A departure from our previous tastings, this one was guest hosted by a real sommelier. The theme for the night was Aussie Shiraz, as chosen by the sommelier (except for one wine that was generously donated by a couple returning from Oz). In addition to the tasting, our sommelier was kind enough to give us some instruction, and carefully selected a variety of unheralded wines from different Oz regions. Here are the results:
First Place - 2001 McWilliam's Shiraz, Coonawarra
On the nose I described this wine as subtle and restrained, a wine that smelled like it had more age than the others. Tasty and well balanced, nine out of eleven tasters ranked it first or second. A very reasonable price of C$30.
Second Place - 2002 Jeanneret Shiraz 'Denis', Clare Valley
Very different, very interesting. Scents of truffle, mint, dark fruit. I almost thought it was a Cabernet. Well balanced despite the high (15%) alcohol. A lot of high scores, with six tasters rating it first or second. In my mind, this was the most memorable. I recently had a chance to taste the Jeanneret Grenache at a restaurant in Toronto, and the quality was also very high. An up and coming winery to watch?
Third Place - 2002 KilliBinBin Shiraz, Longhorne Creek
I thought this wine had a lovely smell - oak, butter, mint, coffee - and velvety tannins. Very representative of Aussie Shiraz, but the alcohol seemed to dominate on the nose and the tongue. Also note that this was the most expensive bottle at C$42.
Fourth Place - 2002 Brokenwood Shiraz, S.E. Australia
A very interesting nose for an inexpensive wine - oaky, blueberry, raspberry, buttery, mint? Unfortunately, this wine was lighter bodied than the others, and very light for a Shiraz. A decent value at C$24?
Fifth Place - 2002 Graham Beck "The Joshua", S. Africa
A South African surprise - a Shiraz with a touch of Viognier. I described this as very tannic, 'hot', and bitter - surprising, as I would have thought the Viognier would soften it up. C$30.
Sixth Place - 2003 Voyager Estate Shiraz, Margaret River
This western Australian Shiraz was brought back from Australia and generously shared with the group. I described this as having very interesting spice aromas on the nose, but I thought the wine was thin and diluted. A$30, if you can find it.
Note that our host also shared an inexpensive Argentinian Shiraz , the 2001 Gentile Collins Prestigio, at the end of the night. This was not an enjoyable wine, and was very atypical of Shiraz.