From Stonewell, Barossa Valley, South Australia.
Super saturated wine. Inky colour. Aromas of densely packed fruit and well handled American oak. A very concentrated wine that carries its 14.5% alcohol effortlessly. Silky, rather than soft, with some milky American oak flavours. There are hints of the chocolate milkshake style Barossa shiraz but the structure and level of concentration are different. This is a new wave Barossa shiraz, finer, more concentrated (see earlier post on styles of Barossa shiraz).
My only criticism is that the wine is somewhat closed at present. It’s approachable but flavours are so close knit. Also there is a touch of burntness – personal preference if you think this is good feature or not. I didn’t I’d prefer some more savoury rather than burnt notes. I’d prefer some French oak. In future vintages it would be nice to see more focus on complexity rather than just balance and concentration.
Only 33 cases of this wine were made ! Which makes this review rather academic. But presumably production is increasing. This bottle was given to me by a friend, who is sister of the owner/vigneron. But that doesn’t mean I’m biased. I’ve given it lower points than Robert Parker did for the 2003 (lesser vintage). And a tad lower than for Winter Creek – perhaps unreasonably, but because this wine is more closed at present.
Coteaux du Languedoc
The top wine of this producer, which one of my french wine books notes prominately as “run by women” ! Gender perhaps is suppsosed to affect the taste of the wine. Well it must be of the better as this is at the forefront of Languedoc wines.
A shiraz, grenache, carignan blend – heavily weighted to the former varieties and given new oak. This is a serious wine for the region.
It has an obvouious milky aspect, and interesting, though not overt, fruit flavours. A decent to fine, not commercial manufactured New World, wine – yet one that many in the New World could appreciate as it is ripe and not dilute.
PS available in Australia from Dan Murphy’s (around A$20).
Cote d’Or, Burgundy, France 13%
Medium red; toasty oak on the nose; moderately rich palate, not highly concentrated but with real flavour, and some grip.
For some reason I got into my head that this was destined for early drinking. It’s not a long keeper, but at 5 years old it could still do with some time to soften and fatten.
Tyson Stelzer has this very interesting web site promoting his well researched books on cellaring wine, and “screwed for good” – on screw cap enclosures.
I did download from his site this very interesting list of his top 500 wines for 2004. And 2003.
I’ve just noticed that two of the highest (if not the highest) rated wines on this web site are for Chenin Blanc based wines (one Australian and one French).
OK I gave the reviews so I shouldn’t be surprised. But this is a varietal that I very very seldom drink. Who does drink chenin blanc regularly ? I don’t think there is any doubt that it is one of the great grape varieties of the world, capable of producing fine wines with great longevity. But it seldom gets any attention. While that other (sauvignon) blanc’s popularity just keeps growing. Odd.
100% Syrah / Shriaz
From a fine Rhone vintage, a big brand, made in volumes and priced to be attractive to restuarants around the world. Trading on the name Hermitage. I’ve not been impressd with this wine in the past, but the vintage was a good one.
Med red, some nice savoury leather aromas but also water and rose petals (not attractive in a shiraz). Tastes the same, very dilute. How can you make a wine like this in such a vintage ? There are far better Languedoc wines – and the Languedocis famous for over cropping. Very disappointing.
Although my experience of of the world’s finest Burgundies goes no further than my trip there in 2003, I understand Myles’ neurotic passion for his beloved Pinot! The ever-so-forgetable examples of Pinot I’ve consumed in the past 15 years well exceed the ethereal bottles of heaven I’ve had the pleasure to consume. Thankfully, this wine falls into the latter bracket.
Australian Pinot is often maligned for being too-anything. Too dark, too oaky, too short, too light, too simple, too…. you get the picture. Australian producers of this variety have done themselves no favours by releasing wines that should never have made it to market. Some examples of Australian Pinot should just have been released as dry red wine, or sold off to a large producer for blending, to save the heartache that comes with a failure to produce the holy grail of winemakers. I suspect that ego and cash flow are the main reasons behind the release of sub-standard Pinot, but neither reason is an acceptable excuse when alternative options exist.
Back to the Paringa Estate. You’ll note I said- wow! This wine has won a heap of awards, not least of which was the gong it got at the Sydney wine show. Unfortunatley, there were only two barriques of the wine made (aprox 50 cases). This Pinot is one of the best I’ve tried. The wine had a breath of freshly ground cinnamon over a bowl of strawberries and clotted cream. There were hints of sour cherry, stemminess and whiffs of mushroomy undergrowth. Bacon and smoke could also be found for those with patience and a keen nose. The texture was pure class! The tannins were fine and supple and the length of the wine just kept going and going.
Perhaps it was the char-grilled lamb rump with artichoke mash and wilted spinach I had with the wine? It could have been the fellow Pinotphiles or even the lateness of the evening. Whatever it was, this wine was amazing for its depth of flavour, intensity of fruit and beautifully balanced structure!
If you can get hold of this wine- snap it up! The (almost $100-) price tag makes it out of reach for many, but your search-and-spend mission is far more rewarding than much of the wine from Burgundy.