The new millennium has been kind to New World wines, especially those from Australia. Aussie imports into the U.S. are second only to Italian wines in volume. This is not surprising, as Australia keeps producing big, juicy, and fruit-forward Shiraz and Cabernets that Americans love to drink. What's more, Australian wines come at fairly low prices in comparison with wines from other areas such as California or Bordeaux.
Australian wines have also been attracting a lot of attention from wine critics like Robert Parker. The 2001 and 2002 vintages were phenomenal and much lauded. The 2003 vintage was less celebrated, but still offers a number of impressive wines; and now the 2004 vintage is proving to be extraordinary!
2002 Australian Domain Shiraz "Alliance"
A delicious, extraordinary value we were blown away by when we tried it. Lush, big, and juicy, with a ripe berry bouquet and a long, almost sweet finish, this indomitable effort dwarfs many wines twice its price!
2003 Cascabel Shiraz "Fleurieu"
More of a European influenced Syrah rather than an Australian Shiraz, this is a rare subdued beauty that reveals more of a bouquet of delicate violet and whiteflower notes, with fruits of cassis, black cherries, and a gorgeous, if not tight, finish. "Boasting extraordinary elegance and complexity as well as an opulent, multi-layered palate, good acidity, and a ripe-heady finish, this beauty could be drunk now and over the next 7-8 years." óWA 91.
2004 Craneford Cabernet Sauvignon
This big super-Bordeaux blend (made from 93 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 7 percent Merlot and aged in primarily new French oak) "offers superb flavor purity as well as delineation. Its dense purple color is followed by sweet scents of crŤme de cassis and licorice...with no hard edges, it should age for a decade..." óWA 91.
2004 De Lisio Proprietary Red "Quarterback"
Who says that you cannot enjoy a Quarterback now that football season is over? This blend of equal parts Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon spent twelve months in American and French oak. Offering "a dense ruby/purple color along with terrific fruit intensity, excellent purity, and notions of licorice, pain grille, and spice box. Plump and opulent, it is best consumed during the first 6-7 years of its life." óWA 91
2004 Glaetzer Shiraz "The Bishop"
Aged uniquely in small barrels and hogsheads, this Shiraz is made from the younger vines from Ben Glaetzer's vineyards (40-80 years old). "A spicy, peppery, earthy, cherry, blackberry, and licorice-scented bouquet is turbo-charged, soaring from the glass. this full-bodied, savory, heady rich wine boasts impressive balance, concentration,and overall mouthfeel." óWA 91-94
2004 Kaesler Shiraz "Stonehorse"
Aged in a combination of French and American Oak barrels, this wine, made from 100 percent Shiraz, "exhibits as big, sweet nose of blackberries, cassis, pepper, and spicy oak. Its opulent, richly fruity, well-balanced style suggests it will drink well for 10-15 years." óWA 93.
2003 Kilikanoon Grenache "Prodigal"
What a find here courtesy of Kevin Mitchell, winemaker for Kilikanoon! He has "mastered the fickle Grenache grape as evidenced by the 2003 Grenache Prodigal, a 100 percent Grenache from 46-60 year old vines that was aged two years in French and American wood prior to being bottled unfiltered. It boasts...melted licorice intermixed with pepper, kirsch liqueur and raspberries. This rich, full-bodied, opulent offering tastes like a Pinot Noir on steroids." óWA 92
2003 Longwood Estate Shiraz
"Ripe, mouth-filling style is generous with its plum, currant, and dusky spice flavors, adding a licorice lift as the finish persists against moderately grippy tannins. Has the concentration and length to last. Best from 2007 through 2015." óWS 91.
2004 Marquis Philips Shiraz "9"
Another fine effort from Sarah and Sparky Marquis, in partnership with the Grateful Palate's Dan Philips! As Integrity was not made for 2004, all of the grapes went into the Shiraz 9, in itself an amazingly concentrated, fleshy, full-bodied wine. With an alcohol percentage of sixteen percent, it drinks like a California Zinfandel, one of the better ones! The wine "boasts...blackberry and cassis fruit intermixed with smoke, camphor, and tar notes...it should drink well for at least a decade." óWA 92
2003 Shaw & Smith Shiraz "Adelaide Hills"
"Bright and jazzy, with distinct black pepper and mineral aromas and flavors waving through the blackberry and licorice character at the core, wrapped with fine-grained tannins. Finish persists impressively..." óWS 91.
2004 Tait Proprietary Blend "The Ball Buster"
"A classic Barossa Valley effort in terms of bigness, boldness, and a dramatic display of fruit and intensity. If you want something delicate, restrained, and understated, steer clear of this locomotive that crashes over the palate with a flamboyant display of blackberry and cassis fruit, licorice, tar, and spicy oak. Explosively rich with formidable intensity, this blend of 70 percent Shiraz, 15 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15 percent Merlot is an amazing wine for the price..." óWA 93.
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