Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Eight Shiraz-ments

52 weeks of drinking and this is all I have to show for it:

Well that and the knowledge I have gained, which I share with you:

The Eight Shiraz-ments*
*At the risk of offending any of my more devout readers, if I have any, this post will likely be irreverent.  Also, I had to google "The Ten Commandments." Surprisingly some didn't correspond appropriately to drinking. Proceed with caution.

Remember the promised land
One of the most important lessons I learned on my blogging and drinking journey was about geography.  The fact is, Australia created Shiraz (sneakily ripping off the French Syrah) and they do it best.  Sure, there are some great bottles from other areas, but it is rare to find a dud in the Australian section.  In fact, exactly half of the bottles I reviewed were from Australia, and only one bottle ended up on the "Do Not Buy" section of the shopping list.  And, four out of five of my "MVP" labels were Australian.  So, when in doubt, remember the promised land.  I know I will if I am ever in the unfamiliar waters of a restaurant wine list.

Honor thy Wolf
It is important to give respect where it's due.  And, in my humble opinion is that Wolf Blass is the father of Shiraz.  It is a label that has yet to fail me at any price-point.  You can get the very reasonably priced Eaglehawk ($13), the mid-range Yellow Label ($18), or splurge on the Premium ($30) and you will not taste a single sip of disappointment on your palate.  In Wolf Blass we trust.

Covet your neighbour's wine
Yeah, you read that right.  Go on and covet that expensive bottle of wine your rich neighbors are sipping while they dine on beluga caviar at their mahogany table.  There are some tasty more expensive labels that are worth their weight in wine.  My faves in the $18-25 range, aside from the Wolf Blass listed above, are Mission Hill, McWilliams, Wakefield, Rosemount and Wyndam Bin 555. 

You shall not steal, but you can get a good deal.
I know I just filled your head with dreams of coveting your neighbour's expensive wines, but you really can get great wine at a reasonable price.  There are plenty of sales at the liquor store that allow to to save a few bucks here and there on mid-priced or expensive brands, but there are some low-priced bottles that should not be overlooked and will not leave you wishing you'd spent more.  The five that will become staples at my house are: Black Swan, the Little Penguin, Jackson Triggs, Copper Moon, and Gato Negro. 

Judge not lest ye be judged
Don't judge a wine by its label.  We've all been there - called to the check-out line by the generic cute animal on a colorful label.  It is hard not to judge based on appearance or cost.  But, I have been disappointed by good looks and high price-tags before.  Similarly, there have been wines I sneered at (hello? Billyrock Station? Wine in a CAN?) only to quickly change my tune after taking a taste. 

Thou shalt not commit wine-icide.
Murder is bad, and what I did to poor Banrock Station was wrong.  I know that now.  Please, don't make the same mistake I did.  When you find a delicious wine, savour it.  There is no need to devour the entire bottle in one sitting by yourself.  Have a couple glasses and then put a cork in it.  Don't kill your desire to ever drink that brand again.  And certainly don't resurrect the wine into the porcelain throne.

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Some of you might not have recently researched the Sabbath on Wikipedia so here is the scoop: basically the Jewish people traditionally observe the Sabbath from sundown on Friday until Saturday evening and we all know Saturday goes well with Shiraz.  But, the point isn't really the day, is it?  Sabbath is derived from the Hebrew for "to cease" and that is the message I am trying to deliver.  It doesn't matter what day or time you choose (hey, it's always noon somewhere, right?) but what matters is you give yourself a break once in a while.  Sip and cease.  Repeat.

Love thy neighbour as you love yourself.
What could possibly be more fun than enjoying a good bottle of Shiraz alone in front of the TV on a Saturday night?  Sharing it with friends, of course!  Seriously, although it is tempting to hoard your tasty wine to yourself, it is better enjoyed amongst good company.  And, of greater note, wine can make bad company more tolerable.  So share!

Oh, and vanilla.  Many of the wines I've truly enjoyed had hints of vanilla.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Errazuriz Estate: Week #52

This is it!  Week #52 - a full year of Shiraz.  Next week I will mark my last Saturday Shiraz post with a summative educational review I like to call "The 10 Shiraz-ments." 

Well, Chile has been a solid Shiraz contributor.  I've had two other bottles - one which I thought was good (Casillero del Diablo), and another (Gato Negro) that, due to its combo of price & taste, will be a bottle I buy frequently.

Errazuriz Estate - Chile, 2009
$14.99
13.5% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"Spicy and full bodied with a concentrated black fruits and pepper character.  We pioneered growing Shiraz in Chile"
I have to say that there seems to be quite a few labels claiming to be pioneers or fathers or grandfathers of Shiraz.

This was a nice wine.  It really had that Shiraz pep - almost teetering on jarring or sour, but it weighs more on the side of yummy with a good bite.  So, if you enjoy a bold spicy wine, this may be what you've been looking for.  I know I enjoyed it - even without the richness and fuller body of some of my blogger's pets.

Helpful Husband: "This one is good too."
He really went all out for his last blog tip!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rymill: Week #51

I really love the styling of this label.  That little horse seems so elegant and energetic and the same time.  I hope the wine inside has the same character.

This wine accompanied me on a child-free one-night girls' beach getaway.  My two favorite colleagues helped me polish off the bottle over dinner and hysterics.

Rymill Coonawarra The Yearling - Australia, 2009
$15.29
14.5% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"Fresh from the Rymill Coonawarra stabloe, the Yearling is a gallant one year-old Coonawarra Shiraz.  Made from estate-grown fruit, this spicy and appealing wine is absolutely perfect to enjoy now!"
I like the metaphor connecting the horse to the wine.  And, I really enjoy the exclamation mark!  You don't see a lot of those on wine labels!

This one was really good.  It had a nice hit of pepper, but it still went down nice and smooth.  It was medium bodied and it was soft on the palate.  We each had two glasses and it was gone.

Guest Tester #1: "This horse has galloped into my heart"
Guest Tester #2: "It's like a gentle lover"

(Okay, so I made a voice memo on my phone while we were drinking this, but I somehow didn't save it - or it didn't record in the first place, so I made these up.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Long Flat Destinations: Week #50

Holy Shit.  Week #50.  Only three more bottles to go, and then of course some sort of final post to sum up my Shiraz-tic journey.  Helpful Husband and I packed up our boys and headed on the highway to travel about 20km in order to select my final three labels at a newish liquor store in the "city."  So, that is that.  All done with blog-driven wine selections.

Just as a side note - Helpful Husband and I enjoyed dinner out on Monday night.  We ordered a half litre of Shiraz - Blackhorn (Australian) and it was absolutely delicious.  If you see this label on your local shelves, you will not be disappointed, and please let me know where you happened to find it!  Maybe on my trip to Ontario in a few weeks I will find the elusive Blackhorn.

Long Flast Destinations Barossa Valley - Australia, 2008
$16.99
15% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"Our 2008 offering sits in the middle of the spectrum with aromas of plum and dark chocolate and berries and spices on the palate imparted by time in American oak"
What is with all the "ands"?  Use a comma people!

I enjoyed this wine well enough.  It was solid - it had a nice flavor and an interesting soft touch.  It had a bit of a spice, not peppery, but just a hint of tang.  The thing with being this far into this journey is that I know there are many good wines that I will never purchase again.  It isn't that there is anything wrong with this wine - its nice - its just that there are others I would prefer for $17 (Rosemount or Wolf Blass Yellow Label for instance).

Helpful Husband Tip: "You're not going to like this one.  It has a weird zing"
Me: "Really? I like it fine.  I don't find there is a jarring aftertaste at all. I'm surprised to hear you don't like it"
HH: "I like it"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wyndham Estate Bin 555: Week #49

At this point, I do not want to risk drinking bad wine.  The adventure in choosing new things is wearing off - I want to reach for trusted friends (and I have made many!) and know that I will enjoy their company.  Luckily for me, I remembered that while I have tasted this week's selection before, I have yet to review it.  Perfect.

Wyndham Estate Bin 555 (Australia, 2008)
$17.99
14% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"George Wyndham became the father of Australian Shiraz after planting Australia's first commercial Shiraz vineyard.  His dedication to handcrafting intensely flavoured wines is a proud legacy that endures at Wyndham Estate."
If this dude is the father of Australian Shiraz, then I have an official answer to the proverbial question "Who's your Daddy?"

This is a good wine; it is a solid Shiraz.  It has a medium body and lots of flavor.  It is smooth and a very approachable Shiraz.  Wyndham might be a little more fruity and a little less spicy than some of my most favorite brands...or maybe it is just missing that hint of vanilla... but it is still very yummy!

No Helpful Husband Tip available. Sorry.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Misterio Week #48

This was a quick selection - except that my 5 year old needed to pee and "couldn't hold it" until we got home.  So, I asked the cashier if there was a public bathroom he could use and she gave me a lengthy explanation about how there was, but an employee needed to unlock it for me and there wasn't anyone available to do so because there were only two staff members at the store and they both had costumers, but I could wait until there were none.  I'm thinking the bathroom must be on the other side of the store or something and he'll just have to pee up against the building in true wino style, when the other cashier just said "The little guy needs to go?" and walks approximately 3m behind him and unlocks the door. So, thank you liquor-store-cashier-man for your ability to solve complex problems in a quick and efficient manner.  Also, thank you to those fellow customers in line for waiting the extra 4 nanoseconds to ring up their beer.

Misterio- Argentina, 2009
$12.99
13.5%alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"Misterio is the result of years of investigation in our vineyards and winery to achieve a unique type of wine.  Focusing on fruit and softness, we have created this friendly wine."
Well, I will say that the smiling mask on the label does seem friendly.

I think that after years of investigation, you probably just forge ahead even if you're product sucks.  This wine started off with a broken cork, moved to the glass via a knife stuck in the bottle to keep the cork out of the neck, then precisely three sips passed my lips before it ended its life down the drain.  On another day, I might have been able to stomach the glass, but I just had no patience for bad wine on this occasion.

Helpful Husband Tip: "This one is a miss, eh?"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wakefield: Week #47

This week I was feeling bold, adventurous even.  So I drove 8 minutes to the next closest liquor store to check out the digs.  There were a few labels I haven't yet tasted - and I carried a Spanish and Chilean wine around for a while, thinking that I haven't reviewed many from those fine nations.  But, then I saw the Australian section and I decided that at this point in the blog's history, I should be choosing wines I think I will like.  And, this one had lots of awards on the label and the tasting notes mentioned vanilla - and I always really like the ones with vanilla.

Wakefield - Australia, 2008
$18.99
14.5% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"This Shiraz from our founding range of wines displays seductive ripe berry and plum flavours perfectly balance with enticing mocha, spice and creamy vanillin characters from quality American oak"
Okay, so it said "vanillin" - but that's the same as vanilla.  Right?  In either case, it certainly seduced me.

This wine is what this blog is all about: the search for the perfect Shiraz.  I've found one here.  Wakefield can definitely contend with Wolf Blass Yellow Label and McWilliams with its perfect balance of fruit and spice.  It is full bodied and lingers on the finish.  It is rich and delicious. 

Helpful Husband Tip "Oh, this one is good!"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Wolftrap: Week #46

Homestretch baby.  I found another un-reviewed Australian Shiraz while perusing the liquor store today - so that will probably be on deck for the remaining 6 weeks.  I also had a total brainwave: I bet other local-area liquor stores might carry more, or different, varieties of Shiraz!  So, since I'm off work (yeah!), I might go beyond my 3km radius when choosing next week's selection.  It will be scary to travel outside my comfort zone, but I will do it for the sake of the blog.  In retrospect, it really surprises and impresses me that I've been able to review 41 bottles of Shiraz from my local shelves... after all, I do not live in a booming metropolis.  (For the keeners: 5 bottles have arrived from "foreign" liquor stores)

This week's selection has been taunting me for 30+ weeks.  I first saw it on the shelf way back in week 14 or 15 and I was captivated by its label.  I don't know whether it was the fact that the wolf is holding a "downward dog" yoga pose or his skeletor-esq styling, but I was intrigued.  Plus, you can't deny the similarities between Wolftrap and Wolf Blass.  I passed it up for another label and then by the time I went back to pick it up I noticed it was a blend.  Not just any blend, but a Syrah (68%) blended with Mourvedre (30%) and Viognier (2%).  The very same grape that made a guest appearance in the winner of the "Weirdest Shiraz" award, Angove of week 20.  So, it turned me off the weird yoga-skeleton canine until utter desperation of the remaining weeks pushed me to finally pick it off the shelf. 

The Wolftrap - South Africa, 2009
14.5% alc./vol.
$15.69
A word from the wine:
"The Wolftrap is a spicy, aromatic, red blend that has been French oak matured.  The name is a tribute to the pioneers who in early days of the Cape erected a wolf trap at Bockenhoutskloof.  To date, no wolf either real or mystical has been seen in the valley."
So, either this was a kick-ass wolf trap or the pioneers really wasted their time building that stupid thing.  Do wolves even live in Africa?  (Turns out they do - I found out via the interwebs that the Canis Simensis, aka the Ethiopian wolf, does reside in Africa. Too bad it is extremely endangered, and there are currently only five hundred adult wolves in existence. Way to go pioneers, thanks for the amazing wolf trap.  You done good.)

The Shiraz is definitely lost in this one.  I wouldn't say it was as weird or "white" as the Angove, but there was just something a touch "off" - especially in the bitter and jarring aftertaste.  Now, with that said, my guest-tester and myself polished off the entire bottle.  We needed something to wash down that cheese ball! However, please heed my final warning: do NOT consume this wine in conjunction with chocolate. Vile. 

The other strange thing was despite its 14.5% alc./vol. content neither of us felt a good buzz after ingesting 1/2 the bottle each. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wolf Blass Premium: Week #45

Helpful Husband and I are celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary today - isn't that special?  So far I've gone for a run, done two loads of laundry, gotten grocerie, and gone to a High School graduation.  Our life of glamour and romance never ceases to amaze me and drive all those who know me into a jealous rage.  (Sorry about that, by the way). 

The good news is we bought bacon and scallops at the grocery store!  The bad news is we have no babysitter, so it looks like an evening of drinking in the living room.  Luckily, since it is a special occasion, I feel it acceptable to spend $30 on a bottle of Shiraz!  Even better is that is is my favorite brand, you all know it - the good old, dependable, trustworthy, hugs you when you're feeling down friend, WB (we're close enough to be on a nickname basis).  The thing is, I mean, can you imagine Wolf Blass tasting BETTER than it already does to justify a $10 price hike?  It boggles the mind!  Needless to say, my expectations are high with this bottle.

Wolf Blass Premium Selection - Australia, 2008
14.5% alc./vol.
$29.99
A word from the wine:
"Sourced from premium South Australian vineywards, the 2008 Premium Selection Shiraz is matured in a combination of American and French oak for sixteen months.  It delivers riper blueberry and plum characters while remaining well balanced, with supple fine tannins on the finish."
Wolf Blass is a class act.  It is all business on this label.  Don't mess around with the Wolf.

Oh Em Gee.  This is some seriously delicious wine.  There is just a hint of pepper on the finish, but just as the Yellow Label, its flavors melt together in a seamless transition.  But, this is a whole new level, the Premium goes down so incredibly easy...It's like silk, or velvet, or cashmere, or some other high-end textile.  And, let me tell you, it was effortless to drink - hence the empty bottle in the above photo.

Helpful Husband: "Holy Crap, that is smooth!"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

La Chamiza: Week #44

You know, I'm getting worried about this blog.  First of all, I neglect it something fierce.  I am really focused on drinking Mike's Hard Lemonade with my solid diet of BBQ.  There is just something about summer...

Secondly, I am really dwindling in my Shiraz supply.  I have one South African bottle left to review, maybe two or three Argentinians and perhaps one more Australian before I run out of options.  I don't think I have enough labels left to last to Week #52!  At least not ones I can afford.

La Chamiza - Argentina, 2010
14% alc./vol.
$12.00
A word from the wine:
"La Chamiza was, long ago, land of polo horses.  Today, because of the excellent qualities of this land, it is the place where out vines grow.  This Shiraz, spontaneous and vivacious like the Amateur Polo, is intense, exotic and has character."
At least its name doesn't have an Aboriginal origin.

I wouldn't call this bottle "intense" or "exotic" but it was a solid choice.  I enjoyed it with a few dinners, and it gave a good hit, so I can give it props there.  It was a really nice deep purple, and it had some body and taste to it, but it wasn't rich or remarkable.  It didn't have a strong enough finish, the taste evaporated immediately off the tongue taking all my saliva with it... to which one of my guest testers replied "you mean like licking deodorant?" - who are these people I associate with anyway?

More Guest Tester Reviews:
"It smells like grapes.  And, I like the way it makes my throat feel warm... like whiskey"
"Smooth and Delicious"
"It's okay, drinkable, but its missing something...fullness"

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jindalee: Week #43

The title rhymes.

Well, here I am on a Sunday writing the blog.  Impressive.  I did consume this wine last night, fulfilling the Saturday Shiraz mandate.  I feel confident that I can proceed from here with fewer interruptions in service. 

I have to admit, the selection process is not as exciting as it used to be.  It really isn't so much a "choice" as it is a "process of elimination."  Truly, I feel bad for the next ten bottles.  I have passed them by at least 42 times.  They haven't interested or tempted me before, and now they are forcing my hand - like sad gangly teenagers being picked last for a game of baseball.

Jindalee - Australia, 2009
$13.99
14% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"Representing the fruit of our labors, this wine bears the Jindalee 'circle' motif - an important symbol in local Aboriginal culture meaning 'fruit.'  Appropriately, these wines are intensely fruit driven, displaying rich, concentrated flavors and aromas."
Oh for the love of Aboriginals!  I don't think I can take nine more weeks of this.

This sad gangly kid isn't going to shock everyone by hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning and winning the game.  He isn't going to strike out either, but he is going to take four balls accept a walk.  So, to conclude this analogy, this wine doesn't suck, it is just lame.  Jindalee is not rich or smooth - in fact it is quite sharp, edging on bitter, and has little body. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "Not very good.  Drinkable, but young."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weeks #40, 41 & 42

Bad blogger.  I could make a list of all the excuses that have kept me from blogging, but that would be pretty lame.  So, here's the list:
1.  I have an iPhone4 - thus I have little desire to use my laptop.
2.  Once it was a sunny day after weeks of rain and I just wanted a Mike's Hard Lemonade.
3.  Babies with strep throat prevent you from doing pretty much anything.

So, today I make up for it by blogging about four wines (which, you'll notice, is actually one MORE than I owe myself- penance and all that.)  It is quite a mish-mash of Shiraz, and I hope I haven't deterred too many readers from checking in.

Homemade Shiraz-Cabernet
A few weeks ago, a friend gifted me a bottle of her dad's homemade Shiraz-Cabernet.  Normally, I try to avoid homemade wines, although there have been some I've enjoyed.  People often ask me why I don't make my own wine since I drink a lot, but I have zero interest.  I'd prefer to go to the store, pick out something with an interesting label and call it a day.  I don't need to be involved in the fermentation process.  Plus, what happens if you make a "batch" drink the first glass and declare it disgusting.  Then what?
I enjoyed a glass of this gifted wine with supper.  It was tasty enough.  And, it wasn't acidic or anything.  I found it to be much more Cabernet than Shiraz, but it was good (and free!).

Hardy's Shiraz-Cabernet-Sauvignon (Australia, 2010)
I had friends coming over for wine last night - one had bought me a bottle in the States (PS: Thanks! I'm loving all the gifted bottles.  Others take note).  But, we were having pasta for dinner and I wanted to have some Shiraz to go with, so I ran (figuratively) to the liquor store and found the cutest little plastic bottle of Shiraz-Cabernet-Sauvignon.  Like, seriously, look at it!  Isn't it sweet?

This little darling set me back $4.99 and is equal to about 2 glasses of wine.  When you twist the plastic covering, it turns into a classy plastic wine glass!  See?
I didn't drink out of it, but it would be great for camping or people who don't own dishwashers (or have helpful husbands).  The size would also be perfect for someone who is the lone wine-drinker in their home and can't polish off an entire bottle before it "turns" (I'm not friends with any people like that, but you never know who is reading).  Plus, I found it to be quite enjoyable.  I've reviewed a Hardy's wine before, but it was their more expensive label, Oomoo, and I just thought it was "okay" considering the price.  This blend was a better value for sure.  Of course, it didn't have any strong Shiraz characteristics, but it was a solid choice nonetheless.  And, with 14% alc./vol. I found my glass with dinner to pack a little punch!


Kanga Reserve (Australia, ????) 13% alc./vol.
How nice is it to have friends who, when they travel, seek out new and exciting Shiraz to donate to my worthy cause?  It's pretty nice.  Especially now that I'm down to the wire and the un-reviewed choices on the local liquor store shelves are dwindling. 
A word from the wine:
"Legend has it that explorers to Australia asked an Aborigine about the strange hopping animals they had seen.  He replied "kangaroo" meaning "I don't understand" your question, but thinking that was the animal's name, "kangaroo" came to be.
Legend has it that wine makers are obsessed with legends, animals and Aboriginal words. 

This was a drinkable wine.  It didn't really have any strong flavors, it's body was medium and it wasn't acidic.  The most I can say is that it was average.  Inoffensive, but nothing to write home (or on a blog) about.  But, when you consider the price of $3.99 (no, I didn't forget the 1) you can't really go wrong.  I will now draw your attention to the fact that I spent $4.99 on a tiny plastic bottle of wine in New Brunswick, while my friend spent a dollar less on an entire bottle in the States.  Seriously.  WTF?
Guest Tester #1: "It's nothing special"
Guest Tester #2: "It's like drinking grape juice, and it costs about the same too."


Billyrock Station (Australia, ????) 13.5% alc./vol.
My friend brought this interesting Shiraz to our girls' wine fest evening, and I'm glad she did - because the other bottle she brought was Banrock Station!  And she calls herself a devoted reader of this blog! (Maybe it was me that called her that).  But, really, I'm thinking this Billyrock Station must be the younger, hipper, cannier brother of the Banrock since the names are so similar.  I know you've all heard of wine in a box, but have you delved into the world of wine in a can?  If not, you're in for a special treat.  Check these puppies out:
A word from the wine:
"Billy says...'You will love the feel and smooth taste of this wine, with its lovely, deep rich red colour, it oozes opulence and style.  The wine is at its best served cool accompanying roast duck or chicken dishes.  It is also a good partner with strong, hard cheeses.'  Share with friends - but whatever."
Yes, style.  I can just see pulling out the cans of wine to accompany the roast duck at your next dinner party.

I have to admit, it was quite weird to crack open a can of wine.  I don't think wine should make that sound.  I did take two sips out of the can, but I just couldn't palate it that way.  It just seemed like something out of a can should be sweet and fizzy - of which this wine is neither (thankfully).  It was merely  psychological barrier, because once I poured it into a proper glass (and yes, it is a nice dark red!) it was actually very good.  I have to say it shocked me, but I really enjoyed this wine.  It was smooth and had just an edge of spice on the finish, but it wasn't overpowering or harsh.  Plus, it would travel well to pool parties.  Bonus.

Whoa.  Did anyone read all that mindless drivel?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rosemount: Week #39

It is so fitting that this is week #39 as I am headed to a friend's birthday celebration and she only has a few days left at age 39.  This week's selection has been calling my name since the beginning of this journey to alcoholism.  I never picked it up based on the price, although I did purchase a few bottles similar or slightly higher in price, and the fact that I try to switch from the Australian Shiraz to other nationalities every once in a while. 

This wine has a very attractive and sophisticated look - the bottle goes from the usual round at the neck and transforms on the way down, gradually flattening the sides, and created a diamond shaped base.  Hence the "diamond label" branding.  It was also featured on Hell's Kitchen last season, which leads me to believe it must be reputable as Chef Ramsay seems just as unlikely to put up with bullshit in people, food or wine.  At least that is what reality TV has taught me.

So, what led me to pick it up this week?  A SALE of course!  Save $3, bringing the usual price from $17.99 down to the more reasonable $14.99.  Also, all the other Rosemount varieties had a neck-tag stating "Rosemount: Not just Shiraz!" - which, with my powerful skills of deduction, leads me to infer that they are well-known for their well-liked Shiraz.  Bonus. 

Rosemount (Australia, 2009)
$17.99
13.5% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
You know what is really interesting about this wine?  It has NO label notes.  Like, zero.  Aside from the generic "contain sulphates"  and "drink responsibly" there is no specific or personal narration, pairing suggestions or tasting notes.  I'm hoping that they believe the wine will speak for itself, or it is so good it requires no introduction.

I liked this one.  I'm not sure it is worth its full price when Wolf Blass Yellow Label sits very close by in the same price range, but it was still a very nice wine.  I think it is an approachable Shiraz for someone who is a bit shy of darker red wines, but at the same time, it has enough body and flavour to satisfy a regular red-wine lover.  Rosemount was very smooth and tasty, but it misses that hint of pepper that WB provides. 

I enjoyed two glasses of this wine at the birthday shindig, and I had several guest testers as well.  I'll only include two comments, because they are the only ones I can remember.  I did switch to "Smirgins" (Smirnoff Ice + a shot of gin) which were very tasty, but once people starting shooting tequila and B52s, I took a step back - the memory of my recent break up with Banrock Station is still too fresh a wound. 

Birthday "Girl" Guest Tester: "I'm going to taste this and then say something intelligent. *sip* Uhm.... huh.... uh... it's good?"
Guest Tester #2: "It isn't fizzy or fruity"


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pelee Island Winery: Week #38

Well.  What have I been doing?  Neglecting this blog seems to have become my primary obligation. I guess when I drink away from my house on Saturday, I find it very difficult to remember the blogging portion of the project.  So, today you get BOGO – except it is better than “buy one get one” because you get both of these reviews for FREE  Please read the following two reviews to accept this limited time offer.

Tonight is the infamous Supper Club.  Last Supper Club I got into a messy relationship with Banrock Station.  It was anything but pretty.  However, this edition of the S-Club will not be an extended version as there is a playoff game tonight - which most other members are attending.  It is my turn to host, but it will be an early evening - not much time to go overboard with a bottle of Shiraz.  Instead, I will sit on my couch with my laptop and HH will sit next to me with his, and we will independently sample a bottle and then he will mumble something unintelligible for me to make fun of.  At least that's the plan.

Tonight's selection is a first for Saturday Shiraz!  A gifted bottle from someone other than my socially awkward father!  For reals.  This wine was given to me from an actual reader of this blog - isn't that nice?  I hope this thoughtful reader's act of kindness will inspire generosity in the rest of you.  Actually, in the coming week's I will have the chance to review another gifted home-made bottle - so this month's selections are really shaping up!

Pelee Island Winery - Canada, 2005
13%alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"The long and hot growing conditions of the Island have produced a dry tannic red wine, while aging for 15 months in classic oak barrels has enhanced the blackcurrant fruit flavor and the long smoky finish.  This solid red wine is best served in a large glass at 17 degrees Celsius."
Well, that was very specific.  I will adhere to the large glass advisory, but cannot guarantee the temperature. I find the claims of dryness, oak and blackcurrant to be very promising!

 Yummers.  This is a perfect Shiraz - smooth, dry and with just the right amount of zing.  It had a great scent, good body and that slight peppery taste.  Honestly, it was just TOO easy to drink.  Where can I find this dear reader??

Helpful Husband Tip: "Smooth, it's delicious.  I'm drunk.  I like bacon-wrapped scallops."

Two Oceans:Week #37

The biggest problem with procrastinating is that I forget things easily.  Like, I’m not sure which wine I ingested last week.  Luckily, I did take a picture, so that should jog my memory.  But, I didn’t write down the label notes.  I went down to the basement to search through the empties, and while I can find bottles from months ago, I can’t find last week’s.  And, every time I think I’ve found a bottle, it turns out to be a HH beer bottle.  When I signed up for this project, I didn’t really envision myself picking through my own garbage.  Contrary to popular belief, blogging is anything but glamorous. 

Last week I picked up a bottle of Two Oceans Shiraz and brought it to a friend’s house for a quiet girl’s evening after a busy day of fundraising for the bigger kid’s preschool.  It also turned out to be a sneak-craft-attack and I had to sit idly by while my friends “altered” a canvas - whatever that means! But, I had wine and a Cadbury Crème egg, so I was happy. 

Two Oceans - South Africa, 2009
13.5% alc./vol.
$11.99
A word from the wine:
"The warm Indian Ocean and the cold Atlantic Ocean converge and create coll breezes that slow the ripening of the grapes and intensify the pure fruit flavors of our wine"
Now, I find this to be an interesting theory.  I like the whole "oceans converging" idea.  But, I'm not sure on intensifying the fruit flavors as those as my least favorite of the flavor families.

This wine was definitely lacking body and smoothness.  The taste was bland, tolerable, but I did find the after-taste to bit quite jarring.  It wasn’t awful – I finished my glass, but it definitely left something to be desired.  I don’t think I’ve been wooed by many wines of South African descent.  

Guest Tester #1: It smells like a permanent marker.
Guest Tester #2: It tastes like burning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Jacob's Creek Rose: Week #36

Welcome to the special Easter Sunday edition of Saturday Shiraz.  I bought a bottle yesterday - even entrusted the Helpful Husband to venture out solo to the liquor store.  Thankfully I am at a point in this journey where I pretty well know the names of all the "un-blogged" bottles of Shiraz remaining at our local liquor store, so I can send him out with a particular brand and be somewhat assured that he will return with it. 

But, alas, once I arrived at my parents' house for Easter dinner, I noticed I had "conveniently" forgot the bottle of Shiraz at home.  Luckily, my dad had this strange and awkward bottle of Shiraz Rose laying around and we decided it was probably a good match for the turkey (and the label notes agreed!). 

Jacob's Creek Shiraz Rose - Australia 2007
13% alc./vol.
(Free to me)
A word from the wine
"This Shiraz Rose style is lighter in weight and boasts lots of fresh berry aromas and spicy flavors. At our place we enjoy it chilled with pasta, seafood and poultry, and while relaxing with friends."
Hmmm... chilled, eh?  I don't think I like where this is headed.

I thought this wine was an okay pairing for our turkey dinner.  But, it was still too close to white wine for me.  I found it to be quite fizzy, bordering on carbonated, almost like drinking a spritzer.  However, it wasn't sweet, which made less tolerable when viewed as a carbonated beverage, but more tolerable when seen as a wine. 

Helpful Husband: "Does it have alcohol?  I like it"
Dad: "It goes well with the turkey, but I don't think it is a real Rose"
Brother: "It's okay, but a bit acidic for my tastes"
Mom: "It's not as sweet as you would expect from a Rose"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

WB Eaglehawk: Week #35

So, whoops.  I forgot to post this.  I kept meaning to go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of the wine I sampled at the restaurant, but my big boy was sick all week and I never got the chance.  Sorry readers (aka my mom).  I will post this, and then tomorrow I will do a special "Easter Sunday Shiraz" edition of Saturday Shiraz.

Helpful Husband and I hit the town last Saturday night.  We had gift certificates to a local hotel and restaurant, and a Grandmother willing to babysit overnight.  Smell ya later kids! 

First stop was Billy's Seafood, where we enjoyed some bacon wrapped scallops and over-priced entrees. But, we also enjoyed some wine.  Of course, we paid $21 for a 1/2 litre (check out the bottle's price below), but when in Rome and all that crap.

Wolf Blass Eaglehawk (Australia)
$13.49

This picture was taken at the restaurant- very discretely due to extreme embarrassment.  Helpful Husband is in the background flexing for the picture.  But, the joke is on him because the wine glass makes his puny bicep even tinier.
This picture was taken, very discretely, again due to embarrassment, while my mother and I were creeping the liquor store before the town-wide Easter egg hunt.  (It was freakin' cold and we needed shelter and warmth.... plus there were free samples.)  I would have bought the bottle, but I didn't have my wallet with me. 

A word from the wine:
All I remember reading from the label (while I was in the liquor store) was that the name Eaglehawk was derived from one of WB's first vineyards, which he named "Bilyara" - the aboriginal word for "Eaglehawk." 
I really hope winemakers realize how unoriginal this whole "aboriginal word as inspiration" is. 

This wine was delicious.  I enjoyed each and every overly expensive sip.  I think it lives up to the Wolf Blass name and is very comparable to the slightly more expensive Yellow Label - smooth, easy drinking and tasty. 

We also ventured to Happinez wine bar, but alas, the only Shiraz they had that evening (per glass) was Angove, that weird wine that looks red but tastes white.  There was a $99 bottle of Shiraz in the cellar though.  YIKES-O-RAMA!!  Maybe for week #52... but what happens if you spend that much on a bottle and it is disappointing?  In either case, I enjoyed a glass of La Casona for $6 - it wasn't Shiraz, but it was yummy. 


Sunday, April 10, 2011

French Cross: Week #34

I have to admit - I didn't feel much like drinking red wine today.  I guess I'm still traumatized from last week's experience with Banrock Station.  Plus, I feel bad for any wine chosen to be the rebound in this sick relationship.  I mean, what chance does this week's selection really have?  It will only serve its purpose of getting me back on the wagon, and then it will no doubt be cast aside, never to be chosen again.  For this reason, I plan on bringing this wine to Family Dinner to have some non-bias input added to the review - it is only fair to the wine (I'll update with their comments later).

This week I have chosen French Cross.  I didn't want to pick something expensive, since I know I'm not really up to enjoying it.  This is the last Canadian bottle of Shiraz (that I haven't reviewed - I didn't clean them out!...yet) at my local liquor store.  It was on sale (a whole $0.50!!!) and I had wanted to buy it while in PEI since it was available in tetra pack there.

French Cross (Canada - no date)
$9.99
13% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"This dry, medium bodied Shiraz is vinted with carefully selected grapes from some of the finest vineyards in Canada and around the world.  Flavors of black cherry and a hint of spice are enhanced by rich red fruit aromas."
Carefully selected?  Or picked out of the other vineyards' dumpsters? 

No thanks.  Just no.  I will say that the aroma of this wine was very appealing - I did note that upon removing the cork.  However, I also noted that the color was very transparent for a red wine; a bit too much light shines through this to end well.  I'm not even sure how to approach the taste - it was thin, and vinegary, and just generally taste-less.  You know what is weird?  The dimple on the bottom is pretty deep for a $10 bottle.

Helpful Husband Tip: "I'm sure it's fine *sip* Oh, maybe not."

My mom & brother did not find it too bad - which surprised me... especially the brother factor.  So, maybe I am on the rebound.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Banrock Station: Week #33

Banrock Station (Australia, 2008)
13.5% alc./vol.
$12.99

A word from the wine:
"For over 10 years we have proudly supported projects that include Atlantic Salmon recovery in Canada, flamingo protection in Kenya, wetland restoration, climate change research and water saving initiatives"
I figured since I used to work in Atlantic Salmon conservation and my husband has trouble identifying flamingoes that this wine was a good choice.


Dear Banrock Station,

When I first laid eyes on you, I knew in my heart that we could be friends.  You're from Australia, and I love Australians.  You had interesting label notes, and I fell in love with your understated yet sophisticated styling.  You tasted great and I was ready for a good time.  You were easy drinking.  Too easy.  And for that reason, I am sorry to say that I just don't think this relationship can move forward.

This has nothing to do with you.  You're great, really you are.  In fact, that is why I couldn't control myself around you.  It's just that the timing wasn't right.  I was out with friends (bad influences) and my kids were safely at home in bed - I felt free.  Too free.  No one else was drinking you - I had you all to myself.  I took all of you and I gave you nothing in return.  I'm thinking of what is right for you in this situation.  You deserve better.  I'm not the right person for you, and I don't like the person I became when I was around you.  I should have taken our relationship more slowly - given us time to get to know each other.  But, you've already seen this dark side of me, and it is too late to turn back now.

Please don't take it personally when you see me in the liquor store and I walk past your display without even a second glance.  I don't trust myself.  We can't be friends.  In another world, another time, we would have been perfect for each other.  But here and now, we just aren't meant to be together.  Don't worry - you won't sit on the shelf for long.  You'll find someone new to pick you up, and hopefully they will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.  They'll drink you one glass at a time - one night you'll have dinner, the next maybe watch a movie or enjoy an evening on the patio.  They won't abuse you the way I did. 

I'm sorry it had to end this way.

Deepest Regrets,

Saturday Shiraz

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Obikwa: Week #32

Anyone remember back to Week #15 when I foolishly sent Helpful Husband to the liquor store and tried in vain to communicate a proper wine selection with him via cellphone?  That was the day he ignored his wino wife's suggestions and came home with something completely unwanted.  Oh wait.  There have been many days where that has happened - and not just in regards to wine. 

***FLASHBACK TO WEEK #15***
Now, the final decision was hard because there were three wines to pick from, and one was on sale, another had a “cave-like drawing of an ostrich or a flamingo” (he really is helpful, isn’t he?), and the other had a lizard on the label and 14.5% alc./vol.  But, the bird-like design label mystery was too gripping for me to abandon and I had to see it with my own eyes.  The decision was made; husband hung up the phone.

He arrived home.  I eagerly pulled the bottle from the bag, enthusiastically awaiting the moment of bird-discovery when I could ream my husband for his stupidity over what is so clearly a penguin, but to my surprise it is a lizard that greets me from the label.  WTF?  I search my memory for the error – right, I had hung up the phone and left my ever so helpful husband without supervision on his way to the check-out counter = mistake.  Left to his own devices, he, of course, made small talk with the cashier, who, of course, is a Shiraz drinker himself (sure) and didn’t recommend the elusive ostrich-flamingo wine and confused my poor easily lead husband with shiny bottles and tales about how many feet above sea-level the grapes were harvested.


This week's selection sets out to solve a bird-identity mystery 17 weeks in the making.


Obikwa (South Africa, 2009)
$11.49
13.5% alc./vol.
So, what's your vote?  Ostrich?  Flamingo? Seagull?

A word from the wine:
"Taking its name from one of South Africa's earliest peoples, this Obikwa wine pays tribute to the adventurous Obikwa people and the ostrich, their trusty companion with its extraordinary long neck.  For the adventurous lover of life and wine looking for something different; Obikwa's easy-drinking, quality new world wine is the perfect choice for you"
Well, that certainly answers THAT question.  Helpful husbands everywhere take note - the label offers the answers you are seeking! And, I have to say, I never really considered the ostrich a "trusty" companion, but I will take note of that in case I ever find myself needing a loyal associate from the animal kingdom.  I guess they'll stick their neck out for you!  (Ostrich joke #1).  I quite liked these label notes - one of my favorite so far (next to Little Penguin from Week #3 and Black Swan from Week #2) - I like it when the label actually speaks to me; it takes charge and tells me it is the perfect choice.  Direct and bossy.  Sound like anyone you know?

I am glad the label inspired so much excitement because the wine within is not generating much enthusiasm.  This wine is average - it's drinkable and inoffensive.  It is pretty "thin," but it is a bit tangy and somewhat dry, which is the only thing that saves it from being exiled to the DL.  Still, despite the fun label notes and cheery yellow tones on the label, when it comes right down to it, you just can't trust an ostrich.  You could have an important wine tasting and they'll have their heads stuck in the sand (#2). 

No Helpful Husband Tip - I drank alone tonight.  While watching Storage Wars.  And writing a blog.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lindeman's: Week #31

Ah - back on track. 

I was at the grocery store on Friday and decided to go ahead and grab a bottle of Shiraz while there.  The cashier was a young over-zealous man whose life long dream was to help me choose my wine.  Unfortunately for him, I do not like to be guided or observed during my selection process.  I politely declined his assistance, but he persisted by giving me a run-down on which wines were on sale.  Now, you might think, "That's nice - Saturday Shiraz loves a bargain!" - and I do, but the thing is... there are big highlighted sale tags under the sale bottles and my vision is pretty good.  I thanked Captain Obvious and notified him that I was looking for a Shiraz and you know what he enthusiastically recommended?  Angove - the weird white wine masquerading as a red reviewed in Week #20!  Those of you who have studied and memorized my every post will recall that Helpful Husband was lead to this choice by a salesperson - obviously the same dude.  Does he get commission tricking people into drinking that strange concoction?  Or does he just have bad taste?  Either way, I told him I'd tried it and it was "interesting" and he left me alone.

I chose Lindeman's based on a recommendation from a close friend.  Then I came home with all intentions of saving it for Saturday.  But, you know what happened?  The power went out.  Then it got dark.  So, we watched Bob the Builder on the laptop and the kids went to bed.  Did you know the Internet doesn't work when the power is out?  Did you also know there are no games on my laptop?  So, we played cribbage by candlelight.  Then I came to the realization that Reality TV is much more interesting than actual reality, so I poured a glass of wine and read Jerk, California (Big Rothesay Read shout out!) by flashlight.  And, in a sign from a higher power to stop drinking, the electricity returned as I finished my first glass. 

Lindeman's Bin 50 (Australia, 2010)
$13.49
13.5% alc/vol.

Normally I place the wine under a bright light or near a window because the bottles don't photograph well with flash.  But, the power was out and the sun had set, so my hands were tied.  Plus, it is really hard to take a picture of something that you can't actually SEE. 

A word from the wine:
"Bin Series' wines are named after the traditional wine cellar where our finest wines were allocated a unique "bin number" after each vintage to ensure consistent quality.  Screwcaps are used to guarantee freshness"
How does a bin number ensure consistent quality?  And why are we reading about screw caps on the label?  Don't they have anything better to mention?  And, yes, this was the ENTIRE label note.

You know, I was pleasantly surprised by this wine.  I had my reservations about a wine that claimed a bin number for each "vintage" when the bottle is only a year old.  And, not that I don't trust my friend who recommended it (she's my youngest son's godmother after all), but she is usually a white wine drinker and I am always suspicious of people who prefer white to red.  But, this wine was really tasty!  It was nice and dry with no jarring aftertaste.  It's been a few weeks since something ended up on the regular rotation list, and I just met the newest entry. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "I like it fine"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Week #30: The Week with no Wine

I thought I could get away with not posting and no one would notice.  But, someone noticed AND made a comment.  And you know how I respect and covet the comments - so I feel obligated to respond.  (PS: The commenter was probably my mom)

There was no wine drinking in my house this past Saturday... it was a sad and sober night.  I have recently had surgery and have read that it is best to avoid alcohol for three weeks in order to avoid a case of horrendous unstoppable itching.  Now, I freely admit that this may be a case of Internet-induced hypochondriac hysteria, but I'd really like my drinking to remain a positive experience, so I have abstained.  You might be thinking, "Three WEEKS without an update!!  How will I make drinking decisions without the inspirational leadership of Saturday Shiraz?  What will motivate me to get out of bed on Sunday mornings?"

Fear not.

I planned ahead... I, for the sake of the greater good, did my homework in advance.  In fact, the last two entries that have entertained and enthralled you were written weeks ago!  Unfortunately, I did not get my surgery date too far in advance and even a lush like myself can only do so much weekday drinking to write ahead.  Hence the Week #30 gap.  A blemish on the otherwise near-perfect record of this blog.  For this, I apologize.  It is a disappointment to think that I can't even achieve the goal of drinking every Saturday - it is no wonder I give up on much more difficult tasks (like giving up Junior Mints for 48hours). 

I will make up for it.  Actually, I already did because WAY back on Week #4, I was a keener and reviewed two wines in one night!  So, maybe I AM still awesome.  The point is, there will be 52 reviews when this blog is all said and done. 

Week #31 will see the return of of my drinking responsibilities.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cookoothama: Week #29

This is final entry in the "Wine purchased in PEI" segment of Saturday Shiraz.

I really hesitated in choosing an Australian wine in PEI, as there are SO many still to choose from at my local liqour store, but I saw a few new ones and I just cannot seem to refrain from the temptation of an Australian Shiraz.

Cookoothama - Australia, 2008
14.5% alc./vol (that's more like it!)
$17.00 (approx.)
A word from the wine:
"Cookoothama (cook-a-tharma) is the name of the Nugan family's vineyard on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River.  It is the original name of this property before the vineyards were planted and is the aboriginal word meaning "fertile land."  Appealing aromas of plum layered with dark chocolate and spice."
Wine teaches me a lot of aboriginal words.

Hmmm... I really wanted to LOVE this one.  Maybe it was the high expectations, or maybe it was the head-cold induced stuffy nose, but I found it to be a bit sharp.  The flavor was good, but it just wasn't as smooth as I hoped it would be.  It was still a good, solid, Shiraz, though - and you know what?  I'm certainly feeling good after two glasses!

Helpful Husband had some intelligent comment, but I quickly forgot what it was.  Sorry, helpful husband... your dumb comments are just so much easier to remember!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Laboure-Roi: Week #28

This week is the second of three selections chosen at a "foreign" liquor store (PEI).  I picked this one as it was cost-effective and from France.  I've only reviewed one other French wine (Fat Bastard) and it did not go well.  I'm not against trying another, but have been unable to find a suitable bottle at my local store. 

Labroure-Roi - France, 2007
12% alc./vol (WTH?)
$12.00 (approx.)

A word from the wine:
"Particular varietal from the Rhone Valley.  Intense purple colour, this wine shows spicy and fruity aromas.  Fruity and easy to drink.  Ideal with all meals, especially chicken meat and cheeses."
Anyone else think this is redundant and uninformative?

For a 2007 bottle, I thought this wine did not live up to snuff.  First of all, the cork broke as I was removing it, which forced me to push it into the bottle in order to access the wine inside.  This action, of course, lead to there being little pieces of cork floating around in each glass I poured.  It was drinkable, but I found it to be a touch acidic instead of spicy.  It was also bland. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "I think its fine"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quinta S. Joao Batista: Week #27

This week I was in PEI for the weekend - and, of course, I ended up at a liquor store.  I actually didn't have a single drop of alcohol on my weekend trip, but I knew there was a good chance that the PEI liquor store would carry some brands of Shiraz not available to me at NB Liquor.  I'll tell you what: I realized the full extent of my obsession when I can walk around a liquor store and identify all the labels/brands that are available at home - even those that I have yet to sample. 

Here are some interesting facts about the liquor store I visited in PEI:
1.  There was wine on tap.  You select a popular (cheap) wine and pour your own into the container provided and pay by volume.
2.  There was wine in tetra-packs.  Yes, the packaging you have come to love in juice is now available for wine.  Classy.

I restrained myself to choosing only three bottles - there were a few more I would have liked to pick up, but even I have limits.

The first in this series will be shared with my husband on Valentine's Day (I realize that is a Monday, but I'm playing catch-up).  This bottle intrigued me with its dark and mysterious label and its origin.  I have yet to sample a Shiraz from Portugal, and I don't think my local liquor store even has a shelf devoted to the country.  The label has a subtle texture and the bottle has a nice deep dimple - so my expectations are high on this one.

Quinta S. Joao Batista  (Portugal, 2007)
$16.71 (+ tax & deposit - usually included in my price tag, but PEI is apparently different)
14% alc/vol.
A word from the wine:
"Sao Joao Batista is the name of Saint John the Baptist who led a movement of baptism, having baptized Jesus Christ."
I'm not usually religious, but I can make an exception for wine.

This wine was yummy - I quite enjoyed it and thought my helpful husband was attempting to pull one over on me when I asked for another glass and he said it was all gone.  I guess it is easy-drinking!  I found this one was richer and had a fuller body than others I have tried lately, and it still retained a good hint of spice. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "I have nothing left to say"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Balance: Week #26

It's week 26 - that means I'm half way through this alcoholic journey.  You know what they say, a journey of a thousand wines starts with one sip.  Or something like that.

Selection this week was serendipitous.  I had both boys with me in the liquor store, so the pressure was on.  When I saw the special "Available only at NB Liquor" sale display, I pounced and hoped there would be a Shiraz.  There was.  It was $9.99, had a fun purple elephant on it (balancing on a step stool no less!), and it is called Balance - what a better name for the wine marking the half-way point of Saturday Shiraz?  Plus, the label notes made me do a double take.  It is a blend (Pinotage Shiraz), but you can't have everything. 

Balance Pinotage Shiraz,  South Africa 2010
$9.99
13.5% alc/vol.
A word from the wine:
"Rewards with whiffs of French oak, luscious ripe banana and subtle berry flavours.  Pour a glass and we're sure you'll agree, Life is great!"
Wait, let's read that again.... BANANA??!??!? WTF??!?!?!  I'm not a big fan of fruity wines, but I couldn't resist this unusual tasting note.  However, the bananas & berries combined with the 2010 "vintage" year, plus the $9.99 price tag, in addition to the completely FLAT bottom of the bottle really lower my expectations for this wine.  I assume it will be gross, but interesting to taste - and since I have some unsuspecting guest testers at least the bottle should be empty.

I can't in good conscience recommend this wine - or really even attempt to describe its taste.  We could smell hint of banana, but not taste it.  The first few sips were tolerable, but cold, and once the coldness wore off, the taste became unforgivable.  It got worse with every sip.  I dumped the rest of my glass (sacrilege!), along with my fellow guest-testers, and then the hostess was forced to dump the remainder of the bottle after we left.  Luckily, another guest was thoughtful enough to bring Wolf Blass (Merlot) so the evening wasn't a total wash wine-wise (and it was great otherwise - lots of food and laughs).

Helpful Husband Tip: "I don't think it’s that bad - I'll finish your glass"
The man has a sickness.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hardy's Oomoo: Week #25

Earlier this week, I remembered that my brother & sister-in-law had given me a gift card to the liquor store for Christmas.  So, I decided that I would use it to its full potential and pick a more expensive bottle that normally I would be too frugal to purchase.  I have to say, that this week was the most enjoyable selection process to date - how fun to browse the aisles and purposely seek higher price tags!  I decided to stay in Australia, since the Autralian Shiraz can rarely be beat (the exception being Wally's Hut from week #12 ).  There were three bottles that fit the bill - but two were over my gift card value (one by $5 and the other by $10) and it's hard for me to be frivolous, so I sensibly chose the one that left me with a small balance on my card for next week.  Well, that and Oomoo is fun to say! 

Hardy's Oomoo (Australia, 2007)
$21.99
14% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"Back in the 1870's Thomas Hardy adopted the Aboriginal word Oomoo, meaning 'good' or 'attractive' for his post popular wines."
I think I will adopt the Aboriginal word Oomoo as well.

Well, this wine is oomoo - but I still have to say that I was underwhelmed.  Sure, it was a solid Shiraz - it tasted great and had a bit of pep - but there are other (cheaper) brands that I have preferred.  I was actually quite surprised that it wasn't full-bodied, rich or velvety as I expect a more expensive bottle to be.  Had I spent $12 on the bottle of wine, it may have ended up on the regular rotation, but I didn't and so it won't.  If you find yourself wanting to spend more than $15 on a bottle of Shiraz, save yourself the heartache of lonely disappointment and buy Wolf Blass.

I shared this bottle with a friend - and since the wine was still good and the company was great, I don't think my minor dissatisfaction affected the overall enjoyment of the evening.  Plus, there were tasty snacks!

Guest Tester: "When you pay more, you expect more"
Guest Tester's Helpful Husband: "Not bad"

I'm glad to see that all helpful husbands are equally descriptive.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stone Cellars: Week #24

This week we have another wine from California.  There was no selection process as this was yet another gift from my Dad - and this one wasn't even accompanied by a socially awkward note!  He simply handed it over after a sledding excursion.

Stone Cellars by Beringer (California, 2008)
14.99
13.5% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"Our Shiraz pops with vibrant fresh blackberry flavors with a hints of black plum and spice leading to a luscious, smooth finish"
Mmmmm... luscious.  And, I like the prospect of the wine popping.

You know, now that I am on week #24, I am thinking I should have taken better records of the tasting notes.  It might be good to know while I'm standing amid shelves of Shiraz whether I prefer a blackberry or black plum flavor.

Yummy - this is a great balance between smooth and spice.  It was nice and dry and easy to drink.  And, despite the 13.5alc./vol. I was definitely feeling my glass with supper - whoa.  I had actually planned on having a glass or two once the kids were in bed, but Helpful Husband was out playing poker and I didn't feel comfortable being in charge of sick children with this wine around.  Don't worry, I'll finish it up tomorrow!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Barefoot: Week #23

Last week I hit Spain for the first time in this Shiraz journey, so today I decided to visit another newbie: The United States (and, to be specific, California).  Of course I was also swayed by the low price and availability at the grocery liquor store, but those are minor details.  In fact, I have a canvas bag that advertises this particular brand - it has special pockets on the side to place wine bottles!  Actually, I'm pretty sure I stole it from my mother.  Hi Mom!  Thanks for the bag!

Barefoot (California - US, no date)
$10.99
13%alc./vol.

I guess you can tell that the bottle is half empty - perhaps that is the reason for the poor photography.
A word from the wine:
"Barefoot Shiraz is full of jammy, blackberry flavors and is velvety smooth. It's perfect with BBQ food, steaks, chicken, pasta with tomato sauces and pizza."
Usually, I just write an excerpt from the label notes, but this is the whole shebang.  Not a very exciting label in either words or graphics- I like the foot, but the orange doesn't do it for me.  The front of the bottle does proudly display a gold medal "2007 Grand Harvest Award" - but I'm not sure bragging about an award you won 3+ years ago is the way to go.

This wine was very casual, and with only 13%alc./vol. the tipsy factor was a tad lacking.  There was definitely no richness or length of finish, and I wouldn't describe it as "velvety smooth," BUT it was certainly peppery, which redeems it for me.  It almost felt prickly on the tongue, and I enjoyed that spicy sensation.  Good enough to share the spotlight with some yummy accompaniment (I had bacon wrapped scallops!), but not good enough to have a starring role.  Who am I kidding?  I never drink without eating.

Helpful Husband Comment: "Mmmm... bacon wrapped scallops"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Week #22

First of all, I appreciate the effort some readers extended into their comments.  Thank you.  As for the wine-suggestion (Wyndam's Bin 555 Shiraz) I have tasted it a few times before and a review is waiting to be published!  Please, keep the suggestions coming!!

I promised to steer clear of Australia this week.  My original plan was to make a quick run into the liquor store with the baby, head to the South African section and grab that elusive bird-themed label that Helpful Husband could not successfully distinguish as ostrich or flamingo (or follow through with purchasing either).  But, the baby had other plans.  He saw the cart. He wanted to get in the cart.  He wanted me to push him around in said cart.  Whateve.  I can handle perusing the wine aisles.  Baby might have issues later in life when he finds himself wandering the aisles of the liquor store searching for a nurturing motherly comfort, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

After some baby giggles and strange stares, I found myself in Spain.  Well, the Spain shelf - but this is as close to travel as I can get.  There were no straight-up bottles of Shiraz in Spain, but I did find three Shiraz blends.  I was intrigued by a bottle exhibiting the silhouette of a bull (the same logo was on a travel map my parents brought back from their vacation in Spain last year), but after reading the label notes, I was swayed by the word "vanilla."  I've noticed during my journey to alcoholism that I tend to really like wines that contain a hint of vanilla (I can't taste it - I only know it is there because the bottle tells me so).  So, here we have this week's selection:

Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Shiraz Tempranillo Carignan (Spain, 2008)
14% alc./vol.
$14.99
A word from the wine:
"Southern Spain is hot!  Well-bred reds like Mad Dogs & Englishmen can only be made in such an extreme climate with expert vineyard management and wine making. Try some...it won't bite!"
Okay, clearly I like that they included the lame "bite" pun.  I also appreciate the sudden exclamation about Spain's temperature.

I was surprised by this bottle of wine.  I guess my expectations were slightly low, and I was worried about the blend factor.  Upon first sip, only one word came to mind: dry - which is a positive in my book.  I was happy that although the Shiraz shared almost equal spotlight with the other two grape varieties (Shiraz = 34%, Tempranillo & Carignan = 33% each), there was definitely a good hint of that classic Shiraz pep.  I was also impressed by the high tipsy factor!  All in all, I think this is a solid choice - especially for something a bit different from the usual Shiraz. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "I don't know what to say"
He's clearly cracking under the pressure.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jacob's Creek: Week #21

Not much interesting to report about this week's selection process.  I was in the little liquor store and there were not many brands of Shiraz that I haven't yet tasted, so there was not much choice.  Basically, I picked up Jacob's Creek because it was the only mid-priced one I could find that was not a blend.  My interest was peaked by the appearance of a new Yellow Label reserve - but the helpful cashier informed me it would be $4off next week, so I decided to wait and save a few bucks.  Although, I think next week I will have to make a point to venture out of Australia - I've had three in a row now.... actually four if you count a yet-to-be-published-stock-piled review. 

In other news - during the last week of school, there was a present left in my mailbox from a "Secret Santa."  It was Shiraz chocolate!  Isn't that the most thoughtful and intriguing thing?  I thought it was pretty cool.  This week I decided to taste it.  Well, thank you Secret Santa, whoever you are, I really enjoyed opening and trying this unique treat - and it was so nice of you to see it and think of me!  I still have most of it left, if anyone else wants to give it a shot.  I can say, that while I love both Shiraz and chocolate, and while I've even enjoyed a glass of Shiraz with an assortment of chocolate treats, I think maybe they should never formally conjugate their relationship by becoming one entity ever again.  The chocolate tasted fruity, and I'm not into that - but some weirdos, like my mom, do.  So, if you are weird, you should try it!

Now to touch on another subject for a moment.  What the hell is up with the lack of comments?  I haven't had a single comment on any of my last four posts!!!  Does no one read this blog?  Does no one care?  Why don't some of the random readers from the UK, Croatia, or Indonesia post a comment?  Suggest a wine, stroke my ego, take me down a few notches or promote your own agenda.  Whatever - just say SOMETHING.  It doesn't even have to relate to my blog.

Jacob's Creek (Australia, 2007)
14% alc./vol.
$14.49

A word from the wine:
"With ripe blackberry and plum fruit flavours, the palate is medium bodied in structure, with good mid palate fruit sweetness and soft, velvety Shiraz tannins through to the finish."The truth is I forgot to record the info from this label and then my helpful husband gave all our empty wine bottles to his mom.  Sorry.

I liked this wine and enjoyed the whole bottle by myself (over the course of three days - a real sign of restraint).  It wasn't a favorite, but it was a basic, good Australian Shiraz.  I did find it a bit sharp - perhaps even a bit acidic, but not enough to turn me off it completely.  I liked that it had a good hint of pepper, and it packed a pretty good punch as far as the "tipsy" factor goes.  Though,  if I am going to spend $15 on a bottle of Shiraz, there are others I'd prefer to invest in. 

As previously mentioned, I didn't share this bottle with the helpful husband.  But, on the third day, I had him take a sip because I thought maybe the wine had "turned" after being opened for three days.
Helpful Husband Tip: "Seems fine to me"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Angove: Week #20

Wow - week 20!  I'm well on my way to becoming a card carrying member of AA. 

Helpful Husband picked this one out, and you know what that means: he spoke to a salesperson.  He highly recommended the Angove and said it was one he kept going back to.  It will be the first Shiraz blend that I will review on the blog.  Apparently it has "received a heart-warming tickle from the little known white Viognier grape" - so we'll see how that goes.

Angove: Shiraz Viognier (Australia, 2008)
$13.99
14.5% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"When fermented together the small amount of Viognier takes the Shiraz out of its comfort zone and into a whole new stratosphere... Careful oak maturation has allowed the two varieties to conjugate their relationship and emerge as one."
Finally!  Label notes that include a grape love story! These grapes are conjugating their relationship people - how beautiful is that?

This is the weirdest wine I have ever sent passed my lips.  Whoa.  It is like being served a grilled cheese sandwich, but having it taste like peanut butter.  This wine is a very deep red/purple color, but it smells and tastes like white wine.  I don't usually drink white wine, but I will say that the slight Shiraz (or at least red) element did redeem this wine for me.  I think it had an interesting taste that I wouldn't mind trying again, but it isn't a favorite by any means... maybe more of a conversation piece than an excellent wine.

Helpful Husband Tip: "Weird, and I don't know if I like it."
My brother also tasted this and commented: "Well, it is bizarre, but I think it is more hit than miss"