Luxury Shiraz Dinner Tasting
August 24, 2000
Cafe Panache, Ramsey New Jersey


     My Tasting Notes  Links to other tasting notes

Well, in an effort to tune up and cross train my palate for the October 28th "Cult 2" Cab tasting, Tammy and I met Steve Manzi and his fiancée Karen and another couple for dinner last evening. The venue was Café Panache. The causalities of the evening were six bottles of luxury Australian red wines. Specifically, one cab and six Shiraz wines.

Steve Manzi, Ed Assidio and Steve Levy

Upon arrival, all the reds were bagged and served blind in flights of one and two over a three-hour period. Except for the '97 Greenock Creek Cab, no one knew the identities of the wines. Furthermore, the flights were set up and poured in a random, non-specific order. At the conclusion of the tasting, there were indeed a few surprises as well as a smile or two from the participants.

Before I get into my notes, I have some general observations on the six wines that were tasted. First of all, the wines were all outstanding! Seriously, the gaps in quality between my favorite and least favorite wines were very, very small. If you like your wines flamboyant, opulent and oozing with multiple layers of hedonistic fruit, then, this was the tasting for it! To my notes:

'97 Greenock Creek Cabernet- Medium fullish color. The bouquet offered up fragrances of toasty vanilla oak, deep plum and currant like aromas, licorice and asphalt. The deeply scented bouquet pales in comparison to the riveting palate impression. There is an initial rush of lush, silky fruit that is nearly intoxicating! In the mouth, the wine offers up huge reserves of highly extracted foreground (voluptuousness) fruit and flavor that made me an instant fan! This is a decadently rich, super concentrated effort from Greenock Creek that should drink and improve over the next 15 to 20 years. My first tasting note, Score it "97+". I certainly wouldn't complain if this wine was entered in the "cult 2" tasting.

'98 Wild Duck Creek "Springflat" Shiraz- Opaque black/purple color followed the wines hallmark sour cherry and Menthol aromatics. In the mouth, the wine is literally oozing with decadently rich, ripe, jammy, licorice and black cherry like flavors. It also finishes very well and should drink effortlessly over the next 7 to 10 years. My fourteenth tasting note, Score it "95+".

'97 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz- Fragrant and flavorful with good core fruit flavors, fine extract and moderate finish. Slightly outclassed by the '98 Fox Creek Reserve. Drink it over the next 12 years. My seventh tasting note, Score it "94".

'98 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz- This wine took a good thirty to forty five minutes to start to come around. The '98 Fox Creek Reserve is more deeply scented than the '97 and cuts a fuller more complete profile on both nose and palate. The bouquet offers up a fabulous mix of cocoa, licorice, cassis and toasty, sweet oak fragrances. Gorgeous palate of concentrated but sweet Raspberry/Blackberry fruit and pepper. Full bodied with excellent balance, stunning extract and a wonderful mouthful. I should add that the '98 Fox Creek Reserve was the most structured wine in the line up. Drink it over the next 15 to 20 years. My eighth tasting note, Score it "97".

'98 Draycott Burge Reserve- I've been fortunate to have had the '98 Burge Reserve on numerous occasions. It has a style and symmetry that closely resembles the finest vintages of Grange Hermitage. It is always a special treat to share a bottle with friends. Saturated purple and black ink like color. Nose of Licorice, road tar, spice and moderate to full toast. Gorgeous palate of concentrated but sweet Raspberry/Blackberry fruit and pepper. Medium to full bodied with excellent balance, stunning extract and a wonderful mouth feel. Add to that both foreground and background tannins. Closing down ever so slightly. Drink it over the next 15  years. My seventh tasting note, Score it "98"!

'97 Veritas "Hanisch"- Deep color of ink and oil. Restrained nose suggesting crushed black fruits, spice, oak and full toast. Palate offers up super concentrated and highly extracted, "pure" core fruit flavors. Like the '98 Burge Reserve, there is explosive richness in this wine with a significant depth of fruit, stunning complexity and highly extracted core fruit flavors. Finishes with a 45 to 50 second residual sensation. The Hanisch along with the '98 Fox Creek Reserve showed plenty power and grip and both should age effortlessly for 15 to 20 years or more. My third tasting note, Score it "98+". Had this picked as the '98 Fox Creek (wrong)? This dog will hunt! Wow, did it show great or what!

Conclusions: The '97 Hanisch got the duke as MY personal favorite with the '98 Burge Reserve running a close second. Yea, you heard it right sports fans. The '98 Veritas Hanisch actually showed better than the Burge Reserve did. It was a close call but tonight the Veritas showed exceptionally well.  I should add that this was the only tasting in memory where the '98 Burge Reserve was not first on my card. Got-to-get-me some-Hanisch!   Etc., etc.,