Saturday, February 7, 2015

Big Red Wine Flight with Pizza on Boys' Night Out

Big Red Wine Flight with Pizza on Boys' Night Out

When wine buddy and colleague Gary M brought his son Brett over to tour our cellar, they showed up with a couple of pizzas on an evening we were all bach'ing it. I was hoping (my) #1 Son Ryan could also join us but it turned out he was traveling.

We pulled (from the cellar), popped and poured some big hearty pizza wines. I wanted to show off one of my favorite Big Reds, Flinders Run Southern Flinders Ranges Shiraz, compared to another similar vintage and site selection Kaesler Bogan 2005, and another favorite high QPR favorite Shiraz Ninety-Plus Cellars Lot 101.

I've written in this blog about the producer Flinders Run Emanuel Skorpos and the Southern Flinders Range's site and their winemaking heritage.

We hold two vintages of this wine, the 2005 and the 2006 which was bigger, more brooding and bold, but less slightly polished or elegant than the '05. That said, I wanted to see how the '06 would match up alongside the Kaesler which has a similar style and character but is even moreso the traits of the '06 relative to the '05, Flinders, forward, slightly aggressive, less polished.

Flinders Run Southern Flinders Ranges Shiraz 2006

We love this wine and consider it a benchmark representation of Southern Australian Shiraz at its very best, and at a pricepoint between $25-35 it offers a relative great QPR (Quality to Price ratio). I wish I could find more of it. Not sure what happened to Flinders Run. It appeared on the market selectively for these vintages and we haven't see it since.

Like earlier comparison tasting of varied big reds, this was the hit of the evening. Consistent with earlier notes, the 2006 Flinders is dark inky purple, full bodied, powerfully scented bouquet of dark berries, smoky minerals and fresh flowers bursting with flavors of thick chewy black raspberry, blueberry and cassis with layers of nut, vanilla and hints of mocha flavors on a tongue coating lingering finish with tones of black tea and what Parker refers to as 'pain grillé' which is the French word for 'toast'. As much as we like this wine, the 2005 may be even better, being more polished, smoother and more balanced.

RM 93 points.

Kaesler The Bogan Barossa Valley Shiraz 2005

Like the Flinders, this is not for the feint of heart. This is another big bold forward wine that demands a food pairing to balance its aggressiveness. While this label tends to be popular and highly rated, it is not a style I favor, as I find it to have non-fruit characteristics predominating that detract from its appeal. Before we tasted this, I warned the guys it would be similar in style with its big bold forward approach, but the fruit would be diminished by a layer of tea, tobacco leaf and creosote. It revealed itself exactly as I predicted.

Read through the long litany of Cellartracker reviews and see the preponderance of earth, pepper, coffee, smoked meat, leather and mint, eucalyptus and  you'll see what I mean. While these are all acceptable descriptors and tones in a big forward wine, I prefer they be accents rather than the mainstream headliner tones, which has been my experience with the lesser and mid tier Kaesler labels (Oct 10, 2002, April 20, 2008,  Sept 22, 2005, February 28, 2007). Only at the high end with their ulta-premium 'Old Bastard' label (March 11, 2002, May 22, 2004, February 23, 2013), at $100+, have I experienced the fruit to predominate in their wines.

As with earlier tastings, dark inky purple garnet colored, full bodied with nose of earth, pepper and spices before revealing fruit flavors. Tones of blackberry, black cherry are overtaken by alcohol, smoke, creosote, tobacco leaf and black tea with hints of cedar and mint on the firm lengthy finish.

RM 88 points. 

Ninety Plus Cellars Columbia Valley Lot 101 Syrah 2009

Like earlier tastings, I opened this Shiraz to show a contrast in styles and regions, and age, of the same varietal. I've raved about this wine several times in this blog, and tonight, like before, it didn't disappoint, standing up to the other Big Reds. I've stated that this may be one of our favorite drinking wines in our cellar right now, certainly at this price point!

Compared to the forward, obtuse Kaeslar, the Lot 101 Shiraz came across as smooth, polished and elegant, although not as much so as the Flinders.

Dark inky garnet colored, medium to full bodied, this full throttle Syrah reveals layers of blackberry and black currants fruits with tones of sweet vanilla, caramel and spice with hints of black pepper on a lingering smooth silky tannin finish.

RM 92 points.

Ninety Plus Cellars Lot 91 Rutherford Napa Valley Zinfandel 2012

For a last comparison tasting of another Big Red, I pulled this Napa Valley Rutherford Zinfandel. The rep for this was pouring it when I stopped in Sav-Way Hinsdale the other evening and it presented itself as a big forward fruit filled easy sipper that should go well with pizza - and a good QPR at $17. When I opened it tonight against the other Big Reds, it met its match and was put in its place. When compared to the big Aussie Shiraz', this came across as lean and even a bit flabby with moderate fruit and body. By itself, it would've probably been fine for a casual easy sipping pizza wine, as prescribed, but against the big bold Barossa Shiraz', it wasn't a fair fight. 

I've written often in this blog about Ninety-Plus Cellars with their high QPR negociant offerings

Here is their listing on this Napa Valley Rutherford Zinfandel.

"Story - This winery has been harvesting Zinfandel in the heart of the Napa Valley since way back when big hair and parachute pants were popular. It's a totally righteous red made from Zinfandel ripened to perfection under the Napa Sunshine. Straight up, this is one totally awesome Zin that you'll never want to give up.'

"Tasting Notes - Inky purple with aromas of raspberries, wildflowers, and toffee that rain down upon a foundation of ripe plum, and sweet spice. A magical celebration of flavor hits you like a sledgehammer, beckoning you to give it one more try all night long. Time after time, it pairs perfectly with a grilled ribeye with or without bleu cheese. Show your true colors by sharing it with others because that's what friends are for."

Dark purple/garnet colored, medium-full bodied, blackberry and black raspberry fruits with a bit of leather and spice. 

RM 87 points.