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mclaren vale

Tyrrell’s ribbon ’round the old oak tree

[vineyard]Tyrrell’s 1999 Shiraz “Reserve” (McLaren Vale) – Massively acidic. This is exacerbated by the relative daintiness of the fruit, which is tart, red-berried, and overtly crisp; much Beaujolais is actually fuller-bodied than this wine, though it somewhat makes up for its occasional foray into mincing with a sharp blast of intensity. There’s a cloud of pepper dust that lends it varietal character, but otherwise it’s hard to see this as a shiraz, nor has time led to the development of what I’d call tertiary character. Is it good? It’s…particular. It’s fun with food. It’s an enjoyable quaff. And maybe that’s enough. It’s best use might be to blind-taste your Australian wine-hating friends; they’ll never, ever guess. (4/09)

Show don’t tell

Rosemount 2002 “Show Reserve” Shiraz (McLaren Vale) – No shrinking violet, this wine nevertheless avoids the usual shiraz flaws of over-concentration, soy, stew, and burn. And yet, to little purpose does it avoid them, because while it’s a fruity, fun drink with a healthy dollop of palate weight, that’s all it is. In other words, it’s a basic shiraz for everyday drinking…except that it’s not presented or priced as one. Could we at least get a dusting of pepper here? A clod of earth? Some leather? Any texture at all? (2/09)

Hardys boys

[logo]Hardys 1995 Shiraz “Eileen Hardy” (McLaren Vale/Padthaway) – Thick blueberry laden with eucalyptus. Simple, but if one accepts that simplicity (which is difficult given the price), it’s tasty enough. (2/08)

Clarke Alexander

[bottle]Richard Hamilton 2005 Slate Quarry Riesling (McLaren Vale) – The elements for a solid, fruit-forward riesling seem in place, and yet the wine just isn’t very appealing. It exerts a lot of effort, flinging neon acidity and the slightly over-concentrated bite and sting of green apple against the palate, but there’s just not much going on behind the assault. Air eventually helps tame the wilder elements, but it never really moves past its overly aggressive nature. (2/08)