Rhone-style Reds 


Red Bucket Cabernet Shiraz 2004 - There’s a liquor store near my house in Maryland called Pine Orchard Liquors.  The proprietor, whose name I don’t know, always has some interesting recommendations.  This past week, as I prepared for the Wino John family visit, purchasing three cases of wine for Easter weekend, I asked her if she had any low-priced red wine recommendations.  The above wine, which listed for $11.99 a bottle but which I received a 15% mixed case discount to bring it to $10.19, was a surprisingly great find.  The store’s proprietor said that this was ready to drink and it was.  A 60% Cabernet, 40% Shiraz blend from Australia, the wine had deep, complex tones, but appeared to be fully-developed.  For more info on the winery, go to http://www.longviewvineyard.com.au/.  WinoWally  April 5, 2007

Blackstone Winery Syrah $ (7.99)   This California Syrah has a friendly berry nose with hints of vanilla and toffee, but the wine serves a harsh finish that detracts from the otherwise enjoyable blueberry, black cherry and oak flavors.  

2003 Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz/Mourvedre $ (11.00)    If you are looking for fruit and spice with a firm backbone, moderate tannins and some length to the finish, all for eleven dollars, then red drinkers will enjoy this blend.  A little brother to the GSMs I so love from down under, this is a good value wine you can bring to friends and stands up well with red meat dishes.

2002 Ravenswood Shiraz $ (11.00)  The wine offers its fruit first and all the wine-related baggage as a tag along.  Spice and chocolate and ripe black cherry will make you enjoy this from the uncorking to the last sip.  

1998 Punters Corner Spartacus Reserve Shiraz $$$ (65.00)   Wow, the nose of spice and eucalyptus and tobacco greet you with a smile and handshake.  But be prepared, the finish has miles of tannins that should sleep for another few years.  The fruit is plentiful and ripe but the spiciness of this one makes me love it.  

2000 Fighting Flat Shiraz $ (15.00)    This one departs from the rich berry side of the Barossa shiraz and barrels head first into the peppery, spicy, eucalyptus side of the fruit.  Nice structure and a good finish makes this one a blanket on a cool autumn evening.  

2003 Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz $ (7.99)    This is a must drink for porches and late summer afternoons.  A find of dark fruit and an easy drinking style delivers an inexpensive wine to have fun with.  Spend the 100 dollars for the case and keep it around for one you want to open Thursday night in front of the TV or late Saturday before going out to dinner.

2001 Austin Vale Shiraz $ (8.99)     The wine offers up some black cherry and plum, but little at best.  Absent are the pleasant varietals characteristics associated with this grape and region.  OK, but nothing to excite the loins.  

2001 Echelon Syrah $ (11.99)   This wine continues to be a go to wine for me, I just think it offers a solid tasty wine at a reasonable price.  Keep this on hand for its luscious black fruits and spiciness.  

2002 Penfold Bin 2 $ (11.00)    A nice combination of Shiraz and Mourvedre which is a testament to the sum is better than the individual parts.  Nice fruit with a stiff backbone but approachable and complimentary to a helping of farfalle and shrimp in a pink champagne sauce.  

2003 Fire Fly Shiraz Night Harvest $ (7.49)   This is an impressive wine for under ten dollars.  It has a deep, bold flavor from black fruits, with a touch of mint and chocolate and tannins to keep this one for a few more months.  A great companion for a rainy day.  

2000 Trevor Mast’s Four Sisters Shiraz $ (11.99)   A great deal of wood and not much fruit fills the glass.

1999 Snoqualmie Columbia Valley Syrah $ (9.99)    No mercaptans here, just a solid showing from WA of the beauty and power of this grape.  You will taste blackberry, blueberry and chocolate in this one that finishes with a bit of spice.

2002 Peace Shiraz $ (11.00)    This one is great for the label and name, but the wine left me void of the struggle between fruit and character.  OK as a novelty but not one I would spend a lot of time searching out.

2000 Francis Coppola Diamond Series Syrah $ (10.99)     There are touches of raspberry and dark cherry with a hint of spice and wood, but it did not bring as much as many Aussie Shiraz do for the same price.  Not the Godfather of his offerings.

2002 Napa Ridge Winery Syrah $ (9.99)    This is a fun wine that can be kept around for those spur-of-the-moment friends dropping in as there is a nice dark fruit, and plenty of wood that gives this structure and balance.

2002 Black Swan Vineyards Shiraz $ (6.99)    Not a whole lot to this one but for the price, I will consume it.  There are some black cherry and pepper flavors, but don’t expect much of anything else.

2001 Boonaroo Shiraz-Cabernet $ (8.99)     Not a great one, it was OK for a Weds. night with nothing else to do, but other than the interesting name, the product delivers little.

2002 Wyndam Estates Bin 555 Shiraz $ (9.99)    A solid candidate for an enjoyable dark cherry, spice and jammy flavors.  I suggest you take this to your next bar-b-q.

2001 Canonbah Bridge Drought Reserve Shiraz $ (18.00)     The strain of hunting for water bares intense and concentrated fruit bringing great flavors and structure to the wine.  Find and taste this one.

1993 Ferrari-Carano Tresor Reserve $$$ (65.00)    This wine has a generous amount of luscious black fruits with well balanced acidity and a hint of wild mushroom and earthy tones.  A smooth finish with a diminished amount of tannins allows this one to be a fine wine.

2000 Ravenswood Icon $ (20.00)    Rhone blends are king in my book and this SGM from California is a marvelous wine to compliment a fruit and cheese platter or a nicely grilled NY strip.  

2002 Rosemount Estate Shiraz $ (8.99)   A solid performer with good spice, dark fruit and hints of chocolate make this a fun wine.  Nothing too heady, just a good value for the keeping.

2001 Thomas Mitchell Shiraz $ (11.00)   This smooth-drinking Aussie offers some fine plum and dark cherry flavors with a nice touch of chocolate.  A good everyday wine to enjoy while watching the big game on the tube or crunching down on tacos with friends.  

2001 Peter Lehmann Clancy $$ (26.00)    Yet again the virtues of blending show through in this Aussie red.  Like CSN at Woodstock, these grapes prove that the sum is better than the parts with ripe plum, rich black cherry, currant and a kiss of spice with a supple finish

2001 Qupe Syrah $ (17.99)    This is a wine I would drink everyday if I could.  Bob Lindquist is noted as one of CA’s original Rhone Rangers and puts out a quality wine with generous fruit and a classy spice with consistency and count-on quality.  

2000 Sterling Vintners Collection Shiraz $ (12.99)    That is their spelling on the label for this California Syrah.  Nice nose on this one with a spicy dark cherry flavor and a hint of toasted oak.  A pleasant wine for a Thursday night, but not really up to a special occasion.

2001 Covey Run Syrah $ (10.99)     This Washingtonian Wine has a pleasant dark berry fruit and hint of chocolate but lacks the muscle this grape can possess.  

2001 Crios de Susana Balbo 50% Syrah 50% Bonarda Mendoza $ (16.99)   The nose on this blend gives off a smoke and bacon bouquet which reminded me of passing the Caldwell dinner at 6AM on Sunday morning.  The taste gives good plum, tobacco and chocolate with a firm finish.

2001 Kirralaa Bushvine Shiraz $ (10.99)   This wine left me looking for the fruit and the terrior and the bouquet.  I know this is a crafted wine from Rosemount/Mondavi, but it left me looking for the flavor.  

2001 Penfolds Bin 2 $ (11.99)   This Aussie blend of 60% shiraz and 40% Mourvedre brings raspberry, black cherry and a smoky finish with mild tannins and an easy finish.   

2001 Evans & Tate Margaret River Shiraz $ (17.99)    This is a good plow horse Shiraz with cherry and dark spice but does not contain the impact at the finish to move this above an everyday quaffer.

2000 Robert’s Rock Shiraz/Malbec $ (11.99)    This 65/35 blend from South Africa comes as a boutique wine from the large wine corporation of KWV International.  The Malbec adds backbone and crunchiness to the cherry and plum flavors of the shiraz (though SA, they use the Aussie term). A fun look at grape blending for a table wine.

2000 Bulletin Place Shiraz $ (10.99)   A soft, easy-drinking style with dense color. A touch of oak, resting on dark berry fruits, with hints of chocolate and plumb.  

2000 Echelon Syrah $ (7.99)   This one delivers more for your money with plum, blueberry, chocolate and a velvety finish that can stand alone or complement a steak dinner.  Bring this to a friend’s house, they will be impressed with the quality and after they learn the price, they will realize what a smart person you are. 

2002 Goats Do Roam $ (8.99) There are raspberry and cherry flavors here with a bit more tannin and acid than comfortable for this medium-bodied, easy drinking wine.  If there is any around, find the 2000.

1999 Clos du Bois Shiraz $$ (38.00)   No, I didn’t make a faux pas.  Though Californian, they use the Aussie spelling.  This wine boasts a deep ruby color as evidenced when Wino Rich’s flailing hands knocked over his glass onto the crisp white linen tablecloth.  Good fruit, firm tannins and a delightful hint of chocolate.  

1999 Ravenswood Icon $ (22.00)   This blend of 73% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre and 11% Grenache starts off tight and needs to be coerced out.  Air is it’s friend and the great flavors of raspberry, plum, chocolate and a spicy finish make this a fun, easy drinking wine to enjoy on a Thursday or bring it to your friend's next party.  

1999 Canobah Bridge Reserve Shiraz $ (16.00)    If you are looking for an everyday drinking wine with dark cherry and plum, chocolate and eucalyptus, this one’s for you.  Though it fades quickly, it’s a good wine to accompany the grilled meats from the Bar-B.  

2000 McGuigan Shiraz Bin 2000 $ (11.99)   A deep purple color pours into your glass that gives way to a fruity, dark cherry, chocolate and earthy wine.  This could be a great everyday wine with plenty of flavor, mild tannins and an easy drinking personality.  

2000 Justin Syrah $ (20.00)    Too young to drink because the harsh tannins override any of the fruit that is in hiding.  Buy it, but let it rest for a year or two before consumption.

1997 Qupe Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Syrah $$ (47.00)    A mellow, fruit and spice-filled wine with dark berries and plum, smoke, cedar and a hint of mint.  This wine drinks well and was much more enjoyable than the 1998 I had earlier.  A great compeiment to grilled pork or pepper steak.  

1998 BPE Vineyards Leydens Vale Shiraz $ (11.00)    This wine needs to grow up a bit to play with the big boys.  There is a plum and raspberry flavor to this wine but it lacks length and is rough around the edges.  OK for having this one on a Thursday night by yourself, but limit it’s exposure if you are trying to dine with the boss.

2000 Morgan Cotes du Crow’s $ (15.99)   A pleasant tasting wine of plum and raspberry with a spicy nose and a bit of acidity, but its short finish is a disappointment.  I can’t believe I miss the French…

1999 Clos du Bois Shiraz $$ (38.00)   No, I didn’t make a faux pas.  Though Californian, they use the Aussie spelling.  This wine boasts a deep ruby color as evidenced when Wino Rich’s flailing hands knocked over his glass onto the crisp white linen tablecloth.  Good fruit, firm tannins and a delightful hint of chocolate.

1999 Nance Cabernet Franc $ (18.99)   This wine is like Mr. Tanner from the Harry Chapin song, it tries to make a stand on it’s own, but this critic thinks it’s best in it’s small shop in Ohio singing in his tailor shop.  Not enough character for my liking.

1999 Ravenswood Icon $ (22.00)   This blend of 73% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre and 11% Grenache starts off tight and needs to be coerced out.  Air is it’s friend and the great flavors of raspberry, plum, chocolate and a spicy finish make this a fun, easy drinking wine to enjoy on a Thursday or bring it to your friend's next party.

1998 BPE Vineyards Leydens Vale Shiraz $ (11.00)    This wine needs to grow up a bit to play with the big boys.  There is a plum and raspberry flavor to this wine but it lacks length and is rough around the edges.  OK for having this one on a Thursday night by yourself, but limit it’s exposure if you are trying to dine with the boss.

2000 Justin Syrah $ (20.00)    Too young to drink because the harsh tannins override any of the fruit that is in hiding.  Buy it, but let it rest for a year or two before consumption.

1997 Qupe Bien Nacido Hillside Estate Syrah $$ (47.00)    A mellow, fruit and spice-filled wine with dark berries and plum, smoke, cedar and a hint of mint.  This wine drinks well and was much more enjoyable than the 1998 I had earlier.  A great compeiment to grilled pork or pepper steak.

1999 Etim Tarragona-Falset Old Vines Unfiltered Grenache $ (9.99)   Frail and weak with hints of plum and herbs but it does not deliver the power and passion this Spanish grape usually provides.

2000 Echelon Syrah $ (7.99)   This one delivers more for your money with plum, blueberry, chocolate and a velvety finish that can stand alone or complement a steak dinner.  Bring this to a friend’s house, they will be impressed with the quality and after they learn the price, they will realize what a smart person you are. 

2002 Goats Do Roam $ (8.99) There are raspberry and cherry flavors here with a bit more tannin and acid than comfortable for this medium-bodied, easy drinking wine.  If there is any around, find the 2000.

2000 Alice White Shiraz $ (9.99)   This wine has a good amount of red fruits and a spiciness and woodsy finish.  Bring this one out for some duck confetti or grilled lamb.  

2000 E. Guigal Cote Du Rhone $ (9.99)     This is at the opposite end of the number one wine from E.  Though a small amount of fruit shows up, it doesn’t last long and leaves little impression on the senses.

2000 Montes Alpha Syrah $ (12.99)    This is Jethro Bodine in Armani, great window dressing, but short on class and finesse.  An attractive nose with an abundance of eucalyptus and chocolate, but a rather undignified harshness and little fruit.  Best served to a drunken crowd where it’s quantity not quality.  

2000 Tyrrell’s Old Winery Shiraz South Eastern Australia $ (6.99)  Prepare yourself for the mouth drying tannins of this wine.  If you can stay with it long enough, an earthy, herbaceous fruit and coffee flavor come to light.  The tannins will soften to reveal a pleasant drinking wine.  

1999 Jaboulet Hermitage Rouge, La Chapelle $$$ (70.00)  Rich, deep-intense color defines this full-bodied 100% Syrah based nectar.  Black fruit, bold chewy tannins, tar, smoke and spice.  A great match to the bold peppercorn pork roast.  

2000 Roseblum Chateau La Paws Cote du Bone Roan $ (10.00) California’s funny approach to Rhone Ranger’s wine, this blend just does not deliver the polish of the Southern Rhone Region.  Black cherry and currant dance through this glass, but there is little depth and a weak finish to this beverage.

Chateau Cabrieres Chateauneuf-du-Pape Prestige 1995 $ (12.99)    Thou shall not covet they neighbors goods, but this wine is a steal.  Robust, flavorful, fruity, spice, tobacco, black pepper, cassis, (shall I go on?), black cherry, and a punch of tannin to make this a keeper.  This is one of the reasons the Pope wanted to leave Rome.  

1999 La Crema Syrah $ (20.99) Though this is a product of the ever-expansive Kendall Jackson Holdings, this is a nice drinking fruity wine that is drinkable right now.  Chocolate, raspberry, dark cherry and black pepper in this wine is a delight for the red wine lover.

1999 Cave de Tain l’Hermitage Hermitage Rouge, Les Nobles Rives $$ (29.99)   Inky purple hue and the oaky nose greet you then you are impressed with the dark fruit flavors spiciness, chocolate and leather from this big bold wine.  A great compliment to game birds, venison or lamb in a mushroom demiglaze.

1996 Jade Mountain Mourvedre $ (14.99)   Don’t look for earth shattering depth or flavors in this bottle, remember this is a blending grape.  Unless you are a true Rhone and drink Bandol wines, you have only seen this as an enhancing grape.  Black cherry, and a spicy body dominate this cepage.

1999 Kangarilla Road Shiraz $$ (44.00 rest, 25.00 retail)    For big wine lovers, this one features a bunch of blackberry, mulberry, and black cherry, with an undertone of chocolate that gets in your face from the first sip.  A surly, spicy number for grilled meats with enough oak to smack your mouth up, bring this to the Bar-B or with veal chops or lamb shank.  

1998 La Crema Syrah $ (21.99)  This Burgundian winery in California that has medal-winning Chardonnays and Pinots has entered into the world of Rhone varietals.  Though this wine lacked the intensity in fruit and spice married to this grape, it showed better near the end.  A good bottle to drown your pain, but not much to put up against a rack of lamb.

1999 St. Hallett Gamekeeper’s Reserve Barossa $ (12.99)    The attitude and styling of this wine make it a soon-to-be Wino Bob Favorite.  This winery is turning into an Aussie Cult and the Gamekeeper’s Reserve is all about why I enjoy wine.  They made this blend from the traditional Rhone varietals of Grenache, Shiraz, and Mourvedre, but enhanced it with a touch of Portuguese Touriga (noted as a Port grape).  The winemakers feel that a blend brings depth and richness to a wine, overcoming the weaknesses of a single grape.  You will find, spice, eucalyptus, earthiness, dark cherry, pepper and a hint of floral dancing inside the bowl of your glass.  This is a fun casual wine that drinks better than the price might suggest  

1999 Samores Cote du Rhone $ 9.99   As a Rhone lover, this wine disappointed; there was little fruit, depth or spice.  Some Cotes are not created equal.   

2000 Fairview Goats Do Roam $ (8.99)   A spicy, cedar and dark cherry wine that brings a medium-bodied, flavorful drink to your palate.  The name says a great deal about the attitude and style of this wine, fun, easy-going, with a challenge that the Frogs are not the only ones to make a pleasant blend in the Southern Rhone style.  What’s next, Hermit’s Age?  

2000 Domaine De Saint-Antoine Costieres De Nines $ (11.99)    Light, fresh, fruit with a dry finish.  There is no sweetness in this, so keep away from those expecting this to be like a white zin.  Good complement to grilled fish, serve well chilled and in a red colored glass so your friends don’t think you’ve gone soft.

1998 Barwang Regional Selection Shiraz Coonawarra $ (24.99)    Who wouldn’t love a wine called BARWANG, that “swift moving bird” from Australia.  Oak lovers, this is for you from the vanilla and spicy cherry.  The taste is cloves and dark cherry and toasted oak.  This one will not tempt those lovers of soft and fleshy wines.  
2000 Louis Bernard Cotes-du-Rhone Village
$ 11.99   This wine shows a great deal of promise with ripe red fruits, spice, minerals and coffee aromas.  A nice wine to drink with friends or bring for dinner - especially grilled red meats.  

1998 Alvaro Palacios Les Terrasses $$ (40.00 rest.)   Alvaro Palacios brought the Rhone style wines and the French prices to this region and is making high quality stuff.  Flavorful, fruit-filled and long on the finish, this is a pleasurable wine from the cork to the punt.  This wine has the range to please a variety of foods with the bold fruits and subtle spice the wine delivers.  

1999 Domaine du Pesquier, Gigondas $$ (32.00 rest.)    Give me more, the nose had me anticipating a flavorful fruit-laden, spicy wine, but the taste was thin and short.  Drinking down to the punt did not alter the first impressions I got from this wine.  OK for quaffing or letting your crazy relatives ice down.

1997 Mystic Cliffs Shiraz $ (7.99)     Though it says Shiraz, this is from California.  The oak aging definitely brings distinction to this stainless steel fermented wine.  It shows nice blackberry, pepper and spicy overtones and a soft supple texture.  Drink this one for fun, but it will stand up well to a stew.  

1997 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz $ (12.00)   Deep ruby-purple liquid pours into your glass and the aromas of pepper, chocolate, and dark fruit greet your nose.  Mild tannins and medium body with a crisp finish invade your mouth.  

1998 Oxford Landing Shiraz $ (9.00)   A medium-bodied wine with dark cherry, tobacco, and a hint of dried herbs.  Light on the palate and on the finish.  

1998 Echelon Syrah  ? (Only had one glass at $6.00)   Full-bodied, deep rich red-purple, big bold and chewy immediately roll off my tongue.  Plenty of fruit, soft, sultry tannins and a hint of oak to top this off.  

1998 Cline Syrah $ (10.49)   A nice complement to the cheese, quiche, and fruit finger foods and a good lubricant for business discussions.  Firm fruit and mellow tannins went well in the clear plastic water glasses from which we drank.  Dark fruit, tobacco, spice and a hint of smoke.  

1998 Pariso Springs Syrah $$ (33.00 rest.)    Hold onto your hats, this is a tannin dominant wine that is not meant for the weak of heart. Don't get discouraged and bailout early, let this wine open up and show it's beauty.

1998 Turnbull Syrah $$ (45.00 rest.)   Smooth, full, with a great display of fruit and tannins, hints of tobacco, leather and dark fruits.  The finish was not long enough to make this a three, but it is right on the edge.  

1996 Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge, La Bernardine $$$ (38.00)   A wine befitting a Pope, this opulent, deep-ruby nectar is a delight.  Depth and lush fruit taunt the palette, intense, complex and classy.

1999 Smoking Loon Syrah $ (10.99)   Smooth and fruit-packed with a load of pepper aromas and black fruit.  A good everyday drinking wine, but not the length to bring this one higher on the scale

1998 E. Guigal Cotes-du-Rhone $ (11.00) As an everyday quaffing wine, this will do fine with nice fruit and spice flavors to match well with hard cheese, grilled duck or roasted leg of lamb.  This wine does not linger long enough on the palette, nor does it deliver the depth a Cotes-du-Rhone is capable of delivering.

1998 Mommessin Les Epices Chateauneuf du Pape $ (18.00) This is not worthy of the Pope’s new or old home, lacking character or backbone.  The wine was thin and weak, not delivering much more than a glass of colored water.

1998 Jacobs Creek Reserve Shiraz $ (15.00)   Loads of plum and dark fruits to fill your mouth.  Flavors of chocolate, pepper and spicy vanilla oak.    Drink this now, as long as you have several bottles tucked away. 

 

1996 Zaca Mesa Syrah $$ (33.00)   This wine is made from 80% Syrah and 20% Viognier and gives an exciting bouquet as a killer wine.  Loads of dark fruit, leather, and a hint of chocolate.  Unfortunately, this wine is lean on the palette and short on the finish.  Like Chinese food, this one left empty moments after consumption.

1998 Sobon Estate Syrah   Smooth selection of red and dark fruits with mild tannins and a silky finish.  Good weight on the palette with a touch of herbs.  

1997 Wynns Conawarra Estates Shiraz $ (12.00)   This wine contains all the appropriate elements to be a solid Shiraz.  The nose far outweighs the taste of this wine; there were pleasant aromas of chocolate and dark berries.  The spicy black pepper, dark fruit and French and American oak infused tannins do not yet work in a harmony to give this a better rating.

1998 Bonny Dune Le Cigare Volant $$ (48.00 rest.)    Lots of raspberry and red fruit flavors in this wine with a good backing of tannin to give this wine character.  A mild accent of wood and earthiness.

1998 Oxford Landing Limited Release Shiraz $ (11.00)   Deep rich purplish-red color decorates your glass with this medium-bodied Australian Red.  A chocolate and oak nose greets you as you swirl this plumy, jammy, spicy liquid in your mouth.  Dark fruit and tannin dance around your tongue making this wine one that can rest in the cellar for several years.  Great with the medium-rare Ostrich in a mushroom-cabernet reduction.

1999 Pariaso Springs Syrah $$ (38.00 rest.)   Full and firm with juicy black cherry and jammy blackberry.  Plenty of spices with a long supple finish denoting rosemary and thyme.  In New Jersey, restaurants seem to be the only source currently for this jewel.  

1999 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape $$$ (58.00 rest.)    Deep ruby cast and a medium-full body taunt you when this wine pours into the glass.  Red fruit, pepper, cedar-spice flavor greet your palette; this wine has a depth and length, which bring you back to the cellar for a second bottle.

1999 Domaine de la Deydiere Valreas Cuvee Maurice $ (13.99)   A fun wine with great Rhone style with plenty of Grenache to deliver flavors of cherry, cedar, tobacco and bitter chocolate.  Mild tannin gives this a backbone for several years to come.

1997 Chateau La Verrerie Bastide-Luberon $ (11.99)    Dark cherry, smooth finish and medium body describe this wine.  Earthy undertones and a good finish, but not a long lasting one.

1996 Chateau Maris Minervois $ (11.00)     This wine lacks the character and complexity a southern Rhone wine should contain.  A wall flower with little fruit and a nose that faded quickly.  Will not be in the cellar this winter  

1999 Canonbah Bridge $ (9.00) This Aussie blend of Shiraz/Grenache/Mourvedre displayed a spicy nose with cherry and cedar touches.  Not Big enough for what should have been delivered by these grapes, but a pleasant casual wine.  

1999 Black Opal Shiraz $ (9.99)    There is fruit buried underneath the harsh tannins in this wine.  Neither time, nor swirling was able to fully release the potential to bring this wine into a truly enjoyable experience.  Not the best example of a Shiraz from the land down under.  

2000 Rosemount Grenache/Shiraz $ (7.99)    For the price, this offers a generous amount of red fruit; spice, and mineral make this a palate pleasure.  55% Grenache and 45% Shiraz, this wine can be enjoyed sitting around chatting with friends or slicing into a spit cooked leg of lamb.  Not a wine to bring to a gourmet dinner, but a great casual wine with lots of value for your money.  

1999 Yellow Tail Shiraz $ 11.00    I usually love Aussie Shiraz, but this one did not do it for me.  The fruit was not as big and bold as I expected and the nose was muted.  This is not a stellar wine.  This wine also contained a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste.  

1999 Redbank Long Paddock $ (12.00)    This blend of 58% Shiraz and 42% Cabernet Sauvignon brings a richness and depth to your wine experience.  Firm and fruity this wine will drink now or sit for a couple more years in your cellar.  Blends are a favorite because of the fruit experience up front and then the change at the finish.

1998 Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles  $(8.99)    Cedar, pepper, fruit and change back from your 10 dollar bill, a winner in my humble opinion .

1996 Perrin Reserve Cotes-du-Rhone Rouge $ (9.50)    I like this wine for a bottle that drinks better than it’s price.  A rich spicy nose, medium-full body and fruit and cedar that make you enjoy the essence of the Rhone Valley.  

1999 Punters Corner Shiraz $$$ (74.50 rest.)    Deep purple, rich aroma and a low tannin, fruit-loaded wine will rattle your bones.  This wine is full of dark cherry, tobacco, chocolate and spice.  This wine is a treat that is not for everyday quaffing.  Coonawarra is a great region to drink wine from, and this is a special beverage.  Save this for a special occasion.  

1998 Justine Estate Syrah $ (20.00)   Deep ruby color, smoke and fruit nose and a pleasant jammy flavor.  Hints of tannin, and a gaminess of wild berries and beef jerky.  Drinkable now, but this is a wine that will last over the next several years.  

1998 Cote du Luberon Les Petite Tourettes $ (12.00)     This is red water, great for a hot summer day, with ice, when you want to appear like you are drinking an adult beverage.  Dangerously close to the category of white zin… I can’t even write the word.

1999 Syrah Paraiso Springs Vineyard, Mendocino $$ (25.00)      Generous fruit, deep dark hue and a lengthy, layered finish.  Enough tannin to lay this one down for several years, but a strong blackberry flavor to enjoy now.  Toasted vanilla, spice and a hint of chocolate make this a delight.  

 

1998 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Ruchets $$$ (65.00)     This is what made me fall in love with Rhone wines, power and grace with flavors and aromas that excite the senses.  Chocolate by the mouthful, dark berry fruit that is light in tannin, velvety and smooth with a long finish. Cedar brings a touch of spice to the palate. 

1998 Wyndham Estates Bin 555 Shiraz $ (8.99)   This is not a big powerful Cote Rotie, but it is a great wine for less than ten dollars.  Big, juicy, mouth-watering fruit with a hint of tannin to keep this one in the cellar if you like.  Plum and dark cherry and pepper greet your nose when you inhale from the chimney of your glass. Fifteen months in oak add a toasted bouquet.  This is a wine to surprise big red wine lovers with as the $8.99 bottle drinks like a $22.00 wine.  

1997 Grant Burge Barossa The Holy Trinity $$ (29.99)   Complex, bold, deep hue, rich, powerful, all describe this wine.  Peppers and cherries are the first of many aromas from this wine, followed by eucalyptus, dark cherry, like opening a drawer in your cherry furniture.  A bouquet of vanilla and wood come from the maturation in French oak Hogsheads.  A hint of acid and tannin tell me this will only benefit from a nap in the cellar.  A wine that can be impressive now or held onto for years of pleasure.

1998 Snoqualmie Vineyards Syrah $ (7.98)   Big fruit and drinkable now make this a fun wine for friends and guests.  Medium body with cherry and cassis.  It’s probably just me but I get the hint of cardboard or copy paper, mild tannins, and spice.  This is a wine for enjoyment that goes well with teriyaki roast pork.  

1996 Cline Cellars Cotes d’Oakley Vin Rouge $ (8.99)  A Rhone blend consisting of cepages 39% Carignane, 49% Mourvedre, 6% Alicante Bouschet, 2.5% Cinsault, 1% Grenache and about 2% Syrah.  Cherry and blackberry nose with rich fruit flavors in this complex wine with a mild aroma of herbs.  This wine drinks well but there is harshness to the back draft (the puff of air that shoots up your sinus cavity after swallowing the liquid).  For the price, this is a wine to keep around for hanging out in front of the TV in sweatpants and tee shirt with a friend.

1995 Peyre Rose Clos Syrah Leone ($? gift)   This syrah is rich and full bodied with complex aromas of spice and dark cherry.  The bouquet yields a smoky, woody structure.  Just enough astringency to keep this in the cellar for that special dinner in 2005.  A hit for those who love the taste of cherry cough syrup.

1995 Le Vieux Donjon Chateauneuf-du-Pape $$ (27.99)   Deep ruby in color and moderately full bodied; I had several strong earthen and fertilizer aromas in this one.  Good ripe fruits that were firm and peppery with tannin finish.  This one could stand to rest awhile in the decanter before placing in the glass.  Air is this wine's friend and as it opened, the tannins fell off and a richer spicy red fruit flavor appeared.

1998 Qupe Syrah Bien Nacido Reserve $$ (42.00)    The nose was fruity, but an overtone of toasted marshmallows turned the deep rich aroma of this wine into something less powerful than I was looking for.  Toasted wood flavors and that hint of sweetness sent this one lower on my scale than their lesser wine.  

1998 Barton & Guestier Cotes-Du-Rhone $ (10.99)    This wine lacked the nose and taste I look for in my Rhone’s.  There was little in the way of fruit or spice.  This wine was non-descript and there for will not be described.

1996 Peter Lehmann Shiraz $ (17.00)   This wine starts off tight and oaky, but as this wine softens in the glass, it reveals a mouth-filling, long, silky blackberry and chocolate wine with a hint of spice.  This is a great complement to the porterhouse steak with peppercorn sauce I enjoyed at Bacchus.  The story on the bottle and the artwork on the label make for a great read.   

1996 Hermitage Monier de la Sizeranne $$ (49.99)     Scents of eucalyptus and chocolate were dominant, but fertilizer and saddle leather also came to mind.  This wine was a deep rich fruit and eucalyptus.  This is a wine to treat yourself to and enjoy with a fire and snow (on the outside) and holiday lights.   

1997 Chateau Tahbilk Shiraz $ (13.00)   Meaty, animal, voluptuous.  This wine had weight and density and texture and chewiness.  This is a Rhone lover’s wine.  Smokey leather and blackberry fruit gave this wine its structure.  

1998 Greg Norman Estates Limestone Coast Shiraz $ (15.00)    This is a collaboration of the Golfing Great and the Mildara Blass Winery.  My understanding is that Greg tasted his way from east to west to discover the “best” wine in Aussieland.  This wine showed good potential, it took a while for the fruit to come forward.  I would let this open in the glass for a while before I tried this on, otherwise brace yourself for the tannin rush that presents itself at first.  

1998 Stone Haven Shiraz $ (11.00)   If you see this wine, run away.  This is not a syrah with any of the flavors or aroma of a beautiful, full bodied Rhone.  This was an imposture. I will try different wines for the good of the web site, but I do not have to finish the glass. 

J. Lohr Syrah $ (12.00)   This was enjoyable as it opened up.  A strong syrah aroma had me sniffing my glass frequently.  Although, this wine did not have the length and back draft to keep me interested in this as a "must have".  

1998 Penfold Bin 2 $ (9.99)   This blend is 75% Shiraz and 25% Mourvedre.  This is a big, bold, deep ruby wine with a strong aroma that makes your mouth water as you sniff the glass.  The weight of this full-bodied wine presses your tongue to the floor of your mouth.  The downer for this wine is that it’s tannins push out the flavor and leave you smacking your lips searching for saliva.  

1998 Parallel 45 Cote-du-Rhone $ (7.99)   A great value wine has the chewiness and body one wants from a Rhone.  The wine, for the price, is a good solid red that the majority will enjoy.  I got spice, I got body, I got the aroma of my humidor and the wine was good, too.  

1998 Stone Haven Shiraz $ (11.00)   If you see this wine, run away.  This is not a syrah with any of the flavors or aroma of a beautiful, full bodied Rhone.  This was an imposture.

 

J. Lohr Syrah $ (12.00)   This was enjoyable as it opened up.  A strong syrah aroma had me sniffing my glass frequently.  Although, this wine did not have the length and back draft to keep me interested in this as a "must have".  

 

1997 Bonny Doon Vineyards Le Cigare Volant $$ (26.00)   The blending of 40.2% Grenache, 39.5% Syrah, 13.6% Cinsault and 6.7% Mourvedre is like a symphony on your palette. The grapes in perfect harmony give the richest, deepest fruit flavors in the back draft.  

1998 Domaine Des Tours Vin de Pays de Vaucluse $ (7.49)  As the cork slid out of the bottle on this red Vin de Pays, the familiar scent of southern Rhone hit me immediately, the cedar nose of a good cigar box.    However, this was not the hearty wine of Chateauneuf or even a Cote du Rhone; this was light in color and watery to the taste.  There was no big finish to this blend of my favorite grapes (Syrah and Grenache).  

1997 Behrens & Hitchcock Syrah $$ (35.00)    Disappointing.  What else can I say.  No major fruit here, short finish and lighter in weight then expected.  The most impressive part of this wine for me was the blue synthetic cork.  I know what I like in a syrah and this was not it.  

1996 Joseph Phelps Le Mistral $ (20.00)      As a Rhone Blend, there is fruit and spice and complexity to this wine.  From the first taste, this wine was smooth, and flavorful.  

1994 Les Nobles River Hermitage $$ (though 54.00 at the restaurant- I guess this is a 30.00 bottle retail)     Rich fruit flavor, full chewy body, and a smooth finish put this Northern Rhone at the top of my list.  This wine gave a strong fruit aroma from the first swirl.  It warmed me in my stomach and showed strong jammy fruit from start to finish. 

1998 Lolonis Carignane $ (14.99)     Originating in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France, the Greek winemaking Lolonis brothers planted this in Redwood Valley, California.  This wine changed in the glass.  Unfortunately, it went from a fruity, smoky-cedar aroma and flavor, to a muted wine.  If the bottle held up like the first glass, this would have gotten 2.5 winos from me. 

1997 Chateau Cabrieres Chateuneuf du Pape $ (19.00)  From the first look at this wine in my glass, it had all I wanted; a rich deep color, a spicy nose and good legs.   This was a good value wine.  At less than 20 dollars, it had great fruit flavors, a peppery after-draft in the back of my throat, and a smooth finish.  

1997 Voss Shiraz $ (20.00)   Although the spelling hints of down under, this California Syrah was rough at first.  The tannins softened as the wine oxidized, but never to the “pounding intense fruit” boasted on the description.  This was good, but not great.  If the wine let more of the fruit come forward, it would have been a better bottle.  

1998 Castle Rock Rhone Series California Cuvee Syrah $ (9.99)   As the label correctly states,” the superb Syrah grape originated in the southern Rhone Valley of France.”  They go on to say, “ their wine is the most exciting Syrah to be introduced by a California Winery.”  The fruit was not rich and plum filled, jammy, bold or long lasting. 

1997 Cuvee de La Couthiet $ (12.00)  This wine, not being from one of the major regions of the northern Rhone, shows promise. It starts off harsh but mellows nicely in the glass with time.  The short fall is that it never becomes the rich, thick fruity wine of its sister regions.  An OK wine but not one to rave about.  

1997 Fess Parker Syrah $ (17.00)     I was not impressed with this Syrah, it was not the big full fruity impact wine I expected.  It drank thin and still had tannin, tannin everywhere from first sip through the end of the bottle.  Oxidation did little to bring the fruit forward in this wine.  

1997 Fife Latitude 39 $$ (32.00)  I liked this one better tan the Fife Max, which was another Rhone style from Fife.  This wine got better by the glass, but still needs time in the bottle.  A harsh back draft killed the fruit on this wine in the beginning.  This diminished over time but leads me to believe that in 2 more years, this will be a very pleasant wine.  

1994 Bon Terra Syrah $ (21.00)   This Northern California syrah had a nose that almost kept me from drinking it.  The initial aroma coming off the glass reminded me of dirty diapers.  I seriously thought of dumping this before the first sip.  The first sip had me somewhat disappointed also.  I let the glass sit for a while and came back to a very flavorful wine.  The tannin mellowed and the pepper-rich berry taste of syrah came racing through.  I enjoyed this wine more the second day as oxidation helped it to reach its full potential.  A great wine to enjoy with a grilled red meat dish.  

1996 BV Signet Ensemble $ (18.00)   Ladies and gentleman, just as you had given up hope that there were no  good wines from California under $20.00, look no further.  As the new wave in California is going, the Rhone blend surge is heading up and down the coast.  This wine, folks, is a winner. The fruit aroma and berry flavors make this wine drinkable NOW.  I call this a cross over wine, one that you can drink for fun with friends at $18.00, but has the body and legs to be a great compliment to a hearty dinner in the dining room.  This will be on my list of cellaring a case to be able to grab for those times when you are heading to someone’s home (a person you like).  Buy it, drink it, enjoy  

1997 The OJAI Vineyard Syrah $ (24.99)      Hold on to your hats, this is a winner!  The power of this wine is evident in the  statement that came from my brother-in-law sitting next to me at the dinner table, “That smells real fruity”.  Now that comment came as my glass sat breathing in front of my plate.  The aroma from this was full and rich and powerful enough for the guy next to me to enjoy it.  This wine was deep purple and soft and full and chewy and and and… I recommend this wine for all those full-bodied wine lovers.  This is not for the Chardonnay sippers in the crowd, they would not know how to swallow this one.  Rich and creamy, carrying the weight of heavy cream on your tongue, this is a gem of a wine.  

1997 McDowell Syrah $ (9.99)   For under 10.00 this was a good hearty, spicy, nosey syrah.  I had this as a compliment to teriyaki marinated London broil.  This wine is a best buy of the Dead Guy.  This showed a lot of blackberry fruit.  Don’t be afraid to buy it and bring to a friend’s house.  Buy it, drink it, and enjoy it….  

1996 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz $ (11.00)    This wine comes from the Barossa Valley and has roots back to the first plantings along the banks of Jacob’s creek in 1847.  This wine had a deep color and rich aroma, jammy and intense.  I finished this next to the fire as its deep fruit and low acidity made this a wine to serve again.  A very good value at 11.00, it is a wine you can bring to a guest party and not be embarrassed.  

1997 Qupe Syrah $ $(26.00)  This is NOT an Australian wine.  No, it comes from the up-and-coming part of California where the weather seems to make this grape thrive.  This wine started out harsh, with a bite and a higher than enjoyable acidity.  Then, it sat in my glass awhile, it oxidized and, low and behold, the beauty of this wine came through.  The fruit lasted a long time and the thick purple color and deep aroma sent me to that little place on Earth I like to call wine heaven.  By my second glass, I was becoming sad, sad in the fact that the other people at lunch were not going to leave me a third fill.  This I like.  If you can find the '97 grab it, the '98 is around, but too young.  

Madrigal Petite Syrah Napa Valley 1995 - The back label informs us that this wine was made from fifty-five year old head-trained vines.  Head-trained vines?  What the hell is that? Anyway, the wine is a deep, dark purple in color.  It's big enough to stand up to a spicy dinner but lacking some of the berry flavors that I enjoy in a Petite Syrah.  I don't remember the price (I don't remember a lot of things).  I'm guessing that this wine was priced in the low $20's.  I'd buy a few more bottles, so it can't be that bad.  87 points  JH - 3/16/00

1996 IO- Yes, folks that is the whole name. $$ (30.00)-  That, folks, is the best I can due for a half of a mouse.  This wine, patterned after the goddess who captivated Jupiter, needs some time to mellow.  Acid overtook the fruit through most of the taste as I sipped my first glass.  The Blue Cheese did compliment this wine well enough to give off the promise that time will bring this one to show.  This wine is composed of 64% Syrah, 19% Grenache and 17% Mourvedre.  More Grenache, less Mourvedre.   Who can even pronounce Mourvedre let alone want to drink it?  OK, but not one to write home about.

 

 


 

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