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Paul Lin

Paul's interest in wine extends beyond simple appreciation and enjoyment.  As an academic, he's never without his notepad and pen, and he loves to analyze a wine the way a scholar might pore over a fine piece of literature.  After being bitten by the wine bug during graduate school, Paul embarked on his wine journey out of a sense of intellectual curiosity and romantic self-indulgence.  Recently, he has turned his sights from simply drinking and writing about wine to actually making the stuff.  In 2007, under the label Terra Novus, Paul produced his first barrel of Pinot Noir from grapes from the Sonoma Coast. 

Eric Anderson

Eric first became interested in wine in 1983, after sampling the 1982 Bordeaux vintage. It was a watershed event, and he immediately began to accumulate a library of wine books, and spent the next several years attending as many wine tastings and seminars as possible. Since 1990, Eric has chronicled over 600 visits to wineries, both in the U.S. and Europe. Aside from simply enjoying the beverage, he found his interactions with winemakers and proprietors has further enriched his life, and continued to nourish his interest in wine. Eric is also part of GrapeRadio, the James Beard nominated podcast series.

Australia Day Tasting - January, 2007

Everyone would probably agree that wine tasting is a subjective matter - maybe even highly subjective. One person's "stunner" might be another person's "blah." Yet, there are also occasions when there is a meeting of the mind as to what is in the glass. We've always wondered just how much and how often tasters will differ in their opinions of the same wine. With that in mind, we felt it would be downright interesting, if not instructional, to have two tasters sample the same wines and write tasting notes on each - for side-by-side comparison.

Overall impressions: this Aussie lineup offered an interesting opportunity to taste through many vintages, giving us a nice cross-section of wines. It's probably safe to say that we were looking forward to the several of these near ledgendary wines. This event was held at an unusual setting: Outback Steakhouse.

Our two tasters agreed, relatively speaking, on several of the wines poured at this tasting. Yet, they obviously had differing opinions about some of the other wines - some quite notable. In fact, when reading the notes, you might even wonder if they were tasting the same wine. So, who's right? Well, if you learn one thing from this episode, there is no right or wrong - just differences. There are differences in how we each perceive aromas and flavors, differences in how we think one thing compares to another, and so on. There are also external forces at work at most tastings. For instance, the fact is that this was also a dinner tasting, and thus the food component could have easily swayed one into a positive or not-so-positive opinion about a given wine. So, let's take a look at the same wines from 'both sides now.'

Paul's Tasting Notes

Flight #1 - Whites

Eric's Tasting Notes

Flight #1 - Whites

2005 Two Hands Moscato Brilliant Disguise - Barossa Valley
Lychee and peach notes. A bit of spritz at the outset adds an interesting texture. Simple, but tasty. (89 pts.)

2005 Two Hands Brilliant Disguise Moscato (RP 91):
Nose of some candied apple and stone fruits on the nose, with a bit of ginger on the palate. As Paul mentioned, this really did pair well with the coconut shrimp appetizer; the bloomin' onion - not so much. The slightly sweet spritz was very nice on the palate, though this could have easily caused the issue with the next wine up-to-bat. 6.5% alc.
2002 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series - Margaret River
A harsh wine. Straw and hay notes with a rough texture and bitter finish. (84 pts.)
2002 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay Art Series:
As mentioned, this followed a slightly sweet Moscato, which may have at least partly responsible for doing it in. That said, it didn't seem to put me off as much as the other folks, and I felt it had nice lemon-lime and a touch of grapefruit throughout.
Flight #2 - Grenache Flight #2 - Grenache

2001 Clarendon Hills Grenache Old Vines Kangarilla Vineyard - Clarendon
Tar and smoke on the nose. Red fruits, bittersweet chocolate, prune, and spice. 87-88 points. (87 pts.)

2001 Clarendon Hills OV Grenache Kangarilla (RP 95):
Really neat dark cherry, with a creamy vanilla/mint quality, and some nice sappy notes throughout. 14.1% alc.
2002 Clarendon Hills Grenache Old Vines Romas - Clarendon
Nice mouthfeel with palate of red fruits, green peppercorns, and herbs. 88-89 points. (89 pts.)
2002 Clarendon Hills Grenache Romas (RP 96):
Had an interesting rustic/floral/stem thing going on in the nose. Found the mouthfeel slightly bitter on the back end, but the whole package seemed to get better and more interesting with time. 14.5% alc.
2004 De Lisio Grenache - McLaren Vale
Lighter in weight and a bit thin compared to the Clarendon Hills Romas. Bright red fruits, vanilla, and cocoa on the palate. But certainly a delicious wine and my WOTF. 91-92 points. (91 pts.)
2004 De Lisio Grenache (RP 95):
Big, dense, and gorgeous nose that was packed with raspberry and black raspberry liqueur. Mostly smooth & chewy in mouthfeel, but a little young so still showing some coarseness too. Nice wine, seemingly a little monolithic right now.
Flight #3 - Shiraz Flight #3 - Shiraz

1997 Fox Creek Shiraz Reserve - McLaren Vale
Still very much a youngster! Notes of chocolate, eucalyptus, and spice. 91-92 points. (91 pts.)

1997 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz (RP 96):
Nose of blackberry and black cherry. Smooth, refined, very tasty.
2002 Torbreck The Factor - Barossa Valley
Wow, this wine is very impressive and demands attention. Rich and concentrated notes of blueberry, plum, and leather. Burst of mint on the finish. Easily the WOTF and my WOTN. 94-95 points. (94 pts.)
2002 Torbreck The Factor (RP 99):
Overtly seductive nose, polished and smooth throughout, with a very long seamless finish. Did I mention it was seductive? Mmmm-hm, I definitely heard it calling to me several times during the evening.
2002 Henry's Drive Shiraz Reserve - Padthaway
Notes of chocolate mint and black fruits, with some pepper on the finish. 92-93 points. (92 pts.)
2002 Henry’s Drive Reserve Shiraz (RP 97):
Similar to the Torbreck in structure, but lots spicier, and maybe not as overt. Plenty of dark fruit, slightly less polished in mouthfeel, with an equally long finish. Nice hints of eucalyptus, anise, and kalamata olive.
Flight #4 - Shiraz Flight #4 - Shiraz

2004 Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
Notes of black fruits, eucalyptus, and spice. 92-93 points. (92 pts.)

2004 Mitolo G.A.M. (RP 97):
Lot sof fruit here, and quite juicy (almost sweet-sour) in mouthfeel. Just a bit of a meaty/rustic edge to this wine, but the fruit just keeps pumping and carries it through the long finish. 15.0% alc.
2004 Mitolo Shiraz Savitar - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
A bit more subtle than the GAM, but still quite similar. Some cranberry on the finish. 92-93 points. (92 pts.)
2004 Mitolo Savitar (RP98):
As Paul noted, and obvious minty/citrus quality to this in the nose. As with its stablemate, lots of texture if a little edgy in mouthfeel, but what a steak of a wine! 14.1% alc.
2004 Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
Great nose! Juicy red and black fruits, with a touch of soy sauce on the finish. Nice acidity for an Aussie Shiraz. WOTF and my number 2 WOTN. (93 pts.)
2004 Two Hands Bella’s Garden (RP 94):
This seemed more forward to me than either of the Mitolo's. Fascinating notes of black pepper and some herbs compliment the huge dark fruit in the nose. Beautiful balance and finish - nicely done. 15.0% alc.
Flight #5 - Shiraz Flight #5 - Shiraz

2004 Oliverhill Shiraz Jimmy Section - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
Notes of black fruit, chocolate, and loamy earth. My WOTF. (92 pts.)

2004 Oliverhill Jimmy Section (RP 95):
Lovely jammy nose of cocoa and spice, with smooth textures and juicy acids, and a very long finish. Really nice, though I thought I detected a bit of acetone at one point.
2004 Shirvington Shiraz - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
A sweet wine with tons of brown sugar and mocha. A bit over the top, and teetering on becoming out of balance. Those who like Mollydooker The Boxer -- which I do -- will probably like this wine. In fact, I believe Parker gave both wines the same 95 point score. (91 pts.)
2004 Shirvington (RP 95):
Gorgeous nose of dark fruit, candied pecans and toasted grains. Delicious fruit, beautiful mouthfeel and long finish. If I had to find some fault here, it would be that it lacked some noticeable interest points. You know, glamorous - but I wanted to have a discussion, too.
2004 Kilikanoon Shiraz Parable - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
Earthy and slightly medicinal nose. Notes of loam and french toast. Austere finish. (90 pts.)
2004 Kilkanoon Parable (RP 96):
Huge nose of pepper-infused blackberry and herbs. I went back and forth with this wine - one minute, killer in mouthfeel; the next minute, kind of clunky. I dunno.
Flight #6 - Stickies Flight #6 - Stickies

N.V. R.L. Buller & Son Muscat Fine Muscat Victoria - Australia, Victoria
Notes of walnuts, cinammon, and dried apricots. Nice mouthfeel! My WOTF. (91 pts.)

NV R.L. Buller Fine Muscat (RP 96)
Similar wines, but I liked the muscat more. This had nice fresh fruity overtones, good mouthfeel and finish - making it seem a little less porty. 18% alc.
N.V. R.L. Buller & Son Muscat Tokay Victoria - Australia, Victoria, North East, Rutherglen
Nice floral nose! Notes of graham crackers and dried fruit. (90 pts.)
NV R.L. Buller Fine Tokay (RP 95)
The fruit here tended more to the toasted nut/brown sugar thing, very tawny-like. Very nice - and if it was the only dessert for the evening - it'd be the winner. 18% alc.

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