Lucky me! My boss who is from Australia gifted me with this wonderful wine in his quest to find comparable California wines. We enjoyed it with Sunday night dinner, which was Salmon Glazed with a Thai Chili Sauce and assorted sauteed vegetables over rice.
This robust, deep purple wine stood up very well to the spice in the chili glaze. Almost completely opaque, it is big and intense yet well balanced and versatile enough to complement a wide variety of cuisines.
The first thing I noticed was the complex nose, with the aroma of fine cocoa tempered with cedar, black cherry and allspice. The mid palate gave a burst of flavor full of rich black fruit; plums and raspberries - good acidity and none of the jammy sweetness of a lesser quality wine. I noticed a nice kick of rhubarb and cranberry flavors with just a hint of persimmon.
The finish was long and pleasurable, with enough tannin to provide interest without being overwhelming or characteristic of a "young" wine. I tasted some earth notes, leather, and fine oak in the finish.
To borrow a term from the great Robert Parker, this wine was "intellectually satisfying" in every way.
Now, on to my challenge. This wine is very unique to the Barossa Valley in Australia. Even though our Californian Syrah is pretty much the same grape as Shiraz, the difference in climate, soil, and conditions make those two wines very different. I recently enjoyed a California Syrah that was quite a bit lighter in character than this Shiraz.
Am having fun reviewing my tasting notes and looking at my cellar to see which California wine to recommend as a suitable local alternative that is comparable in both price and quality. Reviewing local Malbec as well as red Bordeaux blends in the area - but this is a challenge as this Shiraz has the density of a fine port without the sweetness.
On with my quest!