This month, our tasting was an effort to see how well Australian wines blended from multiple grapes stacked up to more conventional single varietal wines.
No one doubted the quality and richness of the Yalumba blend, receiving praise and first place votes from everyone at the table, and the second place wine was also a clear favorite for its texture and length.
First Place: Yalumba Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz The Signature 2001 (Barossa). Looks thick, with a perfumed nose of lavender, pepper, mint, eucalyptus, and flowers. Kristin felt that it "smells French", and Ali said, "I want to be in a field with it". Andy found notes of "Turkish spice", and decided that, "I want to shave with it". Rich, chewy, and intense on the palate, with blackberry, blueberry, smoke, and meat flavors. Andy felt that it was "like gristle on a steak". Long waves of espresso, crushed berries, and vanilla on the finish. David made a note to "have this on its own", and that it was "the real thing". Andy added that it was a "symphony". 60% Cab and 40% Shiraz. The unanimous favorite, everyone gave this their top rating. Received 24 points. David's wine. About $60.
Second Place: Peter Lehmann Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Clancy's 2003 (Barossa). Aromas of celery, green bell pepper, milk chocolate, cocoa powder, chalk, lavender, and cinnamon. Kristin found that it was "like primavera sauce". Pleasant silky texture, that is smooth and long. Plum, blackberry, and caramel flavors. Kristin noted "unsweetened iced tea". Finishes with a creamy vanilla flavor. Everyone gave this their second-place vote. 42% Shiraz, 41% Cab, and 17% Merlot. 16 points. Andy's bottle. About $15.
Third Place: Penfolds Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon Koonunga Hill 2006 (South Australia). Looking unfiltered, and smelling of tomatoes, plastic toy, Pez, dust, gasoline, cola, and prunes. Ali and Kristin found a strong skunk aroma that David and Andy couldn't detect. Ali decided that the nose was "essentially roadkill". Flat in the mouth, with charcoal, blackberry, licorice, espresso, apple juice, and rust flavors. Ali found that it was "less skunky with the paté". Vanilla on the finish. 78% Shiraz, and 22% Cab. 10 points. Ali's bottle. About $12.
Green Point Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Victoria). Tasters had plenty to say about this one, with Andy smelling "Welch's grape jelly", and "burning hair". Ali found "warm leather" and "overcooked meat", while Kristin noted "some kind of Chinese food", along with "Campbells tomato soup". Notes of raisins, flowers, and cherry Coke. On the palate, tasters found black pepper, ash, earthy spices, and candied fruit. Ali felt that there was "something artificial about it", along with "hangover breath". David decided that it was "not memorable". Short finish. 51% Cab, 49% Shiraz. Received 6 points. Kristin's bottle. About $19.