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harmon

"Big Thunder" from Down Under 
 
February 2, 2001
Scalini Fedeli, New York City, New York
A Luxury Shiraz Tasting and Dinner
                My Tasting Notes            Link to discussion forum
                                                                                                      
Australian Premium Shiraz
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'98 Greenock Creek "Creek Block" Shiraz

'98 Greenock Creek "Seven Acre" Shiraz

'99 Hare's Chase Shiraz

'95 Veritas "Hanisch" Shiraz

'98 Veritas "Hanisch" Shiraz

'98 Veritas "Heysen" Shiraz

'99 Noon Reserve Shiraz

'99 Henry's Drive 
Reserve Shiraz

'96 Draycott Burge Reserve Shiraz (Magnum)

'98 Draycott Burge Reserve Shiraz

'99 Draycott Grateful Palate Reserve Shiraz

'96 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz

'97 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz

'98 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz

'98 Dutschke "Oscar Semmler" Shiraz

'95 Torbreck "Run Rig" 

'97 Torbreck "Run Rig"

'98 Torbreck "Run Rig"

'98 d'Arenberg "Dead Arm"

'98 d'Arenberg "Ironstone" Pressing

'95 Elderton "Command" 
 Shiraz

'98 Rusden "Black Guts" Shiraz

'99 Noon Port
















 


New York City - Last evening, twelve experienced tasters descended upon Scalini Fedeli in lower Manhattan to open some twenty-two bottles (count em) of Australian premium... Specifically, luxury wines of the Shiraz variety. This was an encore performance to last years  March 2nd. Shirazathon tasting.

As co-coordinator, it was my task to assemble the guests as well as obtain the best wines possible for the event. What was very different about this tasting versus previous tastings was the sheer number of verticals that graced our table. While most of us have had some experience with luxury "OZ" wines of this caliber, few of us have ever experienced multiple verticals of lets say Fox Creek Reserve, Torbreck "Run Rig" or Draycott Burge Reserve at a single seating. It was indeed a special treat as well as a memorable evening of excess!

The flights were set up and poured in a random, non-specific order over a four hour period. Except for a magnum of '96 Draycott Burge Reserve, pours were limited to about an ounce and a half per person. Even with this deficiency, there was still plenty of wine to go around. I should add that given the amount and outstanding quality of the wines being served, it was certainly difficult to avoid palate fatigue. I cringe at the number of unfinished wines that we left on the table. 

Special thanks goes to Harmon Skurnik who arranged the menu and  coordinated the restaurant end of the tasting. I think everyone would agree that the preparation, presentation and service afforded to us by the staff at Scalini Fedeli was totally awesome! Next time, lets try the other Scalini Fedeli in Chatham, New Jersey? 

The only minor complaint I have is that a number of reds (I think there were seven or eight) that were dropped off at the restaurant hours before,  should have been opened well in advance of our arrival. All of these "palate killers" would have benefited from extended breathing. Nonetheless, they were all terrific! To my notes... 



Lets see we started with a bit of Viognier and then dove head-first into the reds. Below is a list of individual appetizer and entree selections that were served.

Black truffle Ravioli served in a white truffle sauce.

Lamb carpaccio with Parmigiano Reggiano & shavings accompanied by a salad of portobello mushrooms...

Risotto with fall mushrooms and petit peas of Provence topped with crispy Zucchini...

Spaghetti in a roasted veal shank sauce with marrow and fresh sage...

Roasted rack of Virginia lamb surrounded by a caramelized garlic and sage jus over potato puree...

Medallion of filet mignon topped with parmigiano glazed asparagus in a Madeira and black truffle sauce. 

Strawberry and mascarpone sorbet in a mixed berry soup
 
 



The four faces of "Steve"
Steve Wolfe, Steve Manzi, Steve Sharoff, Steve Levy




These distinguished looking men have a habit of always showing up at 
the finest wine dinners. 




'95 Elderton "Command, '96 Fox Creek Reserve, '98 Draycott Burge Reserve



Dan Myers and Steve Manzi



Steve Levy, Nancy Lentine and Steve Wolfe


My Tasting Notes:

'95 Torbreck "Run Rig"- Of the three '95's, "Rug Rig" was my favorite. Medium fullish "purple" color. Nose opens with spice, herb and truffle scented fruit. Gorgeous palate of concentrated but sweet Raspberry/Blackberry fruit and pepper. Could easily pass for French except for the oak. My second tasting note, score it "95" 

'95 Veritas "Hanisch" Shiraz- Deep tar and ink like color. Fragrant nose of Prune liqueur, fig and black plum like aromas. Palate come across as medium/full with savory dark fruit flavors, heavy toast and a moderate to long finish. My first tasting note, Score it "93"

'95 Elderton "Command" Shiraz- Deep ruby color. Shows a lovely Licorice and oak scented nose. Medium fullish on the palate with loads of oak. This was good, but was overshadowed by the others. My fourth tasting note and possibly an off bottle, score it "90" 

'96 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz- This wine together with the '95 Elderton Command were probably the weakest wines in the line up...at least on my card. Possibly they were off bottles? My seventh tasting note, score it "90"

'96 Draycott Burge Reserve Shiraz (Magnum)-  Showing a very dark ruby, almost purple color. The deeply scented nose offers up medium to full toast, licorice, coffee and sweet Raspberry scented fruit. The tannins are slowly giving way to reveal an enormous wine! It not only shows terrific concentration and grip but also conjures up huge reserves of highly extracted foreground fruit and flavor. The wine finishes with a stunning forty-second finish! My twelfth tasting note and probably the best bottle to date, score it "97". Gorgeous!

'97 Torbreck "Run Rig"- Let me first say that I would purchase this wine on nose alone (that is, if I could ever find it)! There is so much going on here aromatically that it must simply be experienced to be believed! Deep, brooding ink like color showing no signs of age. The wine opens with a stunning black currant/blackberry and truffle scented nose that is, for the lack of a better term, a real "knock-out"! In the mouth, the '97 "Run Rig" is extremely intense and massively structured. This vintage together with the '98 Run Rig are the two finest wines that I have every tasted from this estate. Finishes with 45 second residual sensation. My third tasting note, score it "98/99"

'97 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz- Saturated purple color leading to a stunning palate impression of deeply scented licorice, tar and "heavenly" black fruit fragrances. The palate impression mirrored the nose with exceptionally rich, ripe, SWEET (almost over-ripe) fruit, tar, moderate to full toast and a purity of licorice and blackberry flavored fruit that simply must be tasted to be believed. Possesses the grip, balance and finish to last another fifteen years or more. My ninth tasting note, score it "97"... Wonderful! 

'98 Draycott Burge Reserve Shiraz- Like the '98 Veritas "Hanisch", I felt going in, that the '98 Draycott Burge Reserve would place in the top two or three wines of the evening. 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 Burge Reserve shows remarkable concentration, tremendous extract and impeccable balance. Finishes with a fifty-second residual sensation. Again, probably the finest Burge Reserve that will ever be made! My eleventh tasting note, score it "99/100"

'98 Greenock Creek "Creek Block" Shiraz- Deep tar and ink like color. Opens with a restrained nose suggesting road tar, crushed blackberry like fruits, Licorice, moderate toast and spice. Very "Primary", but has ALL the components to be spectacular! Fullish concentrated and superb balance make this one of my favorites of the evening. My first tasting note, score it "97+"

'98 Greenock Creek "Seven Acre" Shiraz- Like the '98 Greenock Creek "Creek Block" Shiraz, this wine should have been opened hours if not days in advance. Opaque black/purple color followed by an incredible nose of crushed blackberry/raspberry and sweet licorice scented
fruit. 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. My first tasting note, score it "96+"

'99 Hare's Chase Shiraz- This was another wine that Dan Phillips personally recommended to me a month or so ago. While it doesn't carry the weight or finish as well as some of the other "big boys", it is certainly has a lot going for it. Saturated ink like color.  The deeply scented bouquet suggests ripe black fruits; licorice and smoky oak like aromas. Gorgeous palate of concentrated but sweet Raspberry/Blackberry fruit and pepper and underlying toasty oak melt in the mouth. Add to that a strong dollop of licorice flavored fruit. The '99 Hare's Chase offers up a medium to full-bodied texture and personality with excellent balance, stunning extract and a wonderful mouth-feel. Finishes with a 25 to 30 second residual sensation. My third tasting note, Score it "95"

'98 Veritas "Hanisch" Shiraz- Going into this tasting and based upon previous experiences with this wine, I felt confident that the '98 "Hanisch" would either finish in first or place in the top two or three wines of the evening. Indeed the field was deep, but was this '98 up for the hunt? I'll comment on that later, right now, back to my notes. The '98 Veritas "Hanisch" shows a deep, dark brooding color of ink and motor oil. Like many of the other wines,  this wine should have been opened hours if not days in advance. Intense nose of  black plum, crushed blackberry like fruits and spice. Palate opens with super concentrated and highly extracted, black fruit flavors suggesting licorice, blueberry/raspberry compote and a stunning richness and purity that simply must be tasted to be believed. Add to that a stunning grilled meat like quality. There were also significant underlying tannins present. However, they were non obtrusive or coarse tannins. Finishes with an incredible 50 to 60 second residual sensation. My third tasting note, score it "100"! Monumental!

'98 Veritas "Heysen" Shiraz- Dark purple and ink like color. Slightly less pigmented than the '98 "Hanisch" was. Deeply scented nose offers up medium to full toast, licorice, coffee/mocha aromas and sweet black Raspberry scented fruit fragrances. Like the '98 "Hanisch", I would buy this wine on nose alone! In the mouth, the '98 "Heysen" is not as deeply concentrated or as highly extracted as the '98 "Hanisch" was. But, by no means was it far off the mark. The palate impression mirrored the nose with exceptionally rich, ripe, SWEET fruit, tar, vanilla and a purity of "core" fruit flavors that was, for the lack of a better term,  simply breathtaking! Wonderfully crafted and singing! My third tasting note, score it "97" Wow! 

'99 Noon Reserve Shiraz- Restrained nose and palate. Drying tannins dominate the attack. Does not possess the richness or up front fruit of some of the other wines. My second tasting note, score it "95"

'99 Henry's Drive Reserve Shiraz- Deep, dense, black and purple like color.  Showing  focused but tight aromatics. Palate was slightly corked so, most of us passed on it and we moved on. 

'99 Draycott Grateful Reserve Shiraz- I actually believe that I missed this one. Was it poured?

'98 Fox Creek Reserve Shiraz- In style and weight, the wine was not dissimilar from its predecessor, the stunning '97 Fox Creek Reserve. However, compared to the '97, the '98 Fox Creek Reserve cuts a fuller more complete profile on both nose and palate. It shows a deep, dark purple and ink like color. The bouquet while somewhat tight and ungenerous does offer up deeply scented aromas of crushed Blackberry/Raspberry like fruit, road tar, licorice and moderate to full toast. In the mouth, the '98 Fox Creek Reserve can be a bit rough on first impression.  Would have benefited from additional air time. Aside from the slightly aggressive initial and mid palate, the '98 Fox Creek Reserve shows great power, extract and grip. Finishes with a 50 second residual sensation. My eleventh tasting note, score it "98"

'98 Dutschke "Oscar Semmler" Shiraz- Dan Phillips personally recommended this wine to me last spring. Well, I passed on it and I've been kicking myself every since. It boasts an opaque black/purple color with a restrained nose. In the mouth, the '98 Oscar Semmler shows outstanding richness to go along with a terrific "super sexy" mouth feel.  Oscar opens with a huge rush of crushed blackberry/raspberry and sweet licorice scented fruit. I was stunned with the level of ripeness and highly extracted as well as concentrated core fruit flavors. Finish must have lasted 35 seconds or so. Oscar proved that he could run a good race in stiff competition. My third tasting note, Score it "96"!

'98 Torbreck "Run Rig"- This is another wine that would have benefited from additional breathing. Dense port like color. Nose opens with intense aromas of crushed black currants, black plum and toasty oak fragrances. The palate mirrored the nose with a  mix of very primary core fruit flavors, suggesting dense black fruits, blackberry and vanilla. Add to that a massive, fullish texture with a good dollop of medium fullish background tannins and a substantial finish 50 second finish. Extremely intense but at the same time harmonious. My first tasting note, score it "99/100"

'98 d'Arenberg "Dead Arm"-  Deep purple color leading to a restrained nose suggesting road tar, crushed blackberry like fruits, Licorice, moderate toast and spice. In the mouth, the '98 Dead Arm shows plenty of power, extract and grip to go along with a good dose of medium fullish "coarse" or "angular" tannins. The Dead Arm 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 second tasting note, score it Score it "94"+! 

'98 d'Arenberg "Ironstone" Pressing-  The  Grenache based "Ironstone" Pressing was a bit out of place at this tasting. After being bombarded with Shiraz after Shiraz, it was difficult for my palate to adjust to this style of wine. Nonetheless, it is an outstanding wine! Saturated purple and ink like color. In the mouth,  the "Ironstone" Pressing literally coats the lining of the mouth with superb, opulent Grenache like flavors suggesting ripe raspberry/blackberry flavored fruit, licorice, kirsch, spicy oak and mocha like flavors. There were also significant background tannins. However these tannins are masked by the huge reserves of highly extracted, dense "core" fruit flavors. My first tasting note, score it "95+"

'98 Rusden "Black Guts" Shiraz- Deep, dense and saturated ink like color. This is another wine that I would buy on nose alone! There is an initial rush of licorice and Shiraz scented fruit that is simply sensational! Add to that  spice and toasty new oak fragrances. Fullish concentration and just loaded with massive amounts of extract and port like, black fruit  flavors. Very large scaled and massively structured. My first tasting note, score it "97"


 Conclusions:

Attempting to pick a favorite out of this field would be like splitting hairs. I mean pick your style...Want something a little Rhoneish maybe? Well then, the '97 and '98 "Run Rig's" are tops. Then again, if you like your wines bold and massively structured, surely the '98 Veritas "Hanisch" as well as the '98 Draycott Burge Reserve come to mind in haunting perfection. Not to mention the '98 Fox Creek Reserve and the '98 Rusden "Black Guts" which also fall into this category. 
 

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