Posts Tagged ‘shiraz’

The Vintage: “A vintage summarised as a vintage that ripened without interruptions and producing moderate yields. Low to moderate winter rain with good follow-up rains in November enabled adequate moisture to support the potential crop load and allow it to slowly develop over summer. The summer was cool and dry followed by a very dry, warm autumn, which was unusual. This allowed many varieties to ripen early and without interruptions. The fruit has great floral aromatics with good intensity and perfectly balanced with excellent concentration, flavour development and length as well as lovely ripe, gritty tannins. Nearly every variety we have harvested exceeded classified expectations due to the exceptional autumn conditions.”

The Winemaking: “Very concentrated ripe bunches of Shiraz and Viognier were gently crushed by the “Demoisy” open mouthed, rubber toothed crusher, then co-fermented together in traditional, headed down open fermenters where the traditional foot-treading in wader- clad feet takes place. After about 2 weeks the must (the still fermenting juice) was then gently basket pressed by our 19th Century “Coq” and “Bromley & Tregoning” presses, and then transferred into American and French oak barriques for maturation.”

d’Arenberg “The Laughing Magpie” McLaren Vale 2005
Tasting Notes: 94% Shiraz, 6% Viognier, aged 12 months in American and French oak. 0.7 g/L sugars, 6.8 g/L acidity, 15% vol. Blood red in the glass. On the nose there are strong black fruits, pretty floral notes, balanced oakiness, and sweet vanilla-cinnamon spices. Dark chocolate dominates on the palate, accompanied by ripe cassis and blackberries, a juicy and balanced acidity and smooth tannins. This is a big but also well-integrated wine.
Rating: 16/20 (91/100)
Price: US$19.99 @ Winelibrary.com


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Thelema Mountain Vineyards Stellenbosch “Shiraz” 2003
Tasting Notes : 100% shiraz, aged 18 months in oak barrel, about half new oak, 13.5% vol. A deep purpleish, ruby red in the glass. Sweet oak, cinnamon, and mint notes, followed by red and black fruits on the nose. Overall the aromas display an elegant and sweet spicyness. Smooth texture, light tannins and a juicy acidity in the mouth. This is a medium-bodied, well-balanched wine with notes of bitter dark chocolate and sweet black cherry, lingering on through the rather nice finish.
Rating : 15/20 (90/100)
Price : $35.99 @ estate

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About six months ago, I got a new job.  Same company, I just got shuffled due to a very significant reorganization.  Turned out, not only was it better than getting a severance package, it was a bit of a promotion, which is nice.

Alas, as is often the case, promotions mean more responsibility.  I’m also learning about parts of our business in which I have no experience, so I’m pretty busy.  Blogging took a back seat (as did taking many notes when drinking wine.)

I’m finding more balance now, and should at least be good for a weekly wrap up of the wines I had during the week.

This week, we have a winner, a loser, and a tough sell.

The Winner:

2010 Domaine Guy Mousset Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Réservée

Appellation:  Côtes du Rhône

Tasting Notes:  13% ABV.  Very light pink.  Nose is fresh, sour cherry and strawberry, roses.  Very nice!  Good acid, minerals, some heft, but crisp.  Bright red fruit.  Complex for a rose.  Very good.

Rating:  4/5

Price:  Under $10 (not sure, exactly, my wife bought it)

The Loser:

2008 R. Stuart & Co. Pinot Noir Big Fire

Appellation:  Oregon

Tasting Notes:  100% Pinot Noir.  13.1% ABV.  Very light in the glass, almost rose.  Nose is red jam, some funk, not exciting.  Tasted like sour fruit juice.  Terrible.  Dumped the bottle.

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe (for the sake of the winemaker) it was a bad bottle; but this was like the worst of mass produced Pinot.

Rating:  1/5

Price:  $19 at the winery.

The Tough Sell:

2005 Two Hands Shiraz Sophie’s Garden

Appellation:  Padthaway, South Australia

Tasting Notes:  100% Shiraz.  15.6% ABV.  Very dark color.  Inky.  Nose is strawberry and grape jam, then some dust.  The nose makes me think big Aussie Shiraz, which is not a good thing for my palate.  On the palate is big bright red fruit, pepper, anise, some minerals.  More complex than I thought it might be.  Some acid, tannins are there but not overpowering.  Hot on the finish.  Not as hefty as I thought it would be.  Ended up better than the nose would indicate.

Take my notes with a grain of salt, as this is not my favorite style of wine, but it’s a pretty good example.  Decanting will help, and I plan to do so before having the rest of it with steak.  Good, not great.  A hint more smoothness and weight would have helped, and I think some air might add that dimension.

Rating: 3/5

Price:  $30


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Pettavel “Boolaroo Shiraz” Victoria 2003
Tasting Notes : 100% shiraz, 14.5% vol. Brick red in the glass. The nose is very rich, sweet and fruity. The high alcohol is a little too much but not an overkill. There’s a mild, yet pleasant funk, accompanied by savory and spicy notes, subtle oak, as well as red and black fruits. Bold and rich in the mouth with more ripe black fruits, sour black cherries and some jamminess. The tannins are sweet and smooth. There is a fairly good balance although this wine is a little bitter, sour and alcoholic, and a little too jammy. Savory is the key word on the finish. Notes of rare and bloody red meat linger, not fully unpleasant, but a little disjointed. Drink this wine with food definitely !
Rating : 13+/20 (85/100)
Price : US$9.99 @ Winelibrary

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2008 Heartland Stickleback Red

Appellation: South Austraila

Tasting Notes: 61% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon,  14% Dolcetto, 5% Lagrein.  14.5% ABV  Color is a very pretty dark purple.   Nose is fruit bomb, blueberry and raspberry.  Attack is very fruity, but more balanced than I expected.  Very smooth mouthfeel, nice subtle tannin, a little oak, but not overpowering. More blueberry on the finish.  Like a pie.  Way too fruity for my tastes, but not offensive.  A little heat on the back end, kicking it a bit off balance.  I was really excited to try this wine given the interesting blend, but it remains an over the top Aussie Shiraz.  Not my thing, but I won’t dump it.

Rating: 2/5

Price: Unknown, was in a mixed case.  Cellartracker says it’s $13.75.

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MPA Judgment of ParisAnother Saturday in Paris, another MPA wine tasting.  This time around John and I decided to take advantage of our Christmas vacation back home in the States.  So we put together what was sure to be an intense, exciting, and potentially even a little bloody blind face off between French, American and Australian wine (3 syrahs and 2 gewurztraminers).

The inspiration was the famous (or infamous from the French perspective) “Judgment of Paris” blind tasting back in 1976.  The best wines of California were paired up against the best wines of France and to everyone’s bewiliderment the US came out on top.  The complete summary can be found at the very end of this blog.

In the case of the MPA Judgment of Paris there are many clear distinctions.  First our focus was on value-driven wines no more than 20 euros or 20 US bucks.  Second, we compared Alsace to California and the Northern Rhone Valley to California and Australia.  The original Judgment of Paris paired up California against Bordeaux, focusing only on the who’s who list of bottlings.

And voilà, however much it pains me to say it (sarcasm), France came out on top with a very classic Old World style syrah from Saint-Joseph in the Northern Rhone Valley.  Although, the only wine that really did not fair well was the Alsace Gewurztraminer.  Overall I was very happy with how all the other wines performed.  And a further look into the individual ratings shows interestingly enough that the Americans actually liked the French syrah even more than the French.

Of course this is all in good fun.  At the end of the day who the heck cares?!  If you really appreciate wine, then there’s no such thing as 1st, 2nd or 3rd, there’s only what you like.  So drink what you like and explore as many different wine types and regions as possible!

The MPA Breakdown…

1st Place – French Syrah
2007 Saint-Joseph, André Perret, 16,50 euros
2007 Saint-JosephAppellation: Saint Joseph, Vallé du Rhone Nord
Source: Lavinia, Paris
MPA 13.9 Rating: Very terroir driven nose with aromas of leather, dampness, smoke, honey and fresh earth.  A very, very smooth palate with a medium body, light tannins, balance and complexity.  There are flavors of blueberry, blackberry, chocolate.
Robin, “easy listening version of the Australian shiraz”
Genevieve, “Paris metro”
Alexandre, “mushrooms”
Xiaoya, “flowers and cheese”
Kenny, “distant red candy Starburt or Skittles on the very backend of the nose”
Tim, “grapes”
Joseph, “metallic smell, tasted like water was added”
Kenny’s 16 Rating: Aromas of wet forest, smoke and leather with distant red candy Starburt or Skittles on the very backend of the nose.  An acidic, medium-bodied palate with silky and subtle tannins and great balance.  There are flavors of black cherry, dark chocolate, and blueberries.

2nd Place – American Gewurztraminer
2007 Hook & Ladder Gewurztraminer, $17.99 USD
2007 Hook & Ladder GewurztraminerAppellation: Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Source: Wine Vault, Columbus OH
MPA 12.5 Rating: Aromas of flowers, apple, lemon, and minerals.  Very effervescent and acidic palate; and also dry, complex and bitter.  Flavors of lemon, apple, pear and hot spice.
Robin, “petrol”
Sanj, “sense of terroir”
Miki San, “Tabasco”
Tim, “cane sugar”
Joseph, “drying pollinated leafs after rainfall”
Kenny’s 14 Rating: A subtle and acidic nose with a strong minerality, white pepper and mango.  A very effervescent, dry wine with flavors of lemon and orange.

3rd Place – American Syrah
2006 Novy Syrah2006 Novy Syrah, Novy Cellars, $20 USD
Appellation: Sonoma County, California
Source: Andersons, Columbus OH
Wine Spectator 90 Rating: This is notably peppery, but joined by fresh plum and wild berry fruit that’s supple, graceful, complex and spicy, gaining length and traction on the finish. Drink now through 2012. 1,385 cases made.
MPA 12.4 Rating: Aromas of earth, spice, cherries, plum, blackberries, port wine, black licorice, oak, pepper and minerals.  Full-bodied, acidic and sour with light tannins and a long finish.  There are flavors of chocolate, smoke, plum, blackberries, hot spice, vanilla, oak, and black licorice.
John, “unpleasant and sour”
Casey, “smells like dirt”
Xiaoya, “rubber”
Cynthia, “damp forest”
Kenny, “light barn nose and milk chocolate finish”
Miki San, “hot cocoa”
Kenny’s 15 Rating: Big alcohol on the nose with aromas of pepper, earth, light barn, black cherry and oak.  A full-bodied, acidic wine with velvety tannins and flavors of smoke, plums, blueberries, sour cherry and a milk chocolate finish.

4th Place – Australian Shiraz
2006 2 Up Shiraz, $14.99 USD
Appellation: McLaren Vale, Southern Australia
2006 2 Up ShirazSource: Andersons, Columbus OH
Wine Spectator 87 Rating: Creamy and generous with its currant and rhubarb flavors, finishing with a grainy texture and pretty layers of fruit and spice. Drink now through 2012. 15,000 cases imported.
MPA 12.3 Rating: A very strong and alcoholic nose with aromas of blackberries, oak, plum, and seaweed.  An overwhelming, fruit forward, full-bodied, tannic palate with strong flavors of black cherry followed by plum, spice, licorice and vanilla.
Jeremy, “fish and leather jacket”
Xiaoya, “BBQ”
Kenny, “very fruiter”
Miki San, “Chinese herbal medicine”
Joseph, “rusty”
Kenny’s 15 Rating: Black fruit, subtle earth and cedar on the nose.  A very fruity and bitter, full-bodied wine.  There are flavors of blueberry, cherry, and lots of black licorice as well as a subtle background of citric zest.

5th Place – French Gewurztraminer
2007 Gewurztraminer, Willy Gisselbrecht, 10,50 euros
Appellation: Vin d’Alsace
Source: La Grande Epicerie, Le Bon Marché
MPA 11.6 Rating: Aromas of flowers, fig, peach, lychee, overripe fruit, and citrus.  Sweet, bitter, soft and unbalanced, with flavors of apple, flowers and honey
Robin, “a little cloying”
2007 Willy Gisselbrecht GewurwtraminerSanj, “Elderflower”
Jeremy, “velvet honey”
Xiaoya, “cheese”
Miki San, “green apple Jolly Rancher”
Joseph, “candy bar”
Emmanuelle, “Mirabelle”
Kenny’s 13 Rating: Aromas of lychee, flowers and syrup.  An off-dry wine with flavors of spice, lime and lime peel, lychee, flowers, and apple.

Blind Pick Winner
Nick Holman (Cynthia’s husband) takes the prize, accurately guessing all 5 bottles and their respective country of origin.  John and I batted 1000 as well but naturally we’re disqualified from the fierce competition.

MPA Ratings…

MPA Ratings

The Judgment of Paris

The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the “Judgment of Paris” was a wine competition organized in Paris on 24 May 1976 by Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant, at that time revered by wine merchants and experts all across France.  The top French wine experts of the day were invited to participate in a blind tasting of the highest-quality chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines from France and California.  California wines rated best in every category, which caused surprise and utter bewilderment among the French critics as France was generally regarded as being the foremost producer of the world’s best wines.  The San Francisco Wine Tasting of 1978 soon followed as a rematch of the same wines and vintages and once again California wines rated better.  The 30th anniversary of the Judgment of Paris was held on 24 May 2006 with the same vintages and original panel of judges, plus an additional crew of new wine experts.  Once again the California wines stole the show.

30th Anniversary Results:

1st Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1971
2nd Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973
3rd Mayacamas Vineyards 1971 (tie)
4th Heitz Wine Cellars Martha’s Vineyard 1970 (tie)
5th Clos Du Val Winery 1972
6th Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970
7th Château Montrose 1970
8th Château Haut-Brion 1970
9th Château Leoville Las Cases 1971
10th Freemark Abbey Winery 1967

Implications to the wine industry:

George M. Taber from Time magazine was the only reporter present at the original tasting in 1976, since no one took the event seriously, thinking that the California wines would be embarrassed.  Time immediately reported the results on a worldwide scale.  However, the tasting was not significant for the French press who virtually ignored the story for three months until Le Figaro published an article titled “Did the war of the cru take place?” describing the results as “laughable,” and said they “cannot be taken seriously.”  Six months after the tasting Le Monde wrote a similarly toned article.  For as much as a year after the tasting, leaders of the French wine industry banned Spurrier from the nation’s prestigious wine-tasting tour, and Mr. Spurrier was even ushered out of a few of France’s more prestigious wine estates.  Both countries are considered to have benefited from the tasting.  California wines gained international appreciation, boosting sales and production.  France further refined their winemaking practices, which some argue had become too habit driven as a result of so much history and tribal knowledge.

Two movies have been made about the tasting, “Bottle Shock” and “Judgment of Paris”, as well as a book, also titled “Judgment of Paris”, the latter two both authored by George Taber.


Naturally criticism abounds.  For starters some claim that the vintage selection was poor for the French wine.  However, when consulting vintage charts from US and French sources, both countries have very comparable vintage ratings within the timeframe in question.  Additional critics state that it’s unfair or rather irrelevant to compare French wines to California wines, since the styles are so different.  French wines are classified as Old World and are generally more subtle, acidic and expressive of their terroir.  California wines are classified as New World and tend to be much more fruit forward and oaked.

Sources: Wikipedia.com & Winelibrary TV Interview of George Taber

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