ed's wine page
"Big Thunder" from Down Under...the Sequel 
 February 24, 2004
 Cafe Panache. Ramsey, New Jersey 
A Luxury Shiraz Tasting and Dinner
           My Tasting Notes
    Link to discussion Forum   
   Link to additional Tasting Notes
Australian Premium Shiraz

'98 Veritas "Hanisch" Shiraz

'98 Draycott Burge Reserve

'98 Greenock Creek "Creek Block" Shiraz

'98 Kay Brothers "Block 6" Shiraz

'01 Shirvington Shiraz

'02 Shirvington Shiraz

'01 Integrity Shiraz

'02 Marquis Phillips 9 Shiraz

The Vertical

'98 Henry's Drive Shiraz

'99 Henry's Drive Reserve

'00 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz

'01  Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz

'02 Henry's Drive  Reserve Shiraz

Dutschke Tawny - 22 year old

Dutschke Tokay NV


Northern New Jersey- Ten of us got together last evening at Cafe Panache to open some dozen or so bottles of luxury (au premier) Australian Premium red wine.  Specifically, luxury wines of the Shiraz variety. This was an encore performance to the original "Big Thunder from Down Under" tasting that had taken place some three years earlier.

As coordinator of the event, it was my task to assemble the guests as well as obtain the best wines possible. My initial plan was to have each guest ante up a "Parker" 100-point wine. While this could have been accomplished, it was far easier for some of the participants to contribute near perfect examples. Even with this deficiency, there were no complaints. I should add that except for the first four wines listed, renowned winemakers Sparky and Sarah Marquis had a hand or two in all of the others. Most of the wines were opened and decanted well in advance of the tasting. However, a number were not.

Knowing that a few participants would be running late, I decided to pour a "flight" or two as a pre-tasting diversion. So, whilst we were waiting for the tardy "horse trader" and his entourage to arrive, we started to serve the Henry's Drive vertical. This first flight featured the '98 Henry's Drive Shiraz and the ‘99 Henry’s Drive Reserve Shiraz. The second flight consisted of the 2000, 2001 and 2002 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz. This second flight was indeed quite amazing, but more on that later.

Following the Henry's Drive vertical, we then moved to the  '98 Veritas Hanish and '98 Draycott Burge Reserve Shiraz. This was followed by the '98 Greenock Creek "Creek Block" Shiraz and the '98 Kay Brothers "Block 6" Shiraz. Finally, we concluded with the 2001 and 2002 Shirvington Shiraz and the 2001 Integrity and 2002 Marquis Phillips 9 Shiraz. By the time we poured the 2001 and 2002 Shirvington, I was beginning to feel the effects of palate fatigue. As usual there were simply too many wines on hand.  At the end of the tasting, I recall seeing many unfinished bottles of wine left on the table.  

"Machine Gun" Steve Levy and Mark Franks holding the Burge Reserve and Integrity


Steve Manzi (combating a virus) and Rich Byrne

Professor Steve Sharoff and Nancy Lentine

My Tasting Notes:

1998 Henry's Drive Shiraz- Fragrant nose of Prune liqueur, fig and black plum like aromas. Palate come across as medium/full with silky dark fruit flavors, moderate toast and a moderate to long finish. Drink it over the next five years. My fourteenth tasting note, Score it "92"

1999 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz- 
I’ve had the '99 Reserve many times before, but tonight it was probably the weakest wine in the line up...at least on my card.
Slightly out of balance with detectable acidity on the initial and mid palate. Possibly an off bottle. My eighth tasting note, judgment reserved.

2000 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz-
A real ripper, mate! Out of the gate, the 2000 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz appeared to have it all. Huge nose of Espresso Roast, blackberry and vanilla oak roar from the glass. The palate impression mirrored the nose with exceptionally rich, ripe, SWEET fruit, tar, moderate to full toast and a purity of licorice and blackberry flavored fruit that simply must be tasted to be believed. Drink it over the next seven to ten years. My seventh tasting note, score it "96" 

2001 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz-
Another show stopper! Big, rich, full-bodied with a good lashing of tannins. Not as open or expressive as the 2000 Reserve was, but a sleeping giant nonetheless. All the components are there and the wine may take a couple more years to integrate and come together. Thereafter, it should drink effortlessly for another 12 years or more.  My ninth tasting note, score it "97"

2002 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz-
This seemed to combine the flamboyant qualities of the 2000 as well as the structure of the 2001. I should also add that the 2002 Henry's Drive Reserve is a world-class wine that has clearly exceeded my lofty expectations! It ran a good race and held it's own against the best of the best. To my notes: Deep, brooding purple and oil like color leading to a flamboyant nose suggesting road tar, crushed blackberry and dark chocolate like aromas. The palate impression mirrored the nose with exceptionally rich, ripe, SWEET fruit, tar, vanilla and a purity of core fruit flavors that simply must be experienced to be believed. Tannins were mild to medium and ripe. Fabulously Intense! Drink it over the next 12 years. This wine is about as good as it gets! My fifth tasting note, score it "98+".

1998 Veritas Hanish Shiraz-
This is a  wine that I liked much more that some of the other guests. At this point of the tasting, I think palate fatigue was playing a major role with some of the tasters. Additionally, these next four offerings were quite different stylistically than the Henry's Drive vertical. Others will differ, but this was my "wine of the evening". Quite simply, it had everything! Deep, dark ink like color. The bouquet while somewhat tight and ungenerous does offer up deeply scented aromas of crushed Blackberry/Raspberry compote, licorice and spice. In the mouth, the highly extracted well-endowed '98 “Hanish” shows remarkable concentration, tremendous extract and impeccable balance. The wine is ever so slowly closing down and is not as flamboyant or expressive as previous bottles. Finishes with a fifty-second residual sensation. Hold for two years. My sixth tasting note, score it "98"! 

1998 Draycott Burge Reserve Shiraz-
This has to be the only tasting that I've attended where the Burge Reserve did not place in the top two wines of the evening. Although the Burge did show well, it was simply not as stunning as previous examples. I believe that the wine is ever so slowly closing down and has gone to sleep. Hold for two years. My fifteenth tasting note, score it "94" 

1998 Greenock Creek "Creek Block" Shiraz
- Opens with aromatics suggesting road tar, crushed blackberry like fruits, saddle leather, licorice, moderate toast and spice. Tannins are slowly giving way to reveal a medium-full to full-bodied texture and personality with excellent balance, substantial palate weight and a long lingering finish. Intense flavors of blackberries and black plum like flavors fill the mouth.  Finishes with stunning forty second residual sensation. Drink it over the next seven to ten years. My fourth tasting note, score it "95"

1998 Kay Brothers "Block 6" Shiraz
- This wine together with the Veritas Hanish and Burge Reserve were both noticeably more backward this time around as opposed to the last two side-by-sides. Restrained nose suggesting crushed black fruits, spice, oak and moderate toast. In the mouth, the '98 Block 6 was a bit tight, hard and definitely not as open as previous bottles. Hold for two years. My sixth tasting note, score it "94"

2001 Shirvington Shiraz-
Slightly more evolved than the 2002 Shirvington was. Licorice, blackberry and road tar, hell, lots of stuff.  My first tasting note, score it "97" points

2002 Shirvington Shiraz-
Huge tannin structure concealed by a mountain of cascading fruit. Huge bouquet of Licorice, charcoal and ripe black fruits roar from the glass. Palate comes across as medium full to full bodied with intense flavors suggesting black currants, licorice and vanilla oak. I would not be surprised if this Shiraz begins to shut down. The wine finishes with a fifty-second residual sensation. Hold for one year. My first tasting note, score it "97"

2001 Integrity Shiraz-
A huge, intensely rich wine with an almost creamy texture and moth-feel that would make a believer out of most. The words “gobs of fruit” comes to mind. My third tasting note, score it  "98"

Dutschke Tawny 22 year old-
While I'm certainly not a fan of fortified wines, this example rocked me! Hazelnuts galore, espresso roast and toffee explode in the mouth. My seventh tasting note, score it "98"!


The 2001 Integrity took top honors with the most first place votes. Tied for second were the 2002 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz and the 2002 Shirvington  Shiraz.

Back to the Top