Blog 85- More from Canberra- International cool climate Shiraz tasting



After a full mornings judging at the Winewise Small Vigneron Awards (including some lovely Cabernet’s), we were lucky enough to have an International Shiraz tasting in the afternoon. Organised by Winewise main man, Lester Jesberg, who had sourced top shelf cool-climate Shiraz from all around the world for our tasting pleasure. There were 5 from cool climate Australia, 5 from France, 5 from NZ & 5 from the USA. All of the wines were tasted blind, there was some very interesting discussion, and even more interesting results. I thought I would share my tasting notes with you. Remember I am not a winewriter, so forgive my lack of eloquence- and the opinions are my own.

The International Shiraz tasting begins- The great James Halliday in the background

1. Pepper spice, sweet briary fruit backbone, black & white pepper, some stems work, perhaps a hint of viognier. Medium bodied layers, silky tannins, fresh & vibrant. Lovely, velvety palate. Score: 18.5 pts (GOLD) 2007 Cayuse Vineyards Cailloux Vineyard Syrah, Walla Walla, Washington State, USA. Alc: 14.6%

2. Meaty toast charcuterie, some impact of brettanomyces on the nose, lovely char. Length and chewy tannins, some tobacco leaf, slightly dried out. Score: 16 pts (BRONZE) 2007 J.L. Chave Hermitage. Alc: 14%

3. Berries and spice, forest floor, wooddy herb berries, all spice, sweet spiced apples, cinnamon. Good charry tight tannins, not huge mid palate fruit, layers and dusty tannin. Great vibrancy & freshness. Score: 18.5 (GOLD) 2007 Paringa Estate Mornington Peninsula Shiraz. Alc: 14%

4. Smoked meats, earthy savoury notes. Ripe berry characters on nose, slightly over the top. Big riverstone, ferruguous notes on palate. Tight fruit, richness, length, fine tannins. Plenty of new oak, but well controlled. Score: 17.5 (SILVER) 2007 Trinity Hill Homage Syrah, Hawkes Bay, NZ. Alc:14.5%

5. Some blackcurrant juice notes, smoked meats and a creamy lift. Slightly sour on the front palate, oak playing a major part in the wine. Good layers, toast & perfume. Plush tannins & maouthfeel. Score: 17 (SILVER) 2006 Sequel Columbia Valley Syrah, Washington State, USA. Alc: 14.7%

6. Very pretty smoky char. Lifted pepper spice, florals and attractive barrel ferment notes. Big spice, mouthwatering acid, lovely retronasal florals. Meaty & charry charcuterie salami notes. Score: 19 (TOP GOLD) 2006 Guigal La Mouline, Cote Rotie, France. Alc: 13.5%

7. Some forest floor notes, slight bitumen. Stewed black fruits, spice on the background. Warm fruit up front- pretty extracted tannins on the back palate. Little pushed ripeness wise. Score: 16 (BRONZE) 2006 Mt Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz. Alc: 14.5%

8. Some brettanomyces on the nose. Metallic on the palate, bitter tannins & dried out. Score: 14 (NO MEDAL) 2007 Mission Huchet Gimblett Gravels Syrah, NZ. Alc: 14.5%

9. Pepper spice. Lifted layers, some chocolate on the background, big sweet burst through the mid palate, some barrel ferment notes. Oak playing a major role, but enough big fruit to cope with it and brilliant integration. Lovely tannins, great length. Excellent wine. Score: 19 (TOP GOLD) 2006 Sine Qua Non Raven Syrah, California, USA. Alc: 15.5%

10. Some char and brettanomyces on the nose. Smoky and very dry tannins. Stripped mid palate weight, tobacco leaf & earthy spice. Ashtray on the palate. Score: 15 (NO MEDAL) 2006 Chapoutier La Mordoree, Cote Rotie, France. Alc: 13.5%

11. Sweet funky lifted floral berries. Some primary fruits, sulfide lift. Primary fruits again on the palate. Lovely sweet berries through the palate, length & layers fresh and tight. Very vibrant & stylish. Score: 18.5 (GOLD) 2007 Shaw & Smith Shiraz, Adelaide Hills. Alc: 14%

12. Smoky pepper meats. More pepper through the palate, smoky toast. Drying tannins, but interesting charry note. Needs time to come together. Score: 17 (SILVER) 2007 Church Road Reserve Syrah, Hawkes Bay, NZ. Alc: 13.5%

13. Liquorice, lifted creamy fruit. Blackberry, black forest cake, creamy and round. Very powerful fruit, but bit over extracted making the tannins look a bit blocky and chalky. Lots of violets & spice. Score: 17 (SILVER) 2007 Carlisle Russian River Valley Syrah, California, USA. Alc: 14.1%

14. Very green bean, capsicum, vegetal. Lots of stems and very green tannins. Very hard to love this wine. Tannins too green. Score: 15 (NO MEDAL) 2007 Domaine Clape Cornas, France. Alc: 13.0%

15. Round generous stewed black fruits, very powerful. Plum & toast with lots of punchy oak. Very primary fruited, but oak sitting on top of the wine a little at the moment. Score: 16.5 (BRONZE) 2007 Tyrells VAt 9 Shiraz, Hunter Valley. Alc: 13.5%

16. Big oak vanillans, berry chocolate notes, mocha choc berry, hint of mint and coffee. Very big tannins, alot of oak, argue that the palate weight cant hold the amount of oak. Score: 16.5 (BRONZE) 2007 Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah, Gimblett Gravels, NZ. Alc: 14%

17. Fresh spice, lifted sweet berry, char & barrel ferment, oak char and alot of spice. Big oak on the finish, slightly to vanillan, fruit tannins are swept away with the oak tannins a bit. Score: 17.5 (SILVER) 2007 Dumol Russian River Valley Syrah, California, USA. Alc: 14.2%

18. Very pungent liquid peppercorns, pepper trees, meats & spice. Dense tight acid line, mouthwatering acid, soft layers of tannin, great length. Very pretty spice, fragrance & pepper. Score: 18.5 (GOLD) 2007 Les Vins de Vienne l’Arzelle St Joseph, France. Alc: 13.0% (Apparently very cheap at Dan Murphys!)

19. Eucalyptus and menthol on nose. Slightly raw oak, with menthol through the palate. Little bit extracted, should mellow out well, but very blocky at the moment. Looks like Wendoree. Loads of potential, but needs time. Score: 17 (SILVER) 2007 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, Canberra District. Alc: 14%

20. Stewed vegetables, slight dishwater edge. Some sweet & sour stemmy impact, good tannin weight, but not looking very together on the palate. Undercover red fruits, looking a bit arms & legs. Score: 15.5 (BRONZE) 2007 Aurora Bendigo Central Otago Syrah, NZ. Alc: 14%

All in all, an amazing tasting. Thanks very much to Lester Jesberg for putting the wines together. Was very surprised to see the USA wines perform so well- as was the rest of the tasters. Unfortunately, both my Top Gold wines are of course the most expensive wines that we tasted!! Best start saving my pocket money….

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