Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shotfire Ridge Barossa Cuvee 2004

Australia, Barossa Valley
Cab. Sauv., Cab. Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Merlot
13.9% alcohol

From the maker:

The colour is a deep inky purple. There is an intense lifted perfume nose of great complexity. The predominant aromas are of berry and liquorice fruit support by spicy French oak. The palate is full bodied and complex due to the five varieties used in the blend. The Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc provide wonderful upfront berry fruits, the Malbec and Petit Verdot provide great depth of flavour and intensity, while the Merlot gives the palate a wonderful suppleness. The grainy tannins add to the rich mouthfeel of the wine. There is awesome length to this wine with the berry fruit and spicy oak lingering.

I have rarely been as underwhelmed by a wine as I was by this one, ON THE FIRST NIGHT (read on for a great second-night surprise). It was not BAD, it just utterly, completely, and perfectly failed to be good. Sure, there were blackberries and vanilla, plus a hint of pepper on the nose, but that was it. Well, not exactly "it," because I forgot to mention the alcohol. Even after an hour in the glass this smelled hot. At this price point from Australia, $22 (and marked down from $29!), I expect a second layer, something more than generic fruit.

The palate was equally disappointing - blackberry, a bit of blueberry, some pepper, then, well, nothing, nada, squat. Midpalate? What midpalate? This just sat there, doing nothing, like a rock in front of the lawn mower. You're surprised it's there, you hope it will move, but it won't. Eventually, you have to mow around it or go pick it up. This wine was like that. Swish it around, breathe in some air, move it around your tongue, nothing. Eventually, all you can do is spit or swallow (why, oh why, does that have to sound so dirty?) and move on.

Mind you, I did say this wasn't BAD. It was not overoaked, too fruity, too tannic, or anything obviously bad. It just completely failed to be good.

Maybe it will be better the second night. Come back and we'll find out together.

Second night, and the first impression on the nose is still alcohol. The nose is more complex the second night. Sure, the blackberries are still there, but so is some olive, some pepper, and cherry.

The palate is far better, too. There is black and red fruit, blackberries and cherries. Chocolate follows, and mocha lingers. This is a far better wine on night two. It has dusty tannins and a medium length finish.

Wow! This wine has absolutely turned itself entirely around overnight. What does this mean? Maybe it just needs a boatload of decanting, but I suspect it needed several more years in the cellar to do it justice. This is a good wine now, one that deserves some time to mature. It is also fascinating how much it changed over a single night, even though it was well-sealed the whole time. The initial shot of air, plus some time to process it, made this wine grow up in a hurry. I wonder how it would have been if it had been able to mature slowly in the bottle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you had the patience to try this wine again the next day. Many people would have given up on it after the first disappointing day.