Saturday, October 26, 2013

Amon-Ra Barossa Shiraz 2008

Amon-Ra Barossa Shiraz 2008 Overpowers Italian Dinner

For our special getaway weekend to NY/Hoboken to visit son Alec, we picked up this special wine to take for a BYOB dinner. We chose the wine and then settled on a restaurant and despite the pairing being less than ideal, the wine and the dinner individually were wonderful. 

We dined at Cafe Michelina a short walk from son Alec's place - trendy' lively and quaint  traditional Italian featuring pasta dishes with some select seafood and chicken entree's. 

If you read this blog, you'll see continually that we, and especially Linda, love big bold Shiraz, so she selected this label for tonight's dinner. This was our first adventure tasting the classic AMON-Ra and this is indeed a BIG wine ...  not for the feint of heart!  While it overpowered our Italian fare and begs for a big steak, dark chocolate or hearty cheese,it was delicious none-the-less.

AMON-Ra is the flagship wine of the Glaetzer Family who have been producing Barossa Valley wines since 1888. We hold several Glaetzer wines going back a decade including one of our favorites, GoDolphin, which has since been discontinued, Wallace, Annaperenna and Bishop. The branding and labels for these wines all feature hieroglyphic symbols from ancient Egyptian mythology.  

Since AMON-Ra was considered to be the king of all gods, winemaker Ben Glaetzer chose that symbol for his flagship, top of the line ultra-premium label. Perhaps this is fitting since the temple of AMON-Ra was believed to be the first temple to ever plant a vineyard to produce wine for the citizens of the temple.

The eye on front of the AMON-Ra label is the all-seeing eye of Horus or wedjat ("whole one") - a powerful Egyptian symbol of protection. It is represented as a figure with six parts, corresponding to what Egyptians regarded as the six senses; touch, taste, hearing, sight, smell and thought.
Ben created AMON-Ra Shiraz to appeal to all these six senses. And it certainly does! 

Fruit for Glaetzer wines is sourced from the small sub-region of the northern Barossa Valley called Ebenezer. Some of the vines are as up to 80-120 years old. The 2008 release of AMON-Ra Shiraz is the eighth release of this label. The 2008 vintage in the Barossa was a difficult year for wine producers due to a heat spike during the vintage. As a result, Glaetzer limited the total production of AMON-Ra to maintain the quality of the wine. The strict fruit selections were rigorous and uncompromising to sacrifice quantity for quality resulting in the smallest volume released since the tiny 2003 vintage, lower than the 2007 production. This required carefully monitoring the vines and making multiple passes through the vineyards carefully selecting only grapes with the right intensity of fruit and balancing different levels of ripeness before the heat spike overstressed the fruit

This release was produced by winemaker Ben Glaetzer who was New World Winemaker of the Year in 2006. According to the producer, "the 2008 vintage shows great purity of fruit and firm but fine tannins, giving great structure and power to the wines."

This was dark inky purple colored, full bodied, dense powerful and concentrated with a firm structured core of fruit yet nicely balanced. The bright aromatic fruit scents filled the room upon opening - the flavors were of ripe sweet dark berry, cranberry, boisenberry with a layer of mild licorice and tones of spice turning to smooth silky clinging tannins on the long finish.

RM 93 points.

More on our getaway weekend and dining experience to come ...

Château Haut-Brisson La Réserve 2009

Château Haut-Brisson La Réserve St Emilion Grand Cru 2009 BYOB at Anthony David's Hoboken

We selected this Grand Cru St Emilion to take BYOD to trendy Anthony David's Gourmet just a couple blocks from son Alec's place in Hoboken thinking it would go with a variety of dishes including a hearty beefsteak. Succumbing to the peril of buying wine on the road for an occasion as opposed to sourcing from the cellar (due to TSA carry-on bag restrictions), we drank this wine far too young/early. The tight tannins should soften with some aging hopefully rendering this a bit more approachable. 

The marketing appeal of this label might have been enhanced by the oversized hefty bottle packaging but of course it didn't enhance the wine. Medium-full bodied, dark purple in colour, moderately complex but a bit disheveled, (Parker called it 'unevolved'), the black cherry with a hint of tartness predominated over the black berry fruit and the terroir elements of black tea, leather and hint of tobacco on a tight tannin finish. Parker said it will benefit from 5-7 years of cellaring and I would echo that advice. 

RM 90, RP gave this a 92. 

Blend - 85% merlot 10% cabernet sauvignon 5% cabernet franc.

The wine was a wonderful complement to Anthony David's foie gras, but then it was so rich and flavorful with the toast points and black cherries that any wine would've been enhanced. The Haut-Brisson was also a perfect complement to the Anthony David's demi-glaze sauce on my rib-eye steak entree. The highlight of Alec's seared sea scallops was the creamed corn accompaniment. Linda's chose the special red snapper. The chocolate and pistaschio ice creams were wonderful.