2003 Rosemount Shiraz Hill of Gold

Price: $9.02 @ BevMo imported by PWG Vinters USA (retails at $17.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per the winery “To the eye, vibrant crimson with ruby hues. To the nose, aromas of liquorice, thyme and herbs lead to a sweet lift of vanilla oak, mocha and plums. On the palate, mocha and plum aromas follow from the nose onto an inky palate redolent of spicy fruit and pepper. A fresh, vibrant and youthful wine with well integrated tannins and an elegant finish.”

What I Think:

This one was nicer than I remembered from my last go round. Perhaps my inclination that it needed a bit more time to settle down was proving correct. This bottle showed mint & licorice on the nose. The palate showed some chocolate flavoring though the finish was fast and tannic. All in all seemed a bit light for a Shiraz, in my opinion you are better off trying something else. I would look for this Yalumba “Y” Series as a potential alternative.

Rating: Skip It

2005 Razors Edge Shiraz McLaren Vale

Price: $7.99 @ The Wine Club imported by Joshua Tree Imports

What They Said:

Per The Wine Club “This has an impressive McLaren Vale appellation and the quality of fruit shows it as well. This bottling goes to show you how competitive things have gotten and how much really good juice is out there ”” a great thing for the punter. The nose is lifted and pretty complex considering its price, with notes of black plums, blackberries, spice, licorice, loam and dusty chocolate. The palate is fuller bodied, supple textured, with good fruit purity offering juicy, spiced, dark fruit flavors backed with ripe, almost powdery tannins and a tinge of chocolate richness on the finish. Upfront and forward this still has the structure for short term aging, but at this price and flavor profile, who would want to wait? This has value written all over it!

The Wine Spectator Bright and appealing for its clarity of plum and blackberry flavors, persisting on the finish against firm tannins. Best after 2007. 15,000 cases imported. Score: 87. —Harvey Steiman, December 15, 2005.

The Wine Advocate This dark ruby/purple-colored, compact, straightforward, simple 2004 Shiraz exhibits sweet blackberry fruit, medium body, and a pleasant finish. Drink it over the next 2-3 years. Score: 86. —Robert Parker, October 2005.”

What I Think:

Hmm, must have been impressive marketing around this one at The Wine Club. I was surprised to see the scores above based on my short term memory. Perhaps it is a by product of them having the best of the best available from Australia. Of course for that you have to open your wallet a lot further than this. Thinking back to my all time favorite Aussie wine for $8 bucks on once bought a case of the d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Red from Cost Plus. Interestingly the two I have posted here are also blends, the Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red and the Oxford Landing GSM. But I digress…

Back to the matter at hand, the notes on this offering are sparse but fair to say the product wasn’t compelling me to pick the pen up. All in all what I tend to refer to as a ho-hum effort. It was nice to have a glass of wine this evening, but beyond that not much compelling about the experience. From the notes we got a bit of barnyard on the nose. On the palate the wine had fruit as expected but was also hot and likely high on the alcohol side (forgot to check) which lead to more tannins on the finish than I care for. Not a bad wine, just not a compelling one. At this price point I’m buying some of the wines mentioned above.

Rating: Skip It

2004 Grant Burge Barossa Vines Shiraz

Price: $7.52 @ BevMo imported by Wilson Daniels (retails at $14.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per Wine Spectator “Ripe in flavor, but not too hearty, achieving a nice balance of focused plum and berry fruit against fine tannins and not too much alcohol. Drink now through 2009. 7,500 cases imported.” – Harvey Steiman, May 01, 2006 (87 point, $14)

What I Think:

This is one of my last bottles from the 5c sale at BevMo. I had the other bottle quite some time ago and have viewed this one with some trepidation ever since. I think I referred to the first bottle as ho-hum.

With pizza on the menu Shiraz wouldn’t be my choice but my wife was picking the wine tonight, in hindsight the pairing wasn’t an issue. On the nose there were plumy aromas with a dollop of mint. The palate was full of fruit before the mint kicked in and led to a tannic finish. The wine did turn a bit green in the mid-palate which was somewhat unpleasant. This was better then remembered but at the end of the day it didn’t cause you to raise an eyebrow so I am afraid the ho-hum label remains. Get it if you think you have an inclination for liking this, whatever your reason. Otherwise pass and give something else a try.

Rating: Skip It

2003 Echelon Central Coast Shiraz

Price: $6.52 @ BevMo (retails at $12.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per the winery “The grapes for our Echelon 2003 Shiraz were carefully harvested at night to preserve the freshness of the fruit. After destemming, the fruit was fermented for 9 days in stainless steel, followed by 12 days of skin contact. The wine was racked three times before being transferred into small oak barrels, where it was aged for 12 months, then filtered and bottled.

Our 2003 Shiraz is medium garnet in color, with luscious aromas of dark cherry, blueberries, jam and oak. The wine is medium- to full-bodied, with big, soft tannins on the palate; and mouthfilling, with a long, luscious finish. It is a ripe, deep wine that is very enjoyable upon release, but will also cellar well for several years. Pair it with pizza, pasta and red meats.”

What I Think:

Talk about luck of the draw in a bad way, I opened this bottle because I was enjoying the Holbrook to much and wanted to savor it a few more days. Since I still had the urge for another glass I pulled the cork on this one….

Given that we should probably take this with a grain of salt but again I was not impressed. Had some fruit on the nose and at the front of the palate but as we got towards the middle the tannins were fighting through leaving a bitter taste leading to an almost tart finish. To top it off it had a little bit of the mass produced for mass consumption manufactured taste making it seem void of any varietal characteristics. I still haven’t really recovered from the fact that I thought I was buying Syrah here so perhaps it is the Shiraz factor. I am guessing there is a good reason we don’t grow/make it here. I wish I could remember what Echelon bottlings I have had in the past because I do remember them being better. I may give them another try but it certainly won’t be this Shiraz.

Rating: Skip It

2004 Yalumba “Y” Series Shiraz Viognier

Price: $13.99 @ BevMo imported by Negociants Napa

What They Said:

Per the winery “Good Spring rains were followed by the usual dry Summer, but an unexpectedly cool January was perfect for the vines to ripen and maintain healthy canopies. This cool period led to the grapes in most regions maintaining excellent natural acid levels and very deep rich colours. A long, cool Autumn also meant that each parcel of fruit would be harvested at its optimum flavour development. February and March were quite dry and balmy with cool nights and warm days, ideal conditions for the development of both Shiraz and Viognier flavours.

Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier 2004 showcases the distinct varietal characters of these two grape varieties, co-fermented to capture their synergy.

This wine is medium to deep crimson purple in colour with a very attractive nose showing warmer aromatics of heady ripe berry fruits. The Viognier lends fragrant notes of apricot blossom and musk. The palate is very approachable, with ripe raspberry and ju-jube-like flavours, quite plush and smooth finishing with a long velvety texture.”

What I Think:

We had this one in Australia and found it to be quite a good wine. I think this price seems a bit high as I remembered paying 10ASD or about $8 there. Just checked and the 2005 (the vintage we had down under) appears to be available pretty widely for $10. By the way, all the Australian wineries seem to have these cool tasting notes don’t they! For almost all the Aussie wines I get the have nice downloadable pdfs with the wine information.

We tried to pair this one with pasta and it just couldn’t handle the acidity. Perhaps this was common knowledge but I thought all big wines could stand up to just about anything. Now I know they need to be big on tannins, not big on fruit! So I gave it a pass for that error on my part. The next night we tried with chicken fajitas and again had the same result here. So what did we learn? The important lesson here is that Shiraz should not be on the table unless you see a cut of meat. Since that wasn’t to be on the menu this week I tried some on it’s own to much better results. This wine looks super dark in the glass and shows all dark fruit on the nose, much as I tried to find any hint of the Viognier it subtleness was too much for me to identify. In the mouth it has a rich, supple feel that led to some dark forward fruit. In the mid-palate I was surprised that I could actually sense the ju-jube flavors mentioned in the wineries notes. The finish is where I seemed to notice the blend the most as it was much smoother than I would have anticipated. All in all this turned out to be a moderate effort. It certainly didn’t match the nostalgia that I had hoped to reclaim and the 2004 won’t find its way to my house again. On the other hand I do anticipate with a bottle of the 2005 ($9.99 at BevMo) meeting a steak on my table sometime soon as we will once again try to relive the memories from our long lost vacation.

Rating: Pricey

2003 Echelon Central Coast Shiraz

Price: $6.52 @ BevMo (retails at $12.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per the winery “The grapes for our Echelon 2003 Shiraz were carefully harvested at night to preserve the freshness of the fruit. After destemming, the fruit was fermented for 9 days in stainless steel, followed by 12 days of skin contact. The wine was racked three times before being transferred into small oak barrels, where it was aged for 12 months, then filtered and bottled.

Our 2003 Shiraz is medium garnet in color, with luscious aromas of dark cherry, blueberries, jam and oak. The wine is medium- to full-bodied, with big, soft tannins on the palate; and mouthfilling, with a long, luscious finish. It is a ripe, deep wine that is very enjoyable upon release, but will also cellar well for several years. Pair it with pizza, pasta and red meats.”

What I Think:

Not that I know him or have done any analytics around this but when Wilfred Wong, of BevMo, rated this as low as 86 I should have sensed trouble. I think he likes wine even more than I do.  Couple that with the fact that when I was opening it I thought it was Syrah and the grounds were definitely set for getting off on the wrong foot. This wine lacked anything distinguishing. What I mean by these wines is that there is usually a short fruit blast before it fades to tannins or flavors closely resembling them. As I still have another bottle of this one I (5c sale) I am hoping for a surprise next time around. As this is the first bad experience I have had with Echelon wines and even on to Chalone wines I’ll remain optimistic until then.

Rating: Skip It

2003 Rosemount Shiraz Hill of Gold

Price: $9.02 @ BevMo imported by PWG Vinters USA (retails at $17.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per the winery “To the eye, vibrant crimson with ruby hues. To the nose, aromas of liquorice, thyme and herbs lead to a sweet lift of vanilla oak, mocha and plums. On the palate, mocha and plum aromas follow from the nose onto an inky palate redolent of spicy fruit and pepper. A fresh, vibrant and youthful wine with well integrated tannins and an elegant finish.”

What I Think:

This wine didn’t start well, very closed on the nose. Where’s the fruit? Perhaps herbs as mentioned above but I’m not finding the “sweet lift”. On the tongue…again nothing compelling, does it need more time. Must I lay this one down for a while? All I am getting is sour, tart fruit that I would call cherry with loads of white pepper to finish. After a night on the counter the fruit started to come forward but quickly becomes tart in the mouth. I am thinking about making it a rule to open all wines a minimum of an hour before drinking. I had this with pasta, they recommended otherwise. Still another bottle of this as it was from the 5c sale. Next time I will try to stick to where it is “ideally suited”. Til then drink this wine carefully.

Rating: Skip It

2004 Grant Burge Barossa Vines Shiraz

Price: $7.52 @ BevMo imported by Wilson Daniels (retails at $14.99 a bottle)

What They Said:

Per Wine Spectator “Ripe in flavor, but not too hearty, achieving a nice balance of focused plum and berry fruit against fine tannins and not too much alcohol. Drink now through 2009. 7,500 cases imported.” – Harvey Steiman, May 01, 2006 (87 point, $14)

What I Think:

Another from the 5c sale. After having a few of their wines recently while down under I was hoping for a bit more. Wine Spectator gave the 2002 vintage a 90-94 point score but I don’t see this as anywhere near that. I would certainly disagree with the assessment of explosive. This is a ho-hum effort. Drinkable but not memorable, thank goodness I didn’t pay full price. Will try it again with the 2nd bottle soon.

Rating: Skip It