Tag Archive for 'Australian wine'

the Little Penguin Cabernet Sauvignon

Little Penguin Cabernet Sauvignonthe Little Penguin Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 SE Australia, $5.50 for 750 ml

(Red Wine)

The Little Penguin Shiraz was such a pleasant surprise that I thought I would give their Cabernet Sauvignon a run for the money. Plus, I like thinking of cute little penguins wobbling around in hand-knit sweaters somewhere in New Zealand (see Little Penguin Shiraz post). It makes me happy.

True to Cabernet form, I detected that pleasantly sour, blackcurrant flavor and a nice acidic bite. The tannins were a bit lower that I would have expected from a Cabernet and I discovered this with some level of disappointment. I’ve grown to enjoy a nice dose of puckering tannins in my Cabernet Sauvignon.

While the flavor was pleasant, I preferred the denser-almost chewy-Little Penguin Shiraz to their Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet was less complex and the flavor was of a sharper, less rolling-deep sensation.

Bottom line? I’m still KO’d by the Little Penguin. While the Shiraz is my favorite so far, the Cabernet also offers good value for the price.

wine’s website: www.thelittlepenguin.com

Jacobs Creek Chardonnay-Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine

Jacobs Creek Chardonnay-Pinot Noir Sparkling WineJacobs Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine (Brut)
(no vintage) SE Australia, $9.50 for 750 ml
(Sparkling White Wine)

Even if you’ve had a bad day, when you pop open a bottle of sparkling wine, you’ve just got to feel like you’re celebrating.  And in my case, I actually was! 

Not only does Jacobs Creek sparkling wine make a birthday meal seem that much more celebratory, but I also found that it is hard to get depressed about aging when you’re sipping on such a tasty beverage.  Now, that ‘s what I call strategy!

The taste? The JC Chardonnay-Pinot Noir was crisp and refreshing with a bit of green apple zing. I suppose that was the Chardonnay talking.  Although this wine was dry, it did have just a hint of sweetness that gave this bubbly a friendly, festive flair without hitting one over the head with cloying sugaryness as some sparkling wines are apt to do.

Bottom line? A bargain dry sparkling wine.  This sparkling JC Chardonnay Pinot Noir was actually served with a  turkey dinner, so the drier nature went well with our meal.  If you’re looking for a dessert sparkling wine however, (or just something a bit sweeter), I would go with something labeled “Sec”, “Demi-Sec” or for really, really sweet, “Doux”. For more info on Sparkling wines, see antiwinesnob’s article on What’s the Difference between Sweet Wine and Dry Wine and look to the last section on Sparkling Wines.

wine’s website: www.jacobscreek.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

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 Cabernet Sauvignon

Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon[yellow tail] Cabernet Sauvignon

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

I really like the Yellow Tail Cab.

It has a thick, round, blackcurrant flavor that is also (at least to me) slightly smoky … in a good way. I thought the tannin flavor and feel was well balanced; the wine has a smooth, deep flavor but with enough zing and grip in it to keep things interesting.

And, best of all, this wine is versatile. It’s very pleasant to sip all on its own, or to be paired with your favorite tapas.

Bottom line? This is a tasty and friendly Cabernet at a great price.

wine’s website: www.yellowtailwine.com

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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