Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cork vs. Screwcap My Notes Part Two

Here are the rest of my tasting notes from the event.  For further explanation see previous two posts.
Yalumba Shiraz/Viognier 'Y' Series, South Australia 2006 - The Hill Smith family has made wine in the area for over 150 years.  Grapes for this wine (92% shiraz and 8% viognier) are co-fermented in the traditional northern Rhone style which results, counter intuitively, in a darker wine.  Viognier also lifts and intensifies the aromatically shy shiraz grapes.
Screwcap came first here and the wine delivered smoky oak and plenty of dark fruit.  It was tasty if a bit less exciting due to the presence of fine, gritty tannins.  The rest of the wines all featured real corks and this bottle was deeper on the nose with more vanilla and red fruits that followed through in the mouth.  However, the finish tailed off too soon and I found more obvious, pronounced tannin here.
d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz/Grenache, McLaren Vale 2004 - Made from old vines, some from the 19th Century, and traditionally produced - foot trodden (wearing waders), basket pressed and aged in oak for 18 (or is it 12? - inconsistent information available) months in new and used French and American oaks before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.  For more on McLaren Vale, see earlier Australian education posts, specifically Australian Education Part V .
Real cork helped produce a wine with deep color and a dark nose.  Slight mintiness only appeared on the aroma, for which I was grateful (my flirtation with that flavor profile has soured when it appears in the taste).  The palate was a bit short, even appearing pinched on the finish, like a spigot on full but a hose only letting out a few drips.  Some dirty tannin appeared on the finish but the overall impression of the wine was positive, if not glowing.  The screwcapped bottle exhibited brighter fruit, more red than black and less mint.  Overall the wine was much more solid and harmonious from front to back.
Jim Barry Lodge Hill Shiraz, Clare Valley 2005 - Jim Barry began producing wine in 1959 in the relatively cool Clare Valley, northeast of Barossa.  For more on this region, see Australian Education Part VI.  This property was purchased in 1977 and was planned to be a riesling vineyard, this wine was made from 100% estate-grown shiraz.
Despite my previous dismissal of mint, I liked this wine and it had plenty of it.  I thought the screwcap-finished version was the best of the tasting.  The deep complexity of the wine foretold the structure to come.  Well made, well balanced, the star of the night.  Oddly, sometimes the best wines leave me happy but short on descriptors.  Subtlety marked the cork wine.  It was quiet, reserved and demure the whole way through, simply less showy might have been fine, but it had less happening as well.
Jim Barry Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia 2005 - Mostly from a 30 acre vineyard that used to be a cricket pitch located in southern Coonawara on the Limestone Coast (for more on this area, see Australian Education Part IV).  Some fruit from estate vineyards in the Clare Valley is also used.  100% cabernet sauvignon and aged for 12 months in oak, half French and half American.
Mint dominated the cork bottle, and bordered on being green in that unripe, cool climate cabernet way. The rest of the wine showed great balance with fruit appropriately overriding the tannin.  The screwcap's tougher tannin made it harder to enjoy but the wine was much more complete.  It just needed food to offset some of the tannic bite.
It's all well and good for me to pronounce my preferences but I knew the wines and knew which was which.  How did the blind presentation go?  Read the next two posts for feedback and insight from the other tasters.

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