Pouring eight excellent wines for discussion, the Healds talked about the history of Shiraz (the Australian name for the French Syrah, a grape likely brought back to France from the Middle East by 13th Century Crusaders) and about its style and tradition in Australia and how it varies from cool-climate regions like Barossa to cooler climates such as Coonawarra. They also showed slides of their visit to the Adelaide region.
The presentation was a worthy addition to MoCool, and was particularly helpful in setting a conceptual framework for the many Australian wines to be tasted at that afternoon's picnic.
First flight: Hunter and Coonawarra
Hope Estate 1998 Hunter Valley Shiraz ($12) - Inky dark reddish-purple. Blackberry jam and fragrant pepper, balsamic, conifer notes. Sweet oak and grapey fruit with flowery pepper in a long, lemony-tart finish.
Penfolds 1996 Coonawarra Bin 128 Shiraz ($19) - Slightly hazy dark garnet, almost black. Faint aroma, earthy black fruit. Full flavors follow the nose, structured and balanced.
Second flight: Clare and Barossa
Kilikanoon 1998 Clare Valley Oracle Shiraz ($33) - Blackish-purple, opaque. Plummy black fruit and whiffs of licorice and leather. Tart fruit, unexpectedly piercing acidity. Awkward, unbalanced. Unimpressive.
St. Hallett 1995 Barossa Old Block Shiraz ($35) - Very dark garnet. Ripe mixed-berry fruit on the nose and palate, subtle pepper in the finish.
Third flight: McLaren Vale and Victoria
Rosemount Estate 1997 McLaren Vale Balmoral Syrah ($40) - Very dark ruby, black at the center. Black fruit, caramel, wood. Sweet oak and juicy fruit, seems off-dry.
Mitchelton 1996 Victoria "Print" Shiraz ($45) - Inky dark garnet. Delicious, ripe raspberry aromas, surely some Grenache in the blend, a touch of mint. Ripe and appetizing fruit, well-balanced and full. Most appealing wine thus far.
Fourth flight: Brown-bagged
Blind Pair "A" - Inky garnet. Spicy, minty, dank, slight sherry-oxidized note. Cooked? David Traeger 1997 Victoria Shiraz ($28)
Blind Pair "B" - Very dark reddish-purple. Black fruit, anise, berry. Fragrant pepper and plummy fruit. Tannic, hot. D'Arenberg "The Footbolt" 1998 McLaren Vale Shiraz ($18)
E-mail me your tasting notes,
and I'll consider adding them to this page.