Archive for the 'Shiraz' Category

Big Ass Shiraz

Big Ass ShirazBig Ass Shiraz
2006, SE Australia, $8.50 for 750 ml, 13.5% Alc
Red Wine

I like Shiraz.  I really do.  But when my husband brought me this bottle to review, I wasn’t sure how to take it.  I mean, it isn’t a very subtle hint at one’s physical endowments, is it?  Well, upon seeing my arched eyebrow after viewing the label, he assured me there were no untoward messages involved with picking this particular bottle.  I told him he was a sucker for marketing.

Enough of domestic issues.  You want to know if this is just another whimsical label masquerading a less than stellar bottle of grape juice, or if there is really something to that Big … kangaroo.  The answer?  There is.

Big Ass Shiraz pours with a deep, rich-red color and the flavor is very raisin-plummy with medium tannin (that pleasant, drying undertone that seems to grip one’s tongue).  However, what makes this Shiraz interesting to me is that it has a much higher acid level than other Shiraz I’ve had.  The acid really zings the tip of one’s tongue and makes the unsuspecting sipper take notice. Most Australian Shiraz bottlings are very “juicy” (for lack of a better word) and don’t have the backbone of strong acidity that makes other reds like Pinot Noir or even Cabernet Sauvignon so interesting.  This vino had all the pleasant full flavor of most Shiraz, but it also had a firm slap of acidity that gave it some oomph and added a layer of texture missing in other bottlings of this varietal. 

Bottom Line?  The Big Ass Shiraz is quite good and is a unique version of the Aussie varietal.  Definitely worth a try.

 Wine’s Website:  (Couldn’t find.  The bottle indicates it as www.bigasswines.com, but it does not appear to be the correct address.)

Black Swan Shiraz

Black Swan ShirazBlack Swan Shiraz

2006, SE Australia, $8.00 for 1.5L

(Red Wine)

Amazing! For the price, I was so very happy with the Black Swan Shiraz.

I had read a review in the past that eschewed inexpensive wines as nothing but plonk and used inexpensive Australian versions-particularly naming Black Swan wines-as an example of cheap cost=cheap quality wine. So, maybe I entered into this tasting with lowered expectations. Or, maybe, my Black Swan was just trying to prove a point….

According to my research, the term “Black Swan” is a saying used back more commonly in the day when folks in Western Europe sipped their afternoon tea with curled pinkies. Apparently, it was (and still is) an expression employed when one meant to state that something was impossible or did not exist. As in, “a unicorn is nothing but a black swan.”

Well, leave it to the Australians to actually discover a species of black swan in the 17th century! In fact, black swans in Australia are a pretty common form of fowl. Kind of turns around the meaning behind the metaphor a bit, doesn’t it?

It makes me wonder about unicorns, too….

With such an independent spirit behind the name, it should come as no surprise that my Black Swan Shiraz defied expectations.

Was it inexpensive? Yes, very.

Was it poor quality? Not at all.

The Black Swan Shiraz isn’t necessarily a layered and complex wine, but it is definitely a berry filled, slurpy drink that is friendly and very easy to enjoy. Less caustic on the tannins and acidity, it still has a nice, easy going balance filled with juicy, almost strawberry-like flavors. It’s a pleasant sipper for an evening book reading, or as an accompaniment to dinner.

Bottom line? Good bargain and recommended if you want an easygoing red wine filled with lots of berry flavor. At least for this inexpensive and delicious Shiraz, harmony of economy and quality is not an impossibility.  It’s just a Black Swan.

wine’s website: www.blackswanwines.com

Little Penguin Shiraz

Little Penguin Shirazthe Little Penguin Shiraz
2006 SE Australia $5.00 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

 

The Little Penguin Shiraz packs a lot of flavor into such an inexpensive bottle. And, while its namesake might be the smallest species of penguin in the world (Little Penguins only weigh about 2.2 pounds!) this wine has a presence that’s anything but lightweight.

The color is velvety red and the taste reflects this opulence. Flavors of blackberry and oak—mixed with just a bit of spiciness—simply roll through your mouth (okay wine snobs, your palate) and leave you wanting more.

What’s not to like about this Shiraz? According to its website, it even helps support a penguin protection, rescue and rehabilitation group called The Penguin Foundation. Awww. Now, that just makes me feel even better about drinking this stuff. Am I a sucker for marketing or what?

Bottom line: Excellent wine for the price. And, it’s really fun to sip on while you research obscure facts about Little Penguins…. Did you know that they’re also called “Fairy Penguins” or that they often mate for life? Or that there are environmental groups that knit sweaters for them? Seriously. Or that their feathers are actually not black but blue? … Okay, I’ll stop.

wine’s website: www.thelittlepenguin.com

Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz

Lindemans Bin 50 ShirazLindemans Bin 50 Shiraz
2005 SE Australia $7.35 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Lindemans enjoys an excellent reputation for quality, affordable wines and the Bin 50 Shiraz is another illustration of why.

Intrigued a bit by this company, I checked out Lindemans’ website and read that Dr. Henry Lindeman decided to start a vineyard back in the 1800′s as a means to provide quality, everyday wines for everyday folks. Hmm. Sounds like he might have been an antiwinesnob….

Whatever the case, the Bin 50 Shiraz demonstrates a quality (of the wine) to quantity (in the cost) ratio that would be nice to be found more often.

This wine is full bodied and higher on the acidity than many Shiraz. And, it has a nice “dusty” amount of tannins; just enough to give it some substance, but otherwise, it lets the higher acid flavors of berries-mixed with a bit of woodiness–do the talking. The result is a deep, rich, luscious liquid that I very much appreciate. It is a yummy sipper all on its own or as an accompaniment to a meal.

Bottom line? The 2005 Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz is a very good bargain. Thanks Dr. Henry for thinking of us antiwinesnobs way back when!

wine’s website: www.lindemans.com

JackaRoo Big Red (Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz blend)

Jackaroo Big RedJackaRoo Big Red
2003, SE Australia, $7.35 for 750 ml
(49% Cab, 44% Shiraz, 7% Merlot)
(Red Wine)

According to my Google search, “Jackaroo” is an Australian term for an apprentice on a cattle station or ranch…. Well, that makes me want to say something cutesy involving Australian slang and barbecue, but I shall refrain from doing so. You’re welcome.

In short, “Big Red” is a good description for this JackaRoo wine. While it doesn’t have a lot of depth, it is full of easygoing, juicy, round flavors, and it also has a good dose of tannins that save the wine from simply tasting like a fat, fermented grape.

The tasting notes cite flavors of blackberry, spicy aromas and a hint of vanilla oak. The Big Red did have a plump, berryness that I can see described as blackberry, and I did get the vanilla oak flavor (more oak than vanilla), but honestly, I would never describe the aroma of this wine as “spicy.” It just isn’t.

While I would have said that this wine was okay (not great, but okay), unfortunately, my Big Red had an undercurrent of unpleasant spoiled, nutty flavors that tasted as though it had not been properly sealed. In other words, it tasted oxidized. I don’t know if this is a problem with all JackaRoo Big Reds, or just a flaw in the bottling that I happened upon.

Bottom line? While the JackaRoo has potential, the flavors I found were ruined by the funky, old taste of oxidization. For the price, I have found other wines that have a bit more depth and taste much fresher. Sorry, apprentice. I think you’re fired.

wine’s website: couldn’t find

Hardys Shiraz

Hardys ShirazHardys Shiraz

2006. Southeastern Australia $5.95 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

I soooo wanted to give the Hardys Shiraz a positive review.

Aside from its affordable price, Hardys Shiraz puts itself into boxed wine and bottles with screw caps.  I mean, how much more defiantly underdog can a wine get?

Lest you take me the wrong way, antiwinesnob does not disparage the use of screw caps or of boxed wine.  Rather, it applauds Hardys for doing this.

The fact of the matter is, both methods (boxed wine and screw-cap bottles) have been shown to actually preserve wine better than traditional corks or synthetic ones.  The problem is, there’s still a lot of snobbery out there regarding wines marketed in screw-cap bottles or in boxes.  It takes a certain level of gumption (and common sense) to market one’s wines this way and antiwinesnob is a fervent supporter of gumption and common sense.  And of underdogs.  I even had hopes of the Hardys Shiraz becoming the antiwinesnob mascot….

Alas, the search shall continue as one sip of the Hardys Shiraz revealed the lurking evil that is acetic acid (“AcAc”).  While the rich, berry flavors were all there, the sickeningly sour/sweet flavor of AcAc sabotaged any redeeming qualities along with my taste buds.

In an effort to be fair, I employed the same technique I tried with the Marcus James Cab: I sipped it with my dinner of turkey breast and steamed veggies with melted cheddar cheese in the hopes that the proteins in my food might masquerade the nasty AcAc flavor. This time, the trick did not work.  Instead, my dinner just tasted bad, too. Or maybe it was actually my cooking….

Bottom line?  Pass on the 2006 Hardys Shiraz.  But darn it, I’m still not ready to give up on them, so you might see another review in the future on a different Hardys wine.

wine’s website: www.hardys.com

Fat Croc Shiraz

fat croc shirazFat Croc Shiraz
South Eastern Australia, 2004, $6.15 for 750 ml

(Red Wine)

What more can I say? You’ve got a satiated, prehistoric reptilian creature on a bottle of wine.

Well, I might be able to push myself into verboseness.

The Fat Croc Shiraz from South Eastern Australia has got an impressive deep, red-purple color. With all that hue and a thicker viscosity going on, I was surprised to find that the smell was not that striking or singular. In fact, it smelled pretty mild and without much zing.

I took a sip and at first, it seemed juicy—like grape juice—and without much structure. My second and third sips, however, gave me more bang for the buck. I noticed a zingy-ness that kept the juicy flavors from falling flat and just enough tannin in it to give the wine some grip, but not so much as to make it imposing.

Overall, I’d describe this wine as juicy, smooth and pretty good. In fact, it might be too smooth: you might forget you’re drinking wine (it’s got 14 percent alcohol). So be careful—that croc’s fat for a reason!

Yellow Tail Shiraz

Yellow Tail Shiraz wine[yellow tail] Shiraz

2006. Southeast Australia. $7.00 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Here’s something that you might have wondered for a while: Syrah (originally from France) and Shiraz (from Australia) are the same grape. Shiraz is also the most widely grown variety in Australia (smart folks, those Aussies are!).

Lots of other places like California and Washington make Syrah/Shiraz, too, and depending on whether or not the wine will have a more Aussie-angle or a more Franco-flair will decide the spelling of the grape. Kind of fun, right?

The Australian style has often been described as “plump”, “dense” or “juicy” while the Franco version seems to be defined as more restrained and peppery. While I would agree that the Australian Shiraz is plump, dense, juicy and then some, I’ve really no idea if the French style Syrah description is accurate as I’ve never had much opportunity to really sample these. While I’ve no doubt the Syrah are delicious, I have to say, I’ve grown quite fond of the Australian style!

The Yellow Tail Shiraz seems to be very popular red wine, so I thought I would give it an audition on my taste buds. Maybe it was the expectation after hearing so much about the Yellow Tail Shiraz, but, while I did think it was a good wine, I like the Yellow Tail Cabernet better.
I think this is why: The smell isn’t super strong but a sip of it is. I think it’s more of a high tannin and alcohol flavor than anything else. Those flavors overpowered the cherry and blackcurrant, slightly sweet flavor behind it and left me feeling a bit confused. It seemed a bit tongue-drying to a point where I felt like I couldn’t taste anything else.

Now, this description sounds very negative, so I’d like to have a little disclaimer here. I still think this is a good wine and it’s also a great price. Others really really seem to like it, so it’s certainly worth a try to see what you think. Also, like all wine, what one eats (or doesn’t eat) while drinking it changes the whole experience. Because of that tanniny, alcoholy flavor, I might have had a very different experience if I’d had a rich meal with my wine to help balance things out. In fact, I think I’ll have to try it again, only this time, with some sharp cheddar cheese or a bit of steak.

Bottom line? It’s certainly worth a try but I would recommend having it with foods.

wine’s website: www.yellowtailwine.com

Mattie’s Perch

Matties Perch Cabernet/ShirazMattie’s Perch. Cabernet-Shiraz

Australia. On sale for $3.99 for 750 ml (normally$6.99)
(Red Wine)

Australia is famous for its good, inexpensive red wines; particularly, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. While many folks turn their nose up at the low-end prices and dismiss these wines as just “big red juiciness”, I say phooey on them. It is true that the land of Auz has put out tons of red wine for people like me to drink. And for that, I thank the good vintners from down under.

Now, I’ve read some good and bad things about this particular wine, so I thought I should explore it on my own. Here’s what I thought:

Mattie’s Perch Cabernet-Shiraz from Australia smells sweet and fruity. Tastes pretty much the same: a lot like drinking grape juice, but with alcohol and just a tiny bit of acid to twang your tongue. It’s a little softer than a lot of other reds and doesn’t have the strong flavors that a lot of folks acquire a taste for. For the price, it’s not a bad wine if you’re just looking for something casual to sip on.

But, if you like the complex feel and layered texture that a lot of Cabernet Sauvignons or Shiraz offer, you might not like this one as much. It’s a little less complicated, I think, and just plain friendly. Not recommended for wine snobs.

wine’s website: www.mattiesperch.com







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