Dominique Portet Shiraz 2002

Sadly, I only had one bottle of this left – and I opened it just now only to find that it was corked. Based on the previous bottles of this I’ve enjoyed over the years, though, I’ll leave this not-a-tasting-note up here as a reminder of the quality of the other bottles; this wine is a good example of New World wine made with a nod towards Old World sensibilities: it’s not over-oaked, not overly alcoholic, and yet hasn’t artificially been limited in its elevage so that it slavishly mimics Old World wines. Instead, what you get is a wine that walks the line between the two: fully ripe New World fruit, yet with earth and minerality (subtle, but it’s there). Even relatively soon after its release – a year or two, if memory serves – it had characteristics of older wines: a relatively flat, gracious palate with fine grained tannins and a rich nose of sweet brambly fruit.I’ll miss this stuff and hope to find more of it again in the future.Dominique Portet
Price: $20
Closure: Cork

White Box Heathcote Shiraz 2006

White Box apparently refers to a particular variety of eucalypt that exists in some numbers on the vineyard property. Being a design geek, I can’t help but reflect the label, far from encapsulating a “down home” environmental message, is stuck in a characterless aesthetic that would feel more at home on a Web site circa 1999. Am I the only person who thinks this?

Tar & Roses Heathcote Shiraz 2007

I bought this on the combined basis of a good write-up at the Wine Front site and my ongoing desire to spend less money on wine (it clocked in at a modest $15.20 at the local Dan Murphy’s). Ever in search of a bargain, we wine lovers. Let’s face it, though, wine is an expensive pastime. Sometimes I feel I’d be better off getting my kicks from composting or decoupage or, really, anything fundamentally inspired by recycling.

Happily, this Shiraz provides a lot of pleasure. There’s a lot going on in the glass and, if I were to provide a two word description (through brevity, for better or worse, isn’t one of my talents), it would be “well judged.” Everything clicks into place and feels right. It would seem overly calculated if it weren’t so tasty. The aroma profiles straddles sweet and savoury with aplomb, showing equal doses of sweet dark fruit, pepper, moist leafiness, minerality and bubble-gum oak. It’s hedonistic and inviting. As nice as it is, though, the palate takes things up a notch. Perhaps too much sweet fruit for my taste, but no-one could accuse this wine of lacking flavour. Medium bodied, this wine’s flavour registers early and flows elegantly to a mid palate awash with sweet fruit and savoury complexities. Delicious ripe blackberry takes over on the after palate and lingers through a satisfying finish. There’s something rather beguiling about the way this wine feels in the mouth. It’s elegant and beautifully supple and just tannic enough.

A bit of a fruit bomb, then, but just the wine to provide some relief after a hard day’s work. Drink now with comfort food and much pleasure.

Tar & Roses
Price: $A15.20
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: October 2008

Mount Ida Shiraz 2001

An older Shiraz from one of Australia’s more renowned regions for this variety, Heathcote in Victoria. This wine is, interestingly, sealed under Stelvin, which is somewhat unusual for red wines of this age. Although Mount Ida is a famous vineyard in Heathcote, I’m not especially familiar with its output, so this tasting was quite exploratory for me.

A savoury nose, some volatility, with earthy minerals, some astringent eucalyptus, roasted meats, slightly edgy oak. Far from a fruit bomb, this one. I find the nose complex and a little challenging in its angularity. 
The entry has good impact and delivers flavour early in the wine’s line. There are lots of distinct flavours here and, unusually for me, I found myself identifying a fair few. At last count, we have: pepper, sappy vanilla oak, some sweet leathery bottle age, dusty dark fruit, some cedar and slight ecualyptus character, plus a dash of sweet granite-like minerality. Phew. It’s medium bodied and presents its flavours assertively. It’s also curiously flat and almost cartoonish in its “surface level view” of flavour. The wine lacks a sense of depth and stuffing that, even in a lighter red, assures continued interest beyond any initial impact. So, despite a lot of qualities usually regarded as positive (complexity, intensity, distinctiveness) I wasn’t especially drawn to the wine’s flavour profile or structure. Fine tannins help the wine’s dry finish to linger well.
This wine (or perhaps this bottle) isn’t really my style, although some elements of the flavour profile (the minerality in particular) are pleasing. The other half loved it.
Mount Ida (Fosters)
Price: $A30
Closure: Stelvin
Date tasted: July 2008