November 8, 2007

You should always do what you do best. In the case of Australians and wine this means Shiraz. These days it is a hip thing to make wine from the Rhone varietal Syrah and call it Shiraz, but really this should be reserved for the Australians, just like Champagne is reserved for the region around Rheims, France.

I like Australian Shiraz. Yes, it is a fruit bomb, yes, it is not very sophisticated or elegant but it is damn good. It just tastes good, it invigorates every tastebud in your mouth, it just takes over from the time it enters your mouth. The other funny thing about Shiraz is that I never had a bad one. Somehow Australians tend to make decent wine, in that most do not rock my socks off, but they never disappoint. You have an expectation and an Australian wine virtually always meets it. I cannot say this for many other nations frankly, as I cannot count how many times I have been disappointed with wines from France, Italy, Hungary, Austria and I could go on. The old world makes some of the most incredible wines in the world, but they also make some of the worst. This is not so much the case with the new world and definitely not with Australia. Maybe the weather? Or is it culture?

I am babbling about this because we picked up a bottle from one of Australia’s largest producers, Penfolds. It is not a pure Shiraz but a blend of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is from their low-end range of Rawson’s Retreat. The wine is cheap (about 8 euros) yet it meets that quality standard you would expect and actually get with Australian wines. It is fruity (very fruity), you discover some dark plumb, maybe a bit of coffee and has strong spicy nose, maybe with a hint of liquorice . You can distinctly taste both the Shiraz and the Cab in this wine, which makes it somewhat interesting. If you do not feel like you want to get out of your comfort zone and do not want to spend a fortune on an expesive Napa Cab, I suggest you grab one of these bottles. It will meet your expectation.

Name: Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet, Rawson’s Retreat, 2006

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Body: Full

Price: 8 euros

Got it at: Bortarsasag, Budapest, Hungary

Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet, Rawson’s Retreat, 2006