Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nine Stones McLaren Vale Shiraz, 2005

The mid-palate is the thing in this wine, cuvee No. 2 of Nine Stones Shiraz.

Someone once told me that Australian wines are like doughnuts; they have a hole in the middle. And if you pay attention, you'll find that's generally true. After a ripe opening, you hit a firm, forbidding area in the mid-palate before the finish kicks in again with ripe fruit. The winemaker from Nine Stones explains on the label of this wine that McLaren Vale is an exception; knowledgeable winemakers have long sought out McLaren Vale grapes to fill out the mid-palate of their wines from other regions.

Whereas Barossa is just north of Adelaide (north=closer to the equator in Australia), McLaren Vale is just south, and it also has exposure to the cooling breezes of the Indian Ocean. If you like Australian wines that lean toward elegance rather than power, you might look for McLaren Vale on the label.

Like the Barossa cuvee, this wine is very deep and bluish in appearance. Beautiful aromas come right out at you--cassis, fresh berries and flowers. Forceful yet pretty, like a young Gigondas. If you're thinking mid-palate as you taste the wine, you're going to say, "yes!" Beautiful persistent flavors. Tannins are ever present but soft and ripe. This is my style of wine.

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