Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kilikanoon and Arns - Big Shiraz Duel For Celebration Dinner

Big Shiraz Duel For Celebration Dinner - Arns and Kilikanoon

What fun!. For a personal celebration dinner, I chose two favorite best drinking bottles from the cellar - an interesting comparison of Shiraz/Syrah from Australia and Napa Valley. When we think of Syrah, aka Shiraz, we think of south central Australia. When we think of Napa Valley, we think of Cabernet Sauvignon.

One of the discoveries of our recent Napa Wine Experience 2013 was this Syrah from Napa Valley Pritchard Hill. More surprising was that we found this Syrah at a classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon producer, Arns. Further irony of this is that while we found this Pritchard Hill Syrah at Arns Estate on Howell Mountain, a focus of this trip was our visit to Pritchard Hill  with our visit to David Arthur the next day.We tasted these wines, BYOB at Angelis Italian, our favorite local trattoria.This is the second blockbuster Napa Valley Syrah we've found recently, the other being the spectacular Kongsgaard Napa Valley Hudson Vineyard Syrah 2007.

Arns Syrah Melanson Vineyard 2008

The husband wife team of John Arns and Sandi Belcher produce hand crafted full artisan Estate bottled Cabernet Sauvignon from their 10 acres of vineyards on lower Howell Mountain just east of St Helena. We met John at the estate as the first stop of our Napa Valley Wine Experience 2013. We weren't expecting to taste a Syrah but we're glad we did. John sources the grapes for this wine from the Melanson Vineyard up on Pritchard Hill where he and his team manage the viticulture. It did not disappoint.

This full throttle Syrah ended up being one of the highlights of our Napa extended weekend. So for a special celebration dinner this evening, I wanted to compare this Napa sensation against a benchmark Aussie Shiraz.

From my tasting at the winery, the Arns exhibited dark inky garnet color, full bodied, powerful but polished forward flavors of black berry and hints of blue fruits, layers of cassis and mocha, hints of clove, violets, leather and olive with a long lingering firm but silky tannin finish. Much like a big Southern Aussie Shiraz. 14.8%.

RM 93 points.

Kilikanoon Barossa Valley 'R' Shiraz 2002

What better benchmark Shiraz to compare our new-found Napa discovery than the flagship label from Kilikanoon, the Australian Winery of the Year for 2013. Their Reserve 'R' label is their top label, their finest Barossa Shiraz cuvee from selected single parcels of tiny yielding old vines Shiraz from the Greenock, Vine Vale and Ebenezer sub regions. It is matured for 28 months in small 100% new French oak casks striving for a wine of 'great varietal strength, poise and ageing potential'.

I love their 'Oracle' label full throttle Shiraz, but for this special tasting, I chose their 'R' label, whimsically for my namesake initial wine, in the same way I choose Lewis with their 'L' label for special dinners celebrating Linda and Lucy.

From the winemaker's notes - "Powerfully built yet elegantly restrained, a compelling mix of riper fruit flavours, dark chocolate and fine French oak spice, with outstanding persistence and complexity. Full bodied, rich, ripe plum, black raspberry, subtle blueberry, hints of tar, vanilla, pepper, and graphite on a flavorful finish.

RM 92 points.