Rockford "Basket Press" Shiraz 2001

My partner had one sniff of this and said “Is this Port?” I had one sniff of that and said “Is that that crushed ants thing I’ve heard people talk about?” In short, this doesn’t smell at all like most red wines: there’s something different. There’s almost a varnish characteristic there as well; not unpleasant, but definitely not “correct” (if Yellow Tail ever shipped with that smell, they’d lose market share overnight).The color is a lovely cloudy ruby, not as dark as you see in Barossa Valley shiraz; it’s more reminiscent of Gallo Hearty Burgundy or canned sangria than anything. I’m not saying that pejoratively, by the way – it really is about that same soft, red velvet cupcake shade of red, and it’s beautiful.In the mouth, this is a medium to heavy bodied wine with a surprising line: at first, grilled toast, red berries, spice; then, it quickly moves on to a mid-palate sensation I can’t describe quite yet, and then it fans out into a soft, gentle, seemingly tannin-free finish that’s all black cherries. All the while there’s that same off note that presents itself on the nose, but I honestly don’t mind it; it makes it different than other wines, and I’m fine with that. There’s also good supporting acidity here, so even if the tannin seems to have gone missing somewhere between San Diego and South Australia, I don’t mind a bit.All in all, this is a rare treat for me. When my parents retired in 1998, they joined the Peace Corps and found themselves stationed in Moldova, a small Eastern European nation that used to be the great wine producing center of the USSR. Given the lack of any kind of modern technology there, most of their wines had similar characteristics to this one. Me, I find this styles to be utterly compelling and a welcome break from the everything’s fine school of winemakingthat’s the norm.If most wines are CDs, this one is vinyl.RockfordPrice: US $22 (tenth)Closure: Technical cork (!)Date tasted: April 2008

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