2004 Evans & Tate Unwooded Chardonnay Underground Series

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Scott Street Portfolio

What They Said:

Per sfgate.com “Evans & Tate is based in the picturesque sub-appellation of Margaret River, which with its cool maritime-influenced climate is similar to Bordeaux. One of the region’s well-known producers, Evans & Tate recently launched the Underground Series line of wines. Grapes for the series come not only from Margaret River, but also the larger wine region of Western Australia.

A common sight in Australia, unwooded or unoaked Chardonnays are becoming popular here. Since no oak barrels were used, this zesty white is packed with melon and green apple fruitiness. As the Aussies would say, both are ideal “verandah wines” for sipping al fresco.

Try this lively, elegant, perfumed, light-to-medium-bodied Chardonnay offering fine tropical, lime, and pear fruit with an fine mineral component and a refreshing balance. Long and clean, it develops nicely in the glass.Fine. Bear’s Score: 88 points.”

What I Think:

While in Australia I we tried a few good unwooded chards that made me think that this might be my answer.  This one wasn’t quite what I was after.  The fruit up front wasn’t up to par and more importantly the mineral flavors on the backend quickly leaving you with a cold tongue.  I’ll thought about rating this 12th bottle just because TJ’s doesn’t have any other unwooded options but I don’t really want to see this in my house again.

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

2005 Penfolds Koonunga Hill

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the winery “Koonunga Hill, a multi-district blend based on Barossa, McLaren Vale and Coonawarra fruit, has become a Penfolds classic with a reputation for over-delivery of quality at its pricepoint.

Winemakers seek to maintain its style, weight and concentration each year, regardless of vintage conditions. Shiraz usually leads the wine, varying from 50% to 65+% of the blend.”

What I Think:

While in Australia has a great Shiraz Cab blend from the Burra area so I thought I would try a few more. This blend is of 72% Shiraz and 28% Cabernet. This bottling is usually quite near a 50/50 blend. This wine wasn’t very impressive. A few more of these and I will cross these off the lists of things to explore further. Based on the Penfold’s website maybe this was an off year with the 70%+ Shiraz in this varietal. I certainly won’t buy along these ratios again.

Rating: Skip It (though going lower was on my mind)

2005 Oxford Landing GSM

Price: $7.99 @ BevMo imported by Negociants Napa

What They Said:

Per BevMo “The 2005 Oxford Landing GSM possesses herbal, peppery, red cherry, spice, and earthy notes, light tannin, and ripe, round fruit. Drink it over the next 12-18 months.”

What I Think:

This is a wine that we had while traveling through Australia a few months ago.  I enjoyed it there and have enjoyed it again here.  This wine made me keen to try more of the Aussie blends.  Generally blends outside of France were on my list of things to avoid.  As an aside this wine cost more in Australia than in the US.  In Australia they have a wet tax of 25% added to the cost of all alcohol.  This blend was 56% Grenache 33% Shiraz and 11% Mourvedre.  Put this one on the 5c sale and I’ll grab a case.

Rating: Buy It (this one borders on Bulk Buy for me)