Tag Archives: Shiraz

The Curator Red

A Rhone-style blend, with 95% Shiraz, 3% Cinsault, 1% Mourvedre, and 1% of the white Viognier grape. It’s not uncommon to see a couple of drops of Viognier in a red Rhone – it helps to open up the blend, and Viognier contributes more fruit aroma than you’d think, even in such a small proportion.

The Curator Red (2011) Coastal Region, South Africa – $11

Photo0373Color: reddish-purple, verging on black; this is quite dark.

Aroma: blackberry fruit and dried earth notes, with a little spice, licorice, and dried flowers underneath.

Taste: more fruit on the palate, with a mix of blackberry, plum, and dark cherry. This is followed by medium tannins and spice on the mid-palate and the finish. Good balance and a nice length – the fruit doesn’t dry up or get overwhelmed by the tannins. Not in the jammy category, but definitely a New World-influenced fruit-forward style.

A great $11 bottle for pizza, burgers, or nothing at all – recommended.

 

The Royal Shiraz-Cabernet

This is a blend of 60% Shiraz and 40% Cab, from the Swartland region of South Africa – the breadbasket of the country, as well as a notable producer of wine and olive oil. It’s named in honor of The Royal Hotel, which vies for the title of South Africa’s oldest inn.

The Royal Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon (2009) Swartland, South Africa – $9

Photo0371Color: dark purplish red, shading almost to black in the center.

Aroma: brambly red and blue fruit notes, with some smoke and spice underneath.

Taste: quite Australian in style, with loads of jammy fruit, warm spice, and a hefty finish. Good acidity up front and in the mid-palate makes this a good choice for food, especially anything with tomato- or vinegar-based sauce.

I could see this with a big plate of Memphis barbeque. Quite a nice wine for the money – you’d be hard-pressed to find a comparable Shiraz blend from Australia at even 50% higher in price. Recommended.

The Executioner from Shinas Estates

George Shinas, Australian winemaker and judge, is a great character.  All of his wine labels feature judicial themes (The Guilty, The Innocent, The Verdict, The Executioner, and Sweet Justice) with awesome sepia-tone photography. I’m fortunate enough to have a signed poster from George, courtesy of the great sales job I did with his special reserve wine, The Executioner. And I’m cracking open a bottle of that for dinner tonight.

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The Executioner is a blend of George’s best barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) and Shiraz (43%), with just a dash of Viognier (2%) to improve the aromatics – this wine is an Aussie twist on a Cotes du Rhone, and adding some white to a big red is a Rhone tradition from way back. I broke out one of the big Riedel glasses for this – it deserves nothing less.

I’ve got a chorizo pizza coming out of the oven, and I thought I’d share the before-and-after pictures of that as well. This is a whole-wheat crust with mushroom marinara and a blend of four Italian cheeses. It’s topped with Mexican chorizo, baby portabella mushrooms, onion, and kalamata olives.

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The Executioner (2008) Victoria, Australia – $30

Photo0346Color: a deep purple-red, almost opaque in the center.

Aroma: plum, blackberry, and cassis dominate – you can just feel the Viognier trying to break through with some floral notes. There’s also some eucalyptus and mint in there as well.

Taste: powerful stuff; while Cabernet led on the nose, the Shiraz is noticeable right off the bat on the palate. Big notes of spice, with some of the eucalyptus, then followed in the mid-palate by Cabernet fruit. The finish is still ripe and juicy; this has several more good years in the bottle. Even though it has a whopping 15% alcohol, it’s not hot at all. The finish has just a bit of tannin coming through.

With the pizza, more floral notes come out on the palate, including some violets. A little extraPhoto0347 air and this is just overall pleasant, harmonious, and powerful. The interplay between the fruit notes and the other elements are fascinating – very bite and every sip is a new discovery. A fantastic wine; the supply of this is limited to just a few hundred cases in the US, so if you find some, snap it up. Highly recommended.

Drinking Tonight: Benefactor Shiraz

This is an Australian label imported by Trader Joe’s – they also have a Cab and a Chardonnay, all at the $6 price point, that I’ll be reviewing shortly. I’m having this with grilled pork, rubbed with adobo and lime.

Benefactor Shiraz (2012) South Eastern Australia – $6.

Photo0236Color: garnet red, shading to red-black in the center.

Aroma: very Australian – eucalyptus, mint, black pepper, and tar. Some raspberry and rose petal notes too. A big nose.

Taste: Good fruit-spice balance up at the front. Warm and chewy, but a little thin towards the finish. Pepper does come out on the very end, with good length. With air I get additional berry fruit notes. I think this would be better with a less spicy meal.

Decent wine, and an appealing price. This is not a keeper for the cellar, but it’s something to consider for parties. And with the creepy label, it’s a nice choice for a Halloween party!