Circus by L'Ostal Cazes 2003 Shiraz/Cabernet ($12.99)
The bold, colorful and simplified label puts the producer's familiar name and the marketing concept up front, with the wine-geek details (Vin de Pays d'Oc) in small print on the back; and the Australian varietal name "Shiraz" in place of the French "Syrah" suggests a wine made in a fat, fruit-forward crowd-pleasing style. But there's still a mid-Atlantic hint of the Old World in the wine's complex aroma and relatively full structure. Inky dark reddish-purple in color, it offers fresh and relatively subtle aromas of black plums and fragrant black pepper. Black-fruit flavors are mouth-filling and ripe, smooth and easy to sip, but there's plenty of fresh-fruit acidity to provide structure and balance. (Also tasted, the Circus 2003 Shiraz for the same price was similar but a bit more sweet and plushy; the firm's grand vin, L'Ostal Cazes 2002 Minervois la Lavinière ($29.99), featured in the Wine Advisor Premium Edition on Feb. 22, 2005, is a memorable wine of outstanding quality-price ratio.) US Importer: Palm Bay Imports Inc., Boca Raton, Fla. (Feb 16, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: A classic red-meat wine, it was fine with a grass-fed Kentucky Green River rare ribeye.



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