another cherry red wine. Strong nail polish remover (ethyl acetate) and berry flavors. Earthy/dusty. Although the wine developed more character in the glass, the mouth feel was too tannic and the wine seemed a little out of balance.

Perrot Minot Vieilles Vignes, Chambolle Musigny 2002 ($49.99US)
Cherry red color. A very closed wine. Vinous, oak flavors. A soft entry but too tart on the finish. What flavors there were carried through on retronasal. One of the least impressive wines of the tasting for me.

Lucia Gary’s Vineyard, Santa Lucia 2002 ($30.99US)
Light cherry red. Lightest colored wine of the group. Strawberries and lychees initially that developed into a creaming soda flavor. Soft entry and well balanced with a touch of sweetness and a crisp finish. Most persistent retronasal of the group. This wine was the group’s favorite.

Robert Arnoux Grand Cru, Clos Vougeot 1999 ($79.99US)
Cherry red with a faint orange tint suggested a wine with some age to it. Definite barnyard, and earthy characters. Very good mouth feel and a crisp finish with the flavors carrying well on retronasal. Developed well during the tasting, although the barnyard smell did become a slightly more manure stink.

I voted for the Clos Vougeot as my favorite wine but when I went back and added my scores the Lucia ended up on top with the Clos Vougeot coming in second.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Many Faces of Chardonnay

Vintage Wines of San Diego has several different wine tasting formats. The one described below is the first in a series of Thursday evening tastings. The event was billed as:
The Many Faces of Chardonnay
April 22nd, 6:30-8:00PM, (Vintage Wines, San Diego, USA)
”We will explore the ideas and taste differences of: Malolactic fermentation, the use of oak vs. stainless steel, how the coastal regions of Sonoma vary from the Napa Valley, and finally the different winemaking philosophies of the French in Burgundy and the New World wines of California and Australia. Eight wines will be tasted, and the cost is $30.00 per person.”

The wines were poured and tasted blind. However “Steve”, who ran the tasting, liked to talk quite a bit as we did our own evaluation of the wines. For me this type of continual interruption breaks my concentration so I didn’t try to score the wines, but because the wines were so varied and interesting I thought I should at least share my tasting notes – sparse as they may be. (FYI: In any case you’ll never get 15 word descriptors of flavor from any tasting notes I provide, three is pretty much a maximum. Which is pretty good seeing as how only 5% of expert tasters can correctly identify up to 5 in a mix!!)

The wines were still being poured as we sat down and this did affect at least two of the wines over the 90 minutes of the tasting. It would have been better for these wines to have been poured at least 30-60 minutes before we got to them. At the end of my tasting notes, in brackets, are comments on the production of the wine, e.g. MAF = malolactic fermentation.

2003 Keller Estate, Napa Valley, Oro De Plata ($19.99US)
This was a light straw and quite aromatic (put me in mind of a Semillion). These aromas carried through onto the palate and finished with clean if a little sharp acidity. (Stainless steel, no MAF).

2002 William Fevre, Chablis, Champs Royaux ($19.99US)
Again light straw in color and I thought it showed a little oak. On the palate the wine was very dry, very crisp with a clean finish. Obviously well balanced, but no standout characteristics. (Stainless steel)

2002 Oliver Jomain Puligny-Montrachet, Les Perrieres ($41.99US)
Light straw in color. Nice toasted oak and anise and very good mouthfeel but finished bitter. We were also give two other Oliver Jomain wines (a Puligny-Montrachet AOC $32.99US, and a Bourgogne $12.99US) to taste. These were not on the list but I believe they were either 2002 or 2003. I was more impressed with the Bourgogne as it had light oak, good mouth feel and nice clean acid. The other was too high in alcohol for me. All three wines showed anise on the nose.

2001 Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley, Estate ($25.99US)
Straw yellow. Oak on the nose and a waxy aroma I often get with chardonnay. (I some times wonder if this is not a chemical interaction between residual sulfur and buttery oak flavors?) This was a very well balanced chardonnay. Some could taste a flinty, almost metallic character, but I could not. (Oak, MAF)

2002 Guillemot-Michel, Macon, Quintaine ($23.99US)
This wine was straw yellow with a very floral nose, almost a dessert wine. I got a hint of ethyl alcohol. The mouthfeel was somewhat light and thin, but the wine was well balanced and the finish was clean and crisp. Retronasal was floral and spicy with again just a hint of ethylOH. A very unusual Chardonnay. (The grapes are apparently picked very late and the wine sees little oak.)

2000 Mount Eden, Santa Cruz Mtns, Estate ($33.99US)
Again straw yellow color but very much toasted oak on the nose. This (to me) was a typical California chard with good mouthfeel, not over oaked with clean acid on the finish (well balanced). The toasty oak carried through strongly on retronasal and might be off putting to some. I rated this wine as typical of the style of chardonnay I prefer as did a number of others in the group. (Oak, 50% MAF)

2000 Albert Grivalt, Mersault, Les Perrieres ($45.999US)
This wine smelt of sulfur (I also wrote dirty drain water) and (for me) it never lost that character throughout the tasting. (To me this is a fault.) Some people said it did fade, and so this was one wine that might have done better with more time in the glass. The wine was a little thin but soft in the mouth with nice oak and a nice acid finish. Again a well balanced wine, but poooh!!

2002 Lewis Cellars, Napa Valley, Reserve ($44.99US)
This wine was the only wine to show a green tinge to its straw yellow. There was toasty oak on the nose together with an unusual (and strong) almost herbaceous (I still can’t accurately describe it.) aroma. This carried through onto the palate, and I noted this wine to be my least favorite. When “Steve” took our votes for favorite wine there were several comments about this being a “typical California Chard”. I pretty much fell off my chair! But as we then tasted back through the wines with “Steve” talking about oak, MAF etc. this was the one wine that really opened up and by the end of the tasting it was a delight to drink. The unusual aroma vanished and clean toasted oak predominated. On entry the wine was now soft and round with great mouthfeel and just washed over the palate to finish with wonderful crispness. Its rare that I’ve had a wine that you can experience changing in such a seamless progression while in the mouth. It definitely turned out to be the wine of the night for me. (New oak, MAF)

The downside of the evening? Where were the Aussie chards we were promised?? And what's with the $.99 in the price of every wine?