Friday, January 11, 2008

Hamilton Barossa Valley Railway Shiraz, 2000

I found this on closeout at Harding's Markets for $5.79--less than half its original price of $12.99. For a wine with eight years of age, it seemed worth a try. Actually, as the label points out, the vineyard has historic roots. The Hamilton family planted South Australia's first commercial vineyard in 1838, and this wine is "made from grapes off Railway Vineyard in the Barossa Valley by the re-established Hamilton's Ewell Vineyards."

To return to the theme of the Nine Stones Barossa, this wine is typically big, bold and tannic. Even at eight years of age, the color is very dark, nearly opaque. Same ripe berry fruit as in Nine Stones--blackberry dominates. It smells tannic and the flavors deliver everything that was promised. Ripe black fruit in front and back with a hard, tannic middle. All the strengths and weaknesses of Barossa Shiraz: impressive for size but too tannic for my taste. While time may some day tame those tannins, I suspect I won't be enamored with the fruit that is left.

Many Europhiles on wine boards use Barossa Shiraz as a way of picking on Robert Parker, who tends to give high points to big, bold, alcoholic and tannic wines. They say that winemakers there have bowed to Parker's tastes. The truth is that Barossa has always produced big, bold wines, and many Australian wine drinkers (mostly male) are drawn to them precisely because they are "so thick you can cut them with a knife." Hamilton's Railway is a good example of Barossa Shiraz, but I prefer the Nine Stones.

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