Shiraz, Valle Escondido (Chile), $28-29
Top value from this small-batch Chilean. Supple, richly flavored; youthfully exuberant while maintaining a complexity sure to please fans of the top-tier Chileans. Tastes of blackberry and cherry up front but is long on the palate; lingering hints of lemongrass and smoked cedar. Should be drinkable well into 2007. If you can find a bottle, don't pass this one up.
It's May again, and I'll be taking a breather from the usual to bring you what promises to be a very unique bottle from Chile. This vintage has a certain notoriety in circles I frequent: until the 2002 vintage, this Shiraz was mistaken for (and bottled as!) a Merlot.
I uncork the bottle and I'm immediately smitten by the faint aroma of toasted oak - fairly unusual for a Chilean Shiraz. It's soft on the nose with a pleasant lingering scent of black currant. But my first tastes reveal that all is not as it seems; I'm taken slightly aback. There's more blackberry here than black currant, and a few more sips confirm that this is indeed a wine worth spending some time with.
By the second glass, one can sense a certain joie-de-vivre in the grapes themselves. It's here that the vineyard's small production reveals itself in its utter buoyancy. Slight hints of cherry and earthiness dominate. Does this wine's depth know no bounds?
...I'm on my third glass now, and I'm starting to really discover the beauty of this wine. It's not so much the teasing hint of blackberry on the nose or the sprightliness of the grape. No! The greatness of this wine is in its boldness: Fifteen-point-four percent! This is a wine that should be drinkable for a few years to come, but I assure you: you don't want to wait.
For a little bit of fun, you may want to taste your fourth or fifth glass of this alongside a slightly chilled tallboy of Rainier. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. (Think vanilla and nutella dancing a ballet on your palate.) As I near the end of this delight, I can only hope the 1.5 liter is half as good.