Friday, April 17, 2009


The Gemtree Shiraz was the winner of the night. From the McLaren Vale Region, this is a wine that likes to tell you its story. The label of the wine( great design by the way) explains how the owner/operators of Gemtree are committed to the building of a wetland in the middle of the their vineyard along with the planting of native trees and vegetation in a larger push to green Australia.

And that's great. The wine also happens to be good - and that makes their push to make Australia a greener pasture even that much better.

After two powerful, heavy shiraz wines, the 2007 Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz proved to be a smooth and balanced wine.

This wine had a great peppery nose with hints of leather and blackberries. Unlike the Winner's Tank and the Boxhead, however, its dark fruits had been tamed. This wine was really balanced and drinkable.

Now red-staters might think that the high rating the group gave this wine is because we're Hollywood crackpots with a soft spot for some Australian vineyard claiming the badge of eco-friendliness because they're building wetlands for some nearly extinct frog. This is not the case. Peer reviewed, this was the highest scoring wine of the night.

I also feel that this was the easiest drinking wine of the night - because it was so smooth. The rough edges of the other shiraz wines had been rounded and polished in the Gemtree. And right in the $9.99 sweet spot for the BBS group.

All in all, Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz is a great buy.

RATING: 4 Screwcaps ( wetlands restoration or no this is a good wine)
LABEL: Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz
GRAPE: Shiraz
PRICE: $9.99

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2008 BOXhead Shiraz

Here's a wine with a great label and some decent taste. One of Silver Lake Wine's( on Glendale Boulevard in Silver Lake) 13 bucks out the door specials ( a 13 dollar wine seems to be a recurring theme from Silver Lake Wine when our Brown Bag agents ask for a great wine for 12.99 or less), this was the second of a string of powerful Aussie reds we tasted that night. With a big alcohol nose and a bigger alcohol content of 14.5%, this juice could have powered Mad Max's V-8 Interceptor across the wasteland and beyond Thunderdome( sorry - had to inject a Mad Max ref at some point in a series of postings about Australian wines).

This is a wine exhibiting a lot of dark fruit with a nose of figs, boysenberry, and some serious dirt earthiness it is big, strong fruit distilled into shiraz. Not necessarily a bad thing if you are prepared for it.

The talk back notes I got from the group were mixed. Some people enjoyed it. One of the tasters remarked that the wine was about a 1.5 screwcap rating - but taken with some cheese - the flavor got a boost.

This was part of a series of wines during the night that lead some people to think that maybe they don't like Australian wines. That perhaps the flavor is too concentrated. Too powerful. I do think that if you like wines with strong fruit then you might really enjoy Boxhead Shiraz.

The Boxhead like the Lanhorn Winner's Tank before it, ultimately, might be lacking in balance.

Something which the next wine from the night( which I'll post about tomorrow night), the Gemtree Shiraz really seemed to get right.

Overall... the Boxhead was good, but for 13 bucks.... it didn't make many Brown Bag friends. Which is unfortunate since Brown Bagger Mike has had a string of hits from his local wine shop Silver Lake Wines where he also picked up this bottle of Boxhead.

RATING: 1.75 Screwcaps
LABEL: Boxhead Shiraz
GRAPE: Shiraz
PRICE: 12.99