Syrah - Shiraz
Notes and impressions from a Syrah/Shiraz tasting - Saturday, June 3, 2000, at the Wine Exchange in Orange, CA. Eighteen wines were poured for a tasting fee of $23.
The wines, in the order tasted:
1998 Chateau Grande Cassagne Cuvee Hippolyte. $11.99. Dark
ruby garnet color. Dense, jammy and floral nose, with notes of blackberry,
and shoe polish wax. Cool off-sweet fruit and mouthfeel. Toasty oak and
somewhat chalky tannins last through slightly bitter finish.
1997 Domaine Clavel La Copa Santa . $14.99. Medium ruby
garnet color. Gamey, leathery and herbaceous nose, with blackberry and
blueberry fruit, hardwoods, and stemmy violet-like floral notes. Slightly
sweet and toasty blackberry/raspberry fruit, medium body and mouthfeel,
1998 Domaine du Pavillion-Mercurol Crozes Hermitage. $15.99. Medium
violet ruby color. Effusive floral aromas with stemmy and fruity background
notes. Slightly sweet-sour mouthfeel, medium-full body, smooth long finish.
1998 Bernard Bergaud Cote Rotie. $26.99. Medium dark violet ruby
color. Slightly restrained nose of stems, floral notes, leather, toast,
and sweet-smelling sawdust. Off-sweet mouthfeel, mouth-filling blueberry/blackberry
fruit that seems just a tad tart, very long finish.
1997 Cave de Tain L' Hermitage. $29.99. Medium dark ruby/rose
color. Huge, dense, complex melange of berries, fruit, toast, rose petal,
and a hint of stems. Slightly sweet fruit, chewy mouthfeel, smooth texture
and taste that lasts through long toasty finish.
1996 Verset Cornas. $26.99. Medium dark ruby garnet color. Herbaceous
nose of blueberry, stems, and cardboard, with a very gamey and floral
quality. Tart-sour blueberry/blackberry fruit, medium mouthfeel, the fruit
falls off quickly, leaving the acids to carry it through a medium-long
1997 Saxenburg Shiraz Private Collection - Stellenbosch. $19.99.
Dark ruby violet color. Nose of off-sweet fruit, toast, vinyl, and Dirty
diapers! Off-sweet mouthfeel, slightly under-ripe fruit, good concentration,
long toasty finish. I suppose "barnyard" may be a more apt description
of some of this wine's nuances, but dirty diapers says it best. Makes
me wonder what the Regular Collection is like.
1998 Kevin Arnold Shiraz - Stellenbosch. $24.99. Medium dark ruby
rose color. Somewhat herbaceous and stemmy nose, with aromas of newsprint,
toast, beet, and chocolate mocha. Off-sweet toasty fruit, smooth long
finish. Slightly more interesting in the nose, than it is in the mouth.
1998 Jaffurs Syrah - Santa Barbara County. $22.99. Medium
dark ruby violet color. Sweet blueberry/blackberry nose, with floral and
beet notes. Sweet mouthfeel, seems easy feeling on the palate, but also
thick, rich and chewy. Long toasty fruity finish. Fruit, though satisfying,
seems a bit under ripe.
1996 Terre Rouge Syrah - Sentinental Oak Vnyd, Pyramid Block, Amador
County. $23.99. Medium dark ruby rose color. Sweet toasty blackberry
and spices, with hint of stems. Slightly coarse and young-tasting mouthfeel,
with good body, slightly tart fruit, and smooth finish.
1997 Selby Syrah - Sonoma County. $21.99. Medium ruby rose color.
Slightly stemmy and toasty fruit, with floral notes, spice, smoked woods,
tar and a hint of game. Sweet, medium-full body, though slightly thin
on fruit. A satisfying complex quaffer.
1998 Neyers Syrah - Hudson Vnyd, Napa Valley. $49.99. Dark
ruby violet color. Very dense and integrated nose of blackberry, toast
and ink, with floral and stemmy notes. Gobs of thick, chewy off-sweet
fruit. Very long fruity and toasty finish, with lots of sweet blueberry
and blackberry flavors.
1998 Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz - Barossa Valley. $9.99. Medium
dark ruby violet color. Nose of blackberry, stems, shoe polish, vanilla,
with herbaceous and floral notes. Off-sweet peppery mouthfeel, with moderate
fruit, and an oaky but fruity finish. Somewhat less sweet and ripe than
most Aussies, but it isn't priced like most Aussies either.
1998 Plantagenet Shiraz Omrah - (53% West.Aus; 47% McLaren
Vale). $13.99. Dark ruby garnet color. Nose of very ripe burnished
aromas of blackberry jam, toast and vanilla. Starts to approach Porty
in its ripeness, but not unduly so. Definite less-than-ripe quality to
the blueberry fruit, with a toasty herbaceous and peppery finish. Minor
letdown on the palate, given the very interesting nose.
1997 Majella Shiraz - Coonawara. $24.99. Dark ruby color. Dense
nose of toasty sweet blackberry fruit, with vanilla and spice notes. Beautiful!
Big and toasty mouthfeel of spiced blueberry/blackberry fruit, and very
long fruit-filled finish.
1998 Clos Clare Shiraz - Clare Valley. $27.99. Dark ruby color.
Full and dense nose of toasty ripe burnished blackberry. Fleshy mouthfeel
of tasty, toasty blackberry/blueberry fruit, with a long toasty and fruity
finish. Nice stuff - did I mention it's toasty?
1996 Thalgara Shiraz Show Reserve - Hunter Valley. $36.99.
Dark ruby garnet color. Toasty , smoky raspberry/blackberry fruit, that
is ripe and slightly burnished in smell. Raspberry and blackberry flavors
at entry, with lots of blackberry and and a bit of plum in the latter
palate and long finish.
1997 Glaetzer Shiraz - Barossa Valley. $49.99. Dark ruby violet
color. Herbaceous fruit, with aromas of rubber, cardboard, newsprint,
ink, toast and brown sugar. Toasty blueberry flavors, good body, smooth
and a bit less in-your-face than most Aussies. Excellent balance, and
very long toasty and fruity finish.
Overall impressions: there are still a lot of good Aussie wines out there - and it's beginning to look like an endless supply. Several in this tasting were very good, enough to comprise 4 of my top 5 favorites in the flight. The Neyers Hudson was about the only thing to give them a run for their money. The Jaffurs show very nicely, for a non-vnyd bottling. And, the Selby was nice, but was just overcome by the much bigger and fruitier wines.
There were two South African wines in the flight, both of which show
promise for the appellation. However, neither were "contenders," and from
a price standpoint, still have a long way to go to deliver anything worth
a second look.
Here is my relative ranking, by tier and in order of preference,of the wines tasted.
1997 Glaetzer Shiraz - Barossa Valley. $49.99.
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