Seattle Tasting Group does Aussie Shiraz

Bellevue, WA

Tasted January 21, 2006 by Eric with 951 views


Michael and Claire Gordon hosted the STG for a tasting of high-end Aussie Shiraz. I was a little worried, as my tastes have increasingly been running towards Hermitage and Cote Rotie, but I have also had many Aussies which have deeply impressed me. As it happened, I tended to be a bit more black and white than many of the tasters, as a number of the wines really bothered me. All wines were tasted blind.

Flight 1 (3 notes)

We started out with a planned pair of Rieslings and one bonus white tossed in.

1998 Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux Blanc France, Bordeaux
88 points
This wine was supposed to make an appearance two days earlier at a tasting, but alas it was forgotten. So to atone for his sin of forgetfulness, Michael had this open for us when we arrived. :)
Tasted blind, I had a hard time placing this. The nose is a little cheesy with some nutmeg, quite round with a rich and nutty interplay on the palate, the Semillon coming to the fore. On the finish the Sauvignon Blanc comes out, as this finishes out crisp and grassy, a nice finish.
1998 Frankland Estate Riesling Isolation Ridge Vineyard Australia, Western Australia, South West Australia, Frankland River
84 points
This white was more on theme. The nose is gorgeous with lots of petrol, very effusive. The body however is bone, bone dry, not at all generous and largely flat.
2002 Joh. Jos. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Germany, Mosel Saar Ruwer
88 points
AP #12. Ahh, what a nose. Talc, lots of sulfur and that young stinky minerality of the Mosel. The palate is zingy and vibrant although pretty lean and razor like. Quite nice!

Flight 2 (3 notes)

The first flight was a bit of a grab bag and certainly showed very contrasting styles.

1995 Henschke Shiraz Mount Edelstone Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
94 points
The rim is fairly transparent and watery, and the wine is clouded with a bit of fine sediment. The nose is smoky with some cola, rather mature. Ahh, some mint and eucalypt lift things up, certainly this is a Henschke, but is a HOG? Wow, a lovely nose that keeps getting better, nice and tarry. Mmm, the palate is lovely, surprisingly silky but with a ton of power in the mouth. Black pepper, more mint and menthol, quite intense. Mmm, this finishes out long with leather, bitter chocolate, and black cherry.
1995 Elderton Shiraz Single Vineyard Command Australia, South Australia, Barossa
90 points
Violet and lilac, some tomato plant, and cinnamon. It is also a little dirty smelling with a hint of burned ashtray. The palate is big and plummy with a sweet core yet not much initial focus and then a somewhat hollow mid-palate. At first the finish shows bitter almond. However, with time in the glass this comes together. I like the flavor profile here, and this has grown on me.
1998 Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz Langi Australia, Victoria
87 points
Murky in color. Some eucalypt on the nose but also followed by orange concentrate, tangerine, white pepper, gunflint and a whiff of brett. This starts out with a tart, tart attack, lots of citrus, then whammo, the leather hits you. This is very fresh with lots of that citric acidity and some tart cherry. I don't love it, but the wine is nice.

Flight 3 (4 notes)

Next up was the BIG BOY flight, and in fact it was quite disappointing.

2001 Marquis Philips Shiraz Integrity Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
83 points
This screams of young Marquis Philips, and I called this blind as the 2002 MP9. Inky black with lots of clove, loads of oak, a hint of green and some heat. The palate is HUGE with black fruit, searing power, vanilla cookie, and then an artificial overlay of very overt acidity, clearly added. I just can't take a wine like this any more even though I loved it a few years ago.
1993 Penfolds Grange Australia, South Australia
88 points
Big, plummy, overripe and roasted with a smell of almsot rotten fruit. It reminds me a bit of a Clarendon Grenache although with some brett. The palate is spicy with some pepper and then a simply massive wall of tannins and fruit. It is a bit astringent, but there is something to like here.
1995 Penfolds Grange Australia, South Australia
93 points
Hot, mmm, some lilac and powdered sugar, tar, cedar, wow and I mean a serious wowza. My notes on this blind wine say "Grange like, 1999?" This is a bit candied but my oh my. Dark, some cranberry flavors, a bit drying, but this is just young and tight.
1991 Henschke Shiraz Hill of Grace Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Eden Valley
84 points
Brett, a bit leafy, with some pine. Hmm, the palate is a bit sweet and somewhat indistinct. Oak. Just not exciting for me. Blind tasting is humiliating, but I liked a prior bottle from the same lot about 10 points more, oh well.

Flight 4 (5 notes)

We got back on track with a powerful and consistent mini-vertical of Block 6, very nice!

1999 Kay Brothers Shiraz Block 6 Amery Vineyards Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
91 points
A little mint, ash, and plum on the nose. A gorgeous, sweet core. Slightly astringent on the finish.
2001 Kay Brothers Shiraz Block 6 Amery Vineyards Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
92 points
A edgy nose with some leaf, brett and horse. The palate is almost impenetrable, dense, chalky, tannic, and black. It does get a lot softer with food. The finish shows licorice and some drying tannins. I do like the overall complexity though on this real youngster.
1998 Kay Brothers Shiraz Block 6 Amery Vineyards Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
95 points
This was my favorite of the 5 year vertical. Soy, ash, some VA and violet. Oh my, this shows AMAZING structure, a bit drying, simply HUGE. What an utterly fantastic palate, loaded with crushed raspberry and licorice. A lot to like here.
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1997 Kay Brothers Shiraz Block 6 Amery Vineyards Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
93 points
Bloody with a bit of heat, somewhat reticent. Dense, seamless, wow, less structure and more resolved than the rest, silky in fact. I like that this one is approachable, although even it shows some powerful albeit quite sneaky tannins.
2000 Kay Brothers Shiraz Block 6 Amery Vineyards Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
92 points
Mmmm, smoked meat baby, my kind of nose!!! The vibrancy here is spectacular, although perhaps this is a little sweet.

Flight 5 (3 notes)

The last flight, well I would have been very happy to have skipped this one...

2001 Torrent Shiraz USA, Washington, Columbia Valley
My goodness, what a disgusting ringer! Sickly with a nose of vitamin pill and burned rubber. Nasty.
2001 JJ Hahn Shiraz Nineteen Fourteen Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
80 points
Pickle barrel and Concord grape jelly. The palate tastes more of maple syrup than wine and finishes out nastily with a taste of IHOP (International House of Pancakes) boysenberry syrup. I like the stuff when I was 6, but I'm drinking it when I'm 36!
2001 Henry's Drive Shiraz Reserve Australia, South Australia, Limestone Coast, Padthaway

Flight 6 (2 notes)

Finally we finished off with a pair of dessert wines including one that was truly impressive!

Red - Fortified
N.V. Langmeil 20 Year Old Liqueur Shiraz Tawny Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
The story on the bottle is intriguing: "The 1980s were hard times in the Barossa. Demand was down and vines were being pulled. In 1985 Carl Lindner couldn't sell his premium shiraz crop. It was too good to waste so he fortified it and put it into French oak puncheons. Those hard times and Carl's foresight have resulted in this truly unique wine. A drop to treasure." That said, I tend to be pretty skeptical of many Aussie dessert wines. Well this wine was terrific! Long, nutty, very special and unique. Color me extremely impressed!
White - Sweet/Dessert
1996 McGuigan Sémillon Botrytis Personal Reserve Australia, New South Wales, Hunter Valley


Thanks Michael, and sorry it took me so long to get these posted!

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