Site Contents | Recent Tastings | Wine Touring | Cellars | What's New

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.

High Scoring Aussie Tasting - January, 2008

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 eight vintages, giving us a nice cross-section fro the land down under. It's probably safe to say that we were looking forward to many of these, as they had been given ledgendary scores by the media. Plus, there was great hope (make that, expectation) for many of the older wines as well. The alcohol content varied from the high 14% to the high of the 15% range, fairly normal for Aussies.

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 Dehlinger Chardonnay - Russian River Valley
The most austere white of the tasting. Notes of citrus, minerals, and gravel. Lean and zesty. As Goldilocks would say, "This wine is too hard." (87 pts.)

2005 Dehlinger Chardonnay - Russian River Valley.
Very nice, especially since I tried this AFTER the Pride...that is to say the oak and butter on the Pride (which actually I do like) probably numbed my palate before getting to really tast the nuance here. Notes of lemon, lime, minerals, and a seething elegance about it.

2005 Pride Mountain Chardonnay Vintner's Select Cuvée Mountain Top Vineyard - Sonoma County
The biggest white of the tasting. Notes of grilled pineapples, ripe pears, and canned peaches. The oak has not yet been integrated into this wine and the finish is a bit hot. As Goldilocks would say, "This wine is too soft." 86-87 points. (86 pts.)
2005 Pride Mountain Chardonnay Vintner's Select Cuvée Mountain Top Vineyard - Sonoma County.
Big, maybe not the biggest, but certainly right there with the rest of the creme de California Chardonnays - buttery oak, copious amounts of tropical fruit, and the sense that ML is a come hither symbol. Actually, I like this style of Chard as well as the...oh...more restrained style of the Dehlinger.
2006 Trevor Jones Chardonnay Virgin - Barossa Valley
A very refreshing and balanced Chardonnay and my favorite white of the tasting. Notes of uncut limes, nectarines, unripe peaches, and straw. As Goldilocks would say, "This wine is just right." (89 pts.)
2006 Trevor Jones Chardonnay Virgin - Barossa, Barossa Valley.
Quite nice, with smooth texture, and almost a subtle sweetness throughout.
Flight #1 - Reds Flight #1 - Reds

1998 Fox Creek JSM Shiraz Cabernet Franc - McLaren Vale
A nice way to begin the tasting. Aromas of dark chocolate, toffee nut, anise, and a touch of balsamic vinegar is followed by dark chocolate and black plums on the palate. With more air, smoke and white pepper emerge. The finish is a bit clipped, but this is an otherwise lovely wine. (92 pts.)

1998 Fox Creek JSM Shiraz Cabernet Franc - McLaren Vale.
This one surprized me. I've tasted this on a few times previously and wasn't expecting much this time out. I was wrong. Smooth clove-laden spicy aromas aromas betray the Shiraz inside, but there is also this almost undefinable scent of roasted herb as well. Tasty on the palate, with spicy dark fruit, a surprising amount of [smooth] tannins, and nice long finish.

1999 Kilikanoon Shiraz Oracle - Clare Valley
A disappointing wine due to brett. Notes of barnyard, horse saddle, and beef blood. Eric Anderson suggested it might also be corked. Sure, why not? Might as well add some VA into the mix as well. NR (flawed)

1999 Kilikanoon Shiraz Oracle - Clare Valley.
I think this sucker was corked. With some heavy swirling (back away!) I could sense that something like TCA was present. But, how long are you going to deny that, yes, the garbage disposal smells foul and do something about it.

2001 Glaetzer Shiraz Amon-Ra Barossa Valley - Barossa Valley
A really fabulous wine! Scrumptious aromas of blueberries, blackberries, brown sugar, loam, and cinnamon stick. With time and air, raspberry and pie crust emerged -- made me think of a mixed berry Pop-Tart. On the palate, blackberries, blueberries, and red licorice. I did detect a bit of heat initially, but it had dissipated when I returned to the wine about 20 minutes later. (95 pts.)

2001 Glaetzer Shiraz Amon-Ra Barossa Valley - Barossa Valley.
Another [mini] surprise. Gorgeous refined nose of ripe seductive dark fruit. Very smooth and tasty on the palate, full rich and concentrated throughout...almost. The finish did die off a little quicker than desirable, but this was a terrific wine.

2001 Torbreck Shiraz The Factor - Barossa Valley
Double-decanted for 1 hour and kept open for another hour before serving. This was a spectacular Shiraz! Incredible depth and complexity. Aromas of blackberries, wet soil, tree bark, espresso, and red licorice. On the palate, rich and mouth-coating layers of black fruits give way to a long 30+ finish. Parker is on the money when says there is a Cote Rotie character to this wine. With time and more air, some spice and raspberry jam emerge. Without question, my WOTN. 96-97 points. (96 pts.)

2001 Torbreck Shiraz The Factor - Barossa Valley. Wow! Okay, this wine starts off attractive and just builds from there. Focused dark fruit and spice in the nose, with a spicy, rich and chewy mouthfeel and long smooth finish - despite its obvious youth. This is gonna be an exceptional wine in a few more years.

2001 Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon - McLaren Vale
I am usually not a big fan of Australian Cabernet, but I did like this one. Classic varietal notes of cassis, mint, anise, dried herbs, and loam. (89 pts.)

2001 Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon - McLaren Vale. This was the Cab version of Shervington's dymnamic duo from '01, and it was worthy. Nose of ripe cassis, bitter chocolate and toast, with the barest hint of iodine. Smooth, refined and with lovely texture on the palate. Nice stuff!

2003 Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon - McLaren Vale
I was not as fond of this one compared to the 2001. This one was earthier and kind of beefy. Seemed more like a Cab-Shiraz blend than a pure Cab. Some licorice and spice added interest. (87 pts.)

2003 Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon - McLaren Vale. After tasting the '01, I could easily see that this was just a younger version of the same wine. Seems a little bigger right now, but I would imagine this will be just as lovely in a couple of years, as the '01 was tonight.

2002 Gibson's BarossaVale Wines Shiraz - Barossa
I found this shiraz to be a bit more subtle and more delicate compared to the others at the tasting. Pleasing aromas of eucalyptus, dark chocolate and black plums are followed by a balanced mix of red and black fruits. An elegant wine and quite food friendly. 90-91 points. (90 pts.)

2002 Gibson's Shiraz - Barossa.
Beautiful spicy dark fruit, with an interest hint of mint. A bit astringent in mouthfeel, with chocolate-infused dark berry fruit, excellent balance and very long finish. Very, very nice!

2002 Henry's Drive Shiraz Reserve - Limestone Coast, Padthaway
Looking back on my previous note on this wine, I have to conclude that this wine was heat damaged -- perhaps not severely, but enough to consider it flawed. Notes of York Peppermint Patties, hoisin sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Both Eric Anderson and I commented that it tasted a rather "stewy." Quite a shame too, because I had given this wine 92-93 points the last time I tasted it. NR (flawed)

2002 Henry's Drive Shiraz Reserve - Limestone Coast, Padthaway.
Fascinating nose of herbs, toast and stewed fruits, in addition to a distinct Cote Rotie roasted quality. It tasted a bit more fruit-driven than it smelled, nevertheless, this didn't seem like what ought to be in the bottle - and yet, there it was. Flawed? Probably. But, I could concoct a story to go with this wine. Imagine the winery got to the end of bottling run and needed something top off the last bottle. "Hey, how about this Cab Franc," Mick probably said, and Viola (to mix metaphors)!

2002 Marquis Philips Shiraz Integrity - McLaren Vale
What a shame to be drinking this wine at this juncture, for I think it has the potential to live up to the Parker score in about 5 more years. At this point, I think it is only showing a fraction of its greatness. That said, I'm really glad I got to try it -- thanks Ed! Sumptuous notes of brown sugar, aged balsamic vinegar, espresso, tons of black fruits, and a dash of white pepper on the finish. Powerful yet elegant. A complete wine. 95-96 points. (95 pts.)

2002 Marquis Philips Shiraz Integrity - McLaren Vale. Gorgeous nose of dark fruit, spice and toast. This is obviously infanticide, but what a beautifully textured mouthfeel. Lots of seamlessly woven fruit, spice and undefinable components seem made for each other. Delicious!

2003 Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon The Menzies - Limestone Coast, Coonawarra
Notes of balsam wood, black and red currants, sweet tobacco, and dried herbs. Acidity a bit on the high side. (88 pts.)

2003 Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon The Menzies - Limestone Coast, Coonawarra.
Nice roasted herb quality to the cassis nose. Bitter chocolate and toast seem to be taking the front seat here, with the fruit doing the backseat driving. A slight bitterness creeps up in the otherwise long finish.

2003 Oliverhill Winery Shiraz Jimmy Section - McLaren Vale
Notes of dark cherry, blackberry, white pepper, and soy. An very good shiraz for the money. (91 pts.)

2003 Oliverhill Winery Shiraz Jimmy Section - McLaren Vale.
Lovely nose of dark fruit, glove leather, and A-1 sauce spices. Terrifically integrated mouthfeel, with the fruit, acids, and background notes all being in harmony.

2004 Binder Mitchell Shiraz Gunslingers - Barossa Valley
I was pleasantly surprised by this wine as I had never heard of it until this tasting. Aromas of eucalyptus and ripe blackberries give way to black plums, blackberries, and spice on the palate. Nice acidity and a real joy to drink. (91 pts.)

2004 Binder Mitchell Shiraz Gunslingers - Barossa Valley.
Nose of spicy dark berry, with almost a dried sage component and a bit of licorice. Smooth and nicely ripened fruit seems almost understated...but nice.

2004 Kilikanoon Shiraz Covenant - Clare Valley
Ripe notes of eucalyptus, dark cherry, and black raspberry. Rich attack and mid-palate, but a very clipped finish. 89-90 points. (89 pts.)

2004 Kilikanoon Shiraz Covenant - Clare Valley. Obviously fruit-driven nose, with a dense mouthfeel of blackberry and toasted herb.

2004 Schild Estate Shiraz Barossa Valley - Barossa Valley
Harvey Steiman is the man! He called this wine and even though I would not go so far as to give it 96 points, it is nonetheless an outstanding shiraz -- and for $25 quite a steal! Sumptuous notes of brown sugar, toffee nut, dark chocolate, and plum jam. Wonderfully rich and full on the palate. 93-94 points. (93 pts.)

2004 Schild Estate Shiraz Barossa Valley - Barossa Valley.
Very nice throughout, but the wine seemed not to know what it wanted to be. There was a youthful quality in the nose, but it seemed more mature on the palate.

2004 The Colonial Estate Emigré - Barossa Valley
A very sumptuous wine. Exotic aromas of eucalyptus, loam, plum, black raspberry, and teriyaki sauce. On the palate, brown sugar and sweet dark fruits. However, in spite of its richness, I feel this wine was marred by a lack of acidity -- too flabby for my tastes. A very tasty wine nonetheless. (90 pts.)

2004 The Colonial Estate Emigré - Barossa Valley.
Ripe and rich in both nose and mouth, this seemed a bit plodding to me. The spiciness didn't seem to cut through to balance the fruit, and the fruit itself didn't seem to distinguish itself. Maybe just too young right now.

2005 Glaetzer Shiraz Amon-Ra Barossa Valley - Barossa Valley
This wine is clearly a child, but what a precocious child it is! Notes of black raspberry, plum, wet soil, and vanilla. Plush and creamy in the mouth and a 30+ second finish. This wine needs several more years in the cellar, but I think it is destined for greatness. 94-95 points. (94 pts.)

2005 Glaetzer Shiraz Amon-Ra Barossa Valley - Barossa Valley.
Beautifully melded nose of fruit and spice, Glaetzer obviously has this down pat. This is a beautifully made wine that has it all. I can't imagine how this could be any better.

2005 Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. - McLaren Vale
I'm kind of bummed by this wine because I actually have quite a bit of it in my cellar. Reductive aromas followed by black raspberry and black cherry on the palate. Very drinkable, but with the wealth of wines at this tasting, just not interesting enough to keep my attention. (88 pts.)

2005 Mitolo Shiraz G.A.M. - McLaren Vale.
Unfortuantely, it was this wine's unenviable task to follow the Amon-Ra, and it suffered by comparison. Seemingly well-made, it nevertheless flat by comparison.

2006 Mitolo Shiraz Savitar - McLaren Vale
Very good showing for such a young wine. Aromas of Red Vines, blackberries, and earth are followed by grilled meat and red currants on the palate. Interesting wine; I just wish I had been able to spend more time with it. 90-91 points. (90 pts.)

2006 Mitolo Shiraz Savitar - McLaren Vale.
Nice beef jerky component to the black fruit. A slightly Cote Rotie quality of charred manzanita made it even nicer. Big and chewy, this Mitolo made up for the GAM's shortcomings.
2005 d'Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm - McLaren Vale
This wine was ridiculously tight. Notes of graphite, wet loam, cassis, and blueberry. Intense and very structured. Needs years. (90 pts.)
2005 d'Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm - McLaren Vale. I couldn't warm up to this wine. A bit weedy/herbal in nose, all of the tar/asphalt/licorice components were hiding somewhere,leaving me with a the feeling that I'd missed my turnoff.
2006 Mollydooker Shiraz Carnival of Love - McLaren Vale
More love for the Carnival of Love. Aromas of dark chocolate, brown sugar, and molasses give way to a rich and creamy palate of blackberries, sweet licorice, and vanilla. Long finish. Really wonderful juice! 93-94 points. (93 pts.)

2006 Mollydooker Shiraz Carnival of Love - McLaren Vale.
Where is the love? Right here! Teriffic nose of charcuterie, tar and blackberry, with some fascinating brown spices and hint of herbs. Full, rich, and plush in mouthfeel, this was firing on all 12 cylinders. As The Band said, Life is a Carnival.

Site Contents | Top of page | Recent Tastings

Copyright © 2007-2008, Paul Lin & Eric Anderson - All rights reserved
No original material may be reproduced without written consent
Mail & Comments
- Grape-Nutz