MoCool Saturday - Australian Shiraz presentation
Ray and Eleanor Heald
Wine educators Ray and Eleanor Heald presented an informative Shiraz tasting and discussion.
Ray and Eleanor Heald, well-known and respected wine educators in the Ann Arbor and Detroit area, won the applause of a sizable crowd of MoCool participants for their Saturday morning presentation on Australian Shiraz.

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)

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All my wine-tasting reports are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores.

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