Thursday, May 7, 2009

Popular Choices May Not Match Your Taste

I try real hard to make sure the opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone. I do some research on every wine - but only after tasting whatever I've opened on a given night.

Tonight was a really interesting selection. I had recently visited Zionsivlle's Grapevine Cottage - a great wine shop. I bought six bottles of wine and picked up a Marquis Phillips Sarah's Blend 2007. The gentleman assisting me said he really loved it and they had sold a lot of this particular Australian blend.

It is largely Shiraz at 62 percent, with 25 percent Cabernet, 10 percent Merlot and 3 percent Cab Franc. This is not a wimpy wine. And, the Wine People (gurus and big publications) love this value wine.

Wine Advocate gave this nifty blend 91 points - big numbers!

I found this to be a big fruit-forward blend, with some earthiness and a really big body - a lot going on! You can taste the French Oak aging of the wine and that helps provide a rather intense wine experience. The finish definitely lingers in your mouth a while. If you like tannins, you'll like this wine.

This would work for those who like that "big ol' mouthful of wine" I occasionally refer to here. Wine Advocate's Robert Parker says this will age nicely over 8 years.

But at the price point of $15.99, that I paid in Zionsville, most people are going to drink it. Perhaps if you buy several bottles or a case, you might put some away. My knowledge tells me it will definitely improve with age. It has all the characteristics of a young wine: Nice structure, but also a bit brash or harsh in some ways.

Online, I found prices ranging from $14.99 up to nearly $18. So the Grapevine Cottage price was a good buy.

I've had Syrah or Shiraz I've enjoyed more. I'd like to find this wine again or get back to Zionsville and buy another bottle - put it away for awhile and see if it doesn't become more interesting with a couple years aging.

Most of the reviews I found loved this wine. My advice to beginners and novices is read those things but dont' be driven by an expert's opinion. This is a big, nicely made wine - no doubt. It didn't fit my taste at just two years removed from the vineyard, but I didn't dislike it either. Use the expert to guide your tasting experience. Then as you develop your palate you take those "expert" comments with your own level of expertise.

At the price point, it's a nice big blend. It held up ok to my grilled ribeye, but the chef burned the ribeye a bit - that idiot!

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