GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Blind Tasting Shiraz/Syrah

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Dec 10, 2008.

Wines tasted;

1) 2005 Innocent Bystander Shiraz-Viognier 14.5% - 87pts
2) 2007 Sonoma Vineyards Syrah 13.8% - 89pts
3) 2007 Zonte’s Footsteps Shiraz-Viognier 14.5% - 91pts
4) 2006 Hyland Penley Estate Coonawarra Shiraz15%- 88pts
5) 2004 Leeuwin Estate Siblings Margaret River Shiraz 14% - 90pts
6) 2004 Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley Syrah 14.1% - 92pts
7) 2006 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump GSM 14.5% - 86pts
8) 2005 d’Arenberg d’Arry’s Original Shiraz-Grenache 14.5% - 88pts
9) 2006 Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz-Grenache 14.5% - 87pts
10) 2006 d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz McLaren Vale 14.5% - 93pts
11) 2006 Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz South Australia 14.5% - 89pts

12) 2006 Four Vines Killer Canyon Paso Robles Syrah 14.8% - 90pts

We had a few visitors from bean town down for the Tuesday and of course I wanted to welcome them Snooth style.

That means blind tasting of wines these guys aren’t likely to be running out to buy so in this case I turned to a few Australian Shiraz, with a ringer or three thrown in.

There’s no doubt that Australian Shiraz has lost market share over the past few years. In large part they are a victim of their own success. Australia produces great wines in a specific style that tend to over perform their price points. Today’s line-up were basically $12 wines and for the most part one would have to spend significantly more, double or triple, to get a noticeably better product. Well that paradigm sort of screwed the so-called mid-tier wines leaving Australia to fight it out in the under $15 category.

While there have been great successes in this category, some of those self same success have taken the breath away from the segment. Yellowtail has dominated the Australian Shiraz sector for years and those sales were cannibalized, in large part, from existing brands. Combine that with the emergence of big, juicy fruit driven reds from Spain, Chile, and Argentina at the same price points and you have some serious pressure.

Another factor that has worked against Australian wine is the fact that they have generally been tagged as “fruit bombs” and while that style has a distinct appeal and a loyal following the categorization of the entire Market as “fruit bomby” or gobby has turned many people off of the wines.

I was happy to try this great line-up from some of the best producers in Australia. It has been a fairly long time since I took a look at these wines and a revisit was sadly overdue. Most of the wines performed very well, showing fine typicity and exhibiting clean, balanced characters. They were great values across the board and while the American Syrah that were inserted as ringers in the line-up performed at least as well, 2 of the 3 were pricier than the Australian wine by a 50% in one case and 200% in another.

If you are looking for values and enjoy deep, robust Shiraz you owe it to yourself to check out some of these wines. The flights were really very interesting as we saw Shiraz on it’s own, blended with a dollop of Viognier, and in varying rations with Grenache. Each flight had its stars but the variety of wines offered intriguing values across the board. There was a style for almost everyone!

Flight 1

1) 2005 Innocent Bystander Shiraz-Viognier 14.5%
Unusually blood red - very violet florality, fairly alcoholic, spice, plum and faint leather. Big, fruit driven entry, nice mid-palate with good acidity and fine tannins support light nuanced pepper and herb notes that enhance the very red tart plum, red licorice fruits. Light and elegant but ends a touch hot 87pts

2) 2007 Sonoma Vineyards Syrah 13.8%
Opaque -reticent yet pure, light pepper toned black fruits, a touch of char/toast plum/blackberry/blueberry fruit with nuanced mineral, spice, flowers and almond notes - matte, surprisingly structured, bright acids, somewhat extracted tannins, spicy, pure boysenberry and light herb/cracked pepper notes then very plummy, big, dark and muscular if a touch simple, very clean and brisk on the finish though the dry wood tannins clamp down a bit, needs 6 months or some air but quite good 89pts

3) 2007 Zonte’s Footsteps Shiraz-Viognier 14.5%
Very floral and spicy, apricotty with notes of honeycomb and a slight gamey edge to the plum and lightly jammy black raspberry fruit with a hint of white pepper. This screams out for some lamb! Restrained in the mouth with lighter bodied attack that is a bit drying on the palate. A bit of an earthy style with jammy red and black fruits, a bit peachy even on the backend turning sweet and thicker with the relief of a minerally finish, complex and rich without being quite over the top 91pts

Flight 2

4) 2006 Hyland Penley Estate Coonawarra Shiraz15%
This open with some bright cassis syrup, it’s a touch hot and sweet smelling with candied fruit and fresh apple tones. Turns moderately spicy with a touch of butter and brett lurking in the background. Sweet on entry in a fruit bombish kind of way yet with plenty of acidity and good, soft, extracted tannins, very fresh appley quality on the palate, light spice and yellow floral tones, light finish, not a lot of follow through 88pts

5) 2004 Leeuwin Estate Siblings Margaret River Shiraz 14%
Jammy mulberry fruits at first then quite herbal and floral with farmyard drying grass, hay, touch of leather, meadow, earth, and minor smoky toast note. Really well balanced in the mouth with good weight without it feel fat or forced, really lovely mouthfeel with spice, and mineral tones balanced by soil and dusty earth notes that add complexity to the sour cherry fruit. Soft, integrated acids, perfect tannin balance, touch of vanilla and wild cherry /bitter cherry candy on the moderately long. Fun with zesty fruit if a bit atypical. 90pts

6) 2004 Kunde Estate Sonoma Valley Syrah 14.1%
Deep dark chocolately nose gains smoky oak, light spice with salty/sour plum fruit edged with roasted coffee oak then a minor brett/poop tones builds Mouth filling with fine balance and a real polished feel to the very fine tannins, a smidge soft acid though. The fruit is deep and plummy/ sour plum; touch green plum with a vanilla toned, nutty, almond edge. Pepper and spice and fresh anise pop on the moderately long finish which reveals a bit of stiff structure could use 1- 3 years in the cellar, nice fresh green note on the finish with emerging notes of dark crystallized plum, violet, and chocolate 92pts

Flight 3

7) 2006 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump GSM 14.5%
Faint and reticent at first, lots of alcohol but with sufficient strawberry, herb, white pepper, blue flower and a touch of metal notes to keep this moderately interesting. A bit sweet right up front but with lots of acid keeping this lighter bodied balanced and really fresh with estery fruitiness, red fruits, strawberry/raspberry/grape, herbal top notes, touch of earth, underbrush and vanilla on the finish. A bit hot but still easy to drink, very fruity finish but hot 86pts

8) 2005 d’Arenberg d’Arry’s Original Shiraz-Grenache 14.5%
This smells like a fruit bowl and a flower bowl with an effusive nose, spicy white pepper and curry/middle eastern notes then a touch of poop, intense and complex, intriguing with a sweet note of fruitcake. Big on entry with a plush but very smooth mouth feel with lots of acid and very fine tannins that are a touch drying but support the watermelon, spicy cherry/ dried cherry, dried cranberry, fruit bomb flavors very well. Light finish with very gentle wood spice tones and cleansing acidity, red fruits galore with a vanilla and herb edge. It’s a touch simple but very true to type. 88pts

9) 2006 Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz-Grenache 14.5%
Black peppery, big black berry jam fruit with very nice tone of black tea and English breakfast tea and a bit of toast. Smells like breakfast! Lightly smoky and honied with an emerging touch of almond brittle. Bigger styled in the mouth though smooth and soft, a fruit bomb. Actually has goods structure just not immediately apparent, though the dark berry and plum fruit is a touch indistinct on the mid-palate and this looses focus turning once again a touch flabby and loose. Finishes with a touch of cocoa, vanilla and tea then a bit spicy with a cinnamon red-hot note. Solid if uninspired. 87pts

Flight 4

10) 2006 d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz McLaren Vale 14.5%
Opens with a big black pepper, black plum and oak driven nose which is followed by meaty, grilled meat, rare meat tone and top notes of violets, spice, mushroom, tar, gunpowder and a fruity baked spiced apple note. Rich and very finely balanced in the mouth with good acid and modest tannins yielding a slightly chewy, slightly spicy, very bright and slightly astringent blackberry and black plum core of fruit. Gains earthy hints on the edges, which recall fudge, and pops on the finish with distinct pepper, Asian spice, and vanilla accents. Complex and fun to drink 93pts

11) 2006 Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz South Australia 14.5%
Deep and dark and brooding at first with a core of black earth, spicy wood tones, vanilla, clove smoke, cigar, blackberry and rhubarb jam. Big and, slightly amorphous in the mouth with good acids and concealed tannins in a smooth soft package that offers brambly dark cherry and spicy mulberry jam fruit, big, intense, slightly simple, and with a shortish finish this reminds me a bit of Zinfandel 89pts

12) 2006 Four Vines Killer Canyon Paso Robles Syrah 14.8%
Open insistent with lots of white oak and jam accented with Asian and baking Lots of clove and ginger with a sweet cigar tone that supports the jammy cherry fruit. Big in the mouth, real powerful but also pretty fresh with the fruit well draped and concealing the structure, has a bit of Petit Sirah like plum, earth and spice, then the fruits turn bluer, blueberry boysenberry and vanilla with a touch of RC cola. Clean and focused if a bit short on the finish. The finish is pleasantly spicy and actually quite long but the sweetness mutes the flavors. Punchy and full if lacking a bit of subtlety. 90pts


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