t seemed like an intriguing theme, especially coming from Jim Friedman, a man whose main wine proclivities are more along the lines of Bordeaux and Champagne, so when he flew the idea for an offline featuring highly rated Australian Shiraz amongst the southeastern Michigan contingent of the Mark Squires - eRobert Parker forums, more than a few people found it to be a juicy opportunity to try a cross section of delectables that don't often come their way. The event was ratings driven, calling for wines receiving 96 points or better according to Parker, and was held at the well appointed Wabeeck Country Club, in Bloomfield Hills, on a warm Saturday evening in mid - April.
while I'm not a numbers kind o' guy, I have enjoyed many a glass of fine
Australian wine in my travels, so I had an idea that this might be worth showing up for,
and not just to renew old acquaintances or make a few new ones.
2002 Torbreck The Factor Barossa, 14.5% alc.: Deep dark garnet,
fading to pink at the rim, with perfumed black cherry, plum and
blackberry aromatics accented with hints of chocolate and sea air; these
impressions follow through on the palate, with a very smooth, yet dense
texture, being rich, but not over the top. There's a good dose of
tannins underneath all that fruit, and it throws a little heat, but all
in all, this is a nice glass of wine.
The seven wines served with dinner were poured in advance, giving them time to open with air. There were three bottles of each selection contributed, one for each table, with more than enough wine to go around. Dinner consisted of a Caesar salad to start, followed by a fine thick rib eye steak, served medium rare and accompanied by gratin mashed potatoes and asparagus spears. Without exception, each glass in the flight looked as if it held ink, rather than wine, and as said glasses were smallish, the aromatics of some may have suffered. I started off with the two I thought might be the least food friendly, based on previous experiences.
2002 Marquis Philips McLaren Vale Shiraz 9, 16% alc.: Big sweet oak dominates the plum and berry on the nose of this ooze monster, with more plum and berry on the palate, and noticeable heat. With just a little swirlatude, it takes on a vanilla milkshake quality, and indeed, Dan Myers found it somewhat reminiscent of J. Lohr Cabs from the '80s. Not totally disgusting, but I didn't finish my glass.
2002 Marquis Philips McLaren Vale Shiraz Integrity, 16% alc.: Not much on the nose, with hard dark fruit and big oak in the mouth, packin' serious heat. No mas for this taster, but it had its admirers.
2002 Amon - Ra Barossa Shiraz, 14.5% alc.: Reticent aromatics, with relatively restrained, balanced spicy black plum and blackberry, showing no heat to speak of and no excess oak. Food friendly and very enjoyable; Loren agreed, calling it beautiful.
1999 d'Arenberg McLaren Vale Shiraz The Dead Arm, 14.5% alc.: Showing mostly sea air on the not - overly - exuberant nose, this fills out in the mouth, with black plum, black currant, and hints of chocolate, earth and mineral, being almost Rhône - like compared to some of these. The oak is restrained, and the tannins are soft, making for a lovely glass of Shiraz. This was a big favorite at our table, and my wine of the night, along with the Grange. It's in no danger of fading any time soon, so drink or hold.
2001 d'Arenberg McLaren Vale Shiraz The Dead Arm, 15% alc.: This one has a little more of everything that the '99 shows; a little more on the nose, a little more oak, a little brighter fruit and of course, more tannins, all while maintaining the same essential flavor profile. Very nice with the rib eye, despite showing a little heat.
2003 Mitolo G.A.M. McLaren Vale Shiraz, 14.5% alc.: Paul Ragheb's fiancé‚ Amy described this as "like a botanical garden in my mouth," and while it doesn't give much on the nose, it is quite tasty, with a note of cloves over blackberry and black currant. Very smooth, and not too tannic, this is almost claret - like, and matches well with the rib eye. With a little air, an element of maple syrup emerges, adding complexity and interest.
2001 Torbreck Barossa Shiraz The Factor, 14% alc.: Restrained oak over a
little tar and black fruit on the nose, with a lot more of everything on
the palate; rich, medium full bodied, with a nice finish and just a
little heat, this is fairly food friendly, with a slightly creamy
quality and a bit o' chocolate as it opens.
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