Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Winecology: Australian "Jam Bombs" Tasting

I know that "Jam Bombs" may sound like something the Wu Tang Clan, 50 Cent or Dr. Dre might host. But it was actually a tasting of Australian wines held at the Tasting Room/Randolph Wine Cellars on the west side of Chicago. The tasting was held in an upstairs loft with a fantastic view of the Chicago skyline and featured 30+ Australian reds and whites. I've highlighted a few of the wines (all reds) that I enjoyed, rated highly or otherwise thought were noteworthy.

Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Barossa 2001
A boutique winery where the entire winemaking process is done by hand. Wines are made from low yielding old vines. The name refers to the petrol engine-driven wooden baskets that crush the grapes. The wine had dark ruby colors in the glass. The nose was powerful with sweet berry aromas. It had a luscious full texture in the mouth with a solid finish. I understand this wine cellars very well - for 10 years or longer - before reaching its peak.
Rating - 8.5/9.0 out of 10
Price - $70

Mitolo G.A.M. Shiraz, McLaren Vale 2003
Another product of low yield vines. The Mitolo G.A.M. was dark purple to inky colored. It had a deep, dense nose of honey, pepper and strawberries. The mouthfeel was full and balanced by sensations of tartness. Long finish. Parker has just rated this wine a 96 to 100 in the Wine Advocate. Not surprisingly that rating has resulted in prices as much as 50% higher than the tasting offering noted below.
Rating - 9.0/9.5 out of 10
Price - $50

Nepenthe Red Tryst, Adelaide 2003
An unusual combination of 60% Cabernet, 25% Zinfandel and 15% Tempranillo. The nose hinted at pepper. In the mouth it felt a bit tight and immature with a mouthfeel that was a bit thin. It did show some nice underlying tannins.
The finish was short-to-medium length. Perhaps this wine will open up and improve as it matures.

Rating - 8.0/8.5 out of 10
Price - $12

Torbreck 'The Factor', Shiraz, Barossa 2002
A lot of initial appeal with rich chocolate aromas on the nose. Once on the palette it seemed slightly out of balance as the tannins were mellowed by the wine's tartness. Flavors of chocolate and berries carried forward to an impressive finish. Another highly rated (99 points) Parker wine with a price to match.
Rating - 8.5/9.0 out of 10
Price - $106

Torbreck 'The Steading', Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre, Barossa 2001
This blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 20% Mourvedre showed dark purple colors in the glass. It had a very concentrated nose with lingering pepper, earth and berry aromas. Big berry fruit flavors presented themselves in the mouth. Tartness that seemed in balance. A lasting finish.
Rating - 9.0/9.5 out of 10
Price - $33

Stella Bella, Cabernet Merlot, Margaret River 2001
This Western Australia beauty was my favorite of the night. Blended with 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. It had a warm appearance in the glass. Bold aromas of syrup, caramel and honey were on the nose. In the mouth it was slightly thin but showed complex flavors of pepper, earthiness of wood chips that turned into dark fruits. The plum-like fruits resonated through the long finish.
Rating - 9.5/10 out of 10
Price - $27