One more thing I love about K&L Wine Merchants? They keep a complete order history available at their Web site, which means I can see that I bought a bottle of the 2006 vintage of this wine in their Hollywood store on August 18, 2007. That’s damn cool. I bought it to share with friends at Mozza in LA; that was a memorable birthday lunch, although of the two wines I brought (the other was a 2002 Penfolds Bin 707 cabernet), the Blue-Eyed Boy wasn’t the one that charmed the sommelier.
Anyhow! Here we are again, back in Mollydooker territory. Once again: thank you to the kind folks at Mollydooker who generously sent this wine as a press sample. I’ll begin by noting that the bottle in front of me was opened last Saturday night – which means it’s been open for three days now, although screwcapped and in the fridge for most of that time – and that yes, I did in fact do the ‘Mollydooker Shake’ (not sure if that’s trademarked); the winery suggests that their wines are better after vigorously shaking the bottle to remove traces of nitrogen gas from the wine.
I’ll begin with a quick recap of the tasting group’s notes from Saturday night:
Mark: I like the color. But I’d prefer it with a lot more acidity to it. It’s a style of wine that I recognize… and no, I don’t like it.
Rex: Best wine of the evening so far, but the alcohol level is slightly overpowering Also, the label appeals to <redacted>. I like the wine but I’m troubled by the label.
JP: Trying to figure this out … It feels… thicker? (… than The Boxer shiraz – CP)
Roy: If the others are weaker, I like this one more, it’s got more of a body to it
Henry: Pepper… some cardboard? Lots of tannin for sure. Bitter espresso, smoky chocolate notes?
Me: I like the nose a lot… I feel like all of this wine was destined to go to Dallas. I really feel like the oak is getting in the way of this wine. It’s like it had gross makeup smeared all over the front of it.
Ouch. So: how do I feel about it now? Once again, the color is strikingly dark; it reminds me of flat Hansen’s All Natural Cola, or old-time sarsparailla county fair style (you know, the kind they serve in a metal mug). Kind of pretty. Again, the rim is ‘watery’ (read: this is unconscionably high in alcohol) with a brief twinge of much lighter cherry-red color there, which isn’t particularly anything at all – just thought I’d note it.
Do I still like the nose here? Hard to say. Whatever it was that I smelled Saturday night is fairly well subdued this Tuesday night; what I smell reminds me somewhat of renting a room in a not-often-visited hotel in the mountains, one old enough to have an actual cedar lined closet… that hasn’t been aired out recently. There seems to be some kind of oak here, which imparts a dry, solemn mustiness, but the “explodes in your mouth” (the Marquis’ words, not mine) fruit seems to be strangely somnolent here. Instead, you get a strangely confected, Turkish delight and watermelon bubble gum effect that frankly smells cheap, like perfume sold to tweens. Once again, I find that the alcohol is really getting in the way here; if there were less, it wouldn’t overwhelm the flavors so much, I think. Of course, given the success of Mollydooker and their wines, it’s eminently possible that folks really like the porty, prune-y aspect of this wine.
In terms of mouthfeel, this is much more coherent to me than the ’09 Gigglepot cabernet was. It’s still huge, rich, unctuous, and sweet (not from sugar, but from alcohol, I’m guessing), but the acidity is less shrill, sneaking in to the back palate and offering some respite from the huge-osity here. Tannins are present but discreetly so; they assist the finish with firmly grounded earthiness and are okay, but still slightly hard.
Ultimately, I once again have to say that I don’t really care for this wine. So what’s the problem? Without sounding completely ridiculous, my main problem is that the wine seems to be completely man-made without any kind of historical or terroir-based justification for its existence. More than anything, it exudes a fakeness that I have a really, really hard time dealing with. I’ve had monster Barossa shiraz from the likes of Chris Ringland (cf. First Class shiraz), and there was still a typicity and integrity there that seemed to have come from old vines and judicious use of oak). I’m an unabashed fan of California late harvest zinfandel, which is probably even more alcoholic than this, but again: that style of wine is historically grounded and you don’t have to do too much for it to happen in California (our weather occasionally makes it happen). But Syrah from the McLaren Vale arriving at this particular end point – massive, alcoholic, and fruity in a simple way – just strikes me as, well, wrong. It doesn’t work. For all of the fruit ripeness, alcohol, and sunshine, there’s simply something missing here.