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Australia - 'Anything but Shiraz'


bills
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Notes from an excellent blind tasting dinner event focussing on Australian wine – ‘anything but red Shiraz’.

Held at a local bistro and accompanied by 9 creative courses which ranged from sublime to slightly maladroit (in terms of matching sauces with food) but almost always with a signature saltiness that I find tiring to the palate, but then I use very little salt, so others may react differently.

2002 Yalumba Hand Picked Riesling Eden Valley – typical Riesling petrol nose, with a bit of cheese and pear mixed in, and perhaps a bit of flint. Good balance, finishing with lime – very dry, and very good.

1999 Leeuwin Estate Margaret River Riesling Art Series – an embarrassment of riches, not one but two good Australian Rieslings, and they paired exceptionally well with the food. This one was showing an almost Botrytis nose, obviously had more age and was nutty and smooth, well balanced and dry, although not as strikingly so as the previous wine.

1998 Clarendon Hills Blewit Springs Old Vines Grenache – a dark cherry nose with a hint of cheese and a bit of heat, medium weight, soft tannins, sweet at entry, drier at end. 15%

1996 Glaetzer Malbec Cabernet (Barossa) – medium colour, lighter than the others, with a minty raspberry nose, warm sweet entry and good length. Very nice.

1993 Penfolds Bin 707 – I was pleased to find that I have 3 bottles of this (somewhere) in my cellar, as this wine showed well. The nose, which has over the years been very concentrated if a bit simple was now showing some differentiation and smelling it no longer resembles plunging your nose into a dish of black currant jelly. In fact it is a nicely developed nose with some mintiness and mature cabernet character, yet the wine has lost none of its impact on palate, with still huge fruit, exceptionally long finish and relatively low acidity. A very ‘friendly’ wine, only now coming ‘on line’.

1987 Ch. Tahbilk (Victoria) – it was my dubious pleasure to present my modest offering right after Wine-zilla. The oldest wine of the night (I figure it is my duty to attempt to bring a note of maturity to these events. I also bring older wine…..), it had good colour, only showing a bit of browning at the edges. Mature cabernet nose, with a transient hint of rubber, and some lead pencil. Perhaps an initial whiff of volatile acidity, but that was quickly gone. Well built and interesting.

1999 Leeuwin Estate Cabernet Art Series – (86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, and 3% Malbec). Some cedar and dark berry in this somewhat reticent nose, and a bit of heat in the mouth, along with decent fruit on palate and good length. This developed in the glass, but never showed what I’d call a really good nose.

1998 Virgin Hills – with Cabernet Shiraz Malbec Merlot this wine violated the no red Shiraz guideline. Punishment for this transgression was suspended in view of the excellent performance of the wine. The nose was a bit unusual in that along with dark fruit, it evidenced a definite saltiness! Also a hint of VA, and some mint. Again the refrain of heat in the mouth, accompanied by nice flavour definition and decent length. Wonder how the Australians named this winery, given that the subject matter is reputed to be about as common in Oz as leprechauns…….

1996 Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet – great nose with soy sauce and cocoa, this big, dark wine was smooth in the mouth and showed good length, marred only by perhaps a little too much terminal acidity. Still lots of soft tannin, and no rush to drink it. I have the 1994 of this and am wondering when to give it a try – anyone had it lately?

Campbell’s Rutherglen Muscat (NV) – Reddish colour, ripe overly sweet nose, finishing up very much like tea! Different.

No bad wines, no Shiraz (well not much, anyway) and some interesting food and wine combinations.

Edited by bills (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for this. I too have a few 707's lying around. Might crack one this weekend.

As for Virgin Hills... hmmm... i'll ask someone.

I am also pleased to hear of your self-regulating Shiraz ban.

I'm over the stuff at the moment, although a notable exception is the Charles Melton (B.Valley) Cab-Shiraz blend 2003, a bottle of which will be cracked this weekend.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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Thanks for this. I too have a few 707's lying around. Might crack one this weekend.

As for Virgin Hills... hmmm... i'll ask someone.

I am also pleased to hear of your self-regulating Shiraz ban.

I'm over the stuff at the moment, although a notable exception is the Charles Melton (B.Valley) Cab-Shiraz blend 2003, a bottle of which will be cracked this weekend.

While I can understand why you don't want to drink another over-the-top shiraz, I have plenty of customers here in Washington, DC who crave this stuff. The higer the Parker number, the better.

Mark

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