February 15th. Wine Dinner
      Chez Dominique
    Featuring Imports from Epicurean and The Grateful Palate



Northern New Jersey- Six die hard wine junkies got together last evening at Chez
    Dominique in Bergenfield to open some eleven bottles of Australian premium red wine.
    Special thanks goes to Gary Vaynerchuk of the Wine Library of Springfield, New Jersey
          who generously contributed all twelve bottles.

All the wines were bagged at the Wine Library and opened some three hours in advance
    of dinner. I should add that except for Gary; know one knew the identities of any of the
   wines. Furthermore, the wines were set up and poured in a random, non-specific order
over a three-hour period. Everyone gave a numerical score for each wine and the
  averages were calculated at the conclusion of the tasting. There were indeed many
 surprises as well as a smile or two from the participants. Below are my individual tasting
  notes. Finally, this was my first experience with the bulk of these wines and it was a real
treat to taste them blind. I should add that my individual tasting scores ranged from a
  high of "97" to a low of "84". To my notes:

         1998 Chris Hackett Shiraz- Medium to dark ruby color. Nose of plum, earth and spice.
             Palate opens with soft earthy flavors and medium weight. Undistinguished and
            overwhelmed by the others. My first tasting note, score it "87".

            1998 Penny's Hill "Specialized" Shiraz/Cabernet/Merlot- Medium to dark ruby color.
               Not as deeply pigmented as some of the other wines. Nose opens with fragrances of both
                  red and black fruits, spice and moderate toast. Palate comes across as a bit tart and
                   astringent. Medium fullish on the palate with fine extract and very good "core" fruit
                    flavors. Slightly outclassed by some of the others but very good nonetheless. My second
           tasting note, score it "91/92".

               1999 Langmeil Shiraz- Very dark ruby, almost purple color. Offers up a fragrant Licorice
               and black plum scented nose. In the mouth, the wine is rich and spicy, showing dark
                cherry fruit with light oak and a moderate finish. My first tasting note, score it "93".

           1998 Paxton Shiraz- Let me first say there is so much going on here aromatically that
                 the sensation simply must be experienced to be believed! Deep, brooding ink like color.
                  The wine opens with a stunning Prune liqueur, fig and black currant/blackberry scented
              nose that is, for the lack of a better term, a real "knock-out"! In the mouth, the '98
                Paxton Shiraz offers up a medium to full-bodied texture and personality with excellent
               balance, stunning extract and a wonderful mouth-feel. Finishes with a 30 to 35 second
                residual sensation. My third tasting note, score it "96".

                 1999 Craneford Shiraz- Great color suggesting ink and oil. Explosive nose of licorice and
                    full toast. Fragrant and flavorful with good core fruit flavors, fine extract and moderate
                    finish. Falls just a tad short on the mid palate and finish. My first tasting note, score it
                    "92".

                1998 Scarpantoni Reserve Shiraz- Deep tar and ink like color. Opens with a restrained
              nose suggesting road tar, crushed blackberry like fruit, Licorice, moderate toast and
                  spice. In the mouth, the wine is very concentrated and full with layers of extremely rich,
                    ripe Syrah fruit and a good dose of medium coarse foreground and background tannins.
                    Finishes with a 25 second residual sensation. My first tasting note, score it "92+".

           1998 Oddfellows Shiraz- A wine I kept referring to a "Goodfellas". Dense, port like
                  color. Nose opens with intense aromas of crushed black currants, black plum and toasty
                    oak fragrances. Palate comes across with a fullish concentration and an exquisite mouth
                    feel. The 1998 Oddfellows Shiraz is just loaded with massive amounts of extract and
                    black currant like flavors. Large scaled and just bursting with tremendous core fruit and
                    flavor. Finish must have lasted 35 seconds or so. My first tasting note, score it "97".

                1998 R I Buller Magee Shiraz- Deep, dark ruby color. Lovely nose of medium to full
                    toast, licorice and spicy Raspberry scented fruit. Medium fullish on the palate with good
                    core fruit flavors and a moderate finish. My first tasting note, score it "90".

                1996 Calliope Shiraz- Opaque black/purple color followed by a huge rush of crushed
                    blackberry/raspberry and sweet licorice scented fruit. The '96 Calliope Shiraz also showed
                    an incredible prune and port like nose and palate. Has all the components to make one an
                    instant fan. Gorgeous palate of sweet Raspberry/Blackberry fruit and pepper. Medium full
                    concentrated "seamless" flavors and superb balance make this one of my three favorites
                    of the evening. My first tasting note, score it "94".

                1998 Brothers in Arms Shiraz- Deep tar and ink like color. Intense nose of oak and
                  spice intermingled with crushed blackberry like fruit and hot tar. Would have benefited
                    from additional airtime. Very "Primary", but has ALL the components to be spectacular! In
                    the mouth, the '98 Brothers in Arms Shiraz shows plenty of power, extract and grip to go
                    along with a good dose of medium fullish "coarse" tannins. The wine did not show the
                    up-front fruit or richness of some of the other offerings, but still has a lot going for it.
                    Solid wine but needs time. My first tasting note, score it "91+".

                    1999 Scarpantoni School Block Cabernet/Merlot- Medium ruby color. Not as deeply
                    pigmented as some of the other wines. Palate comes across as slightly unbalanced with
                   washed out flavors and a moderate finish. My first tasting note, score it "86/87".

                    Conclusion: The Oddfellows Shiraz, Paxton Shiraz, Calliope Shiraz and Langmeil Shiraz
                    were all favorites...at least on my card.