2006 Black Chook Shiraz-Viognier

SKU #1031230

90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Dark violet. Intensely floral nose offers pungent blackberry and cassis aromas underscored by exotic magnolia and baking spices. Sweet dark berry flavors are energized by Asian spice and mineral notes that linger impressively on the juicy finish. Lots of complexity for the money here." (July/Aug 07) Chook is Australian for chicken. And though germane this fact might be, it has nothing to do with this concentrated juicy little number from South Australia. As one might expect there is a black chicken on the label, but what really matters is the small proportion of white grapes in the bottle. Yes, that 5% viognier adds its special something in the form of femininity and perfume, just like in cote rotie. The 2005 got 91 points from Robert Parker: "A bigger, richer version of the value-priced Woop Woop, this cuvee, which is made by the irrepressible Ben Riggs, is produced primarily from McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek fruit. The result is a fabulous value composed of 95% Shiraz and 5% Viognier that is aged in mostly used French oak for eight months. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by serious blackberry and currant notes intermixed with pepper and spice. This wine offers high levels of seduction, lushness, and richness at a ridiculously low price. Enjoy it over the next 3-4 years."

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Varietal:

Shiraz/Syrah

- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.
Country:

Australia

- While it is true that the greatest strides in Australian winemaking have come in the last 30 years or so, commercial viticulture began as early as the 1820s and has developed uninterrupted ever since. The majority of the great wine regions are in the southeastern area of the continent, including Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, and Coonawarra in South Australia; Yarra Yarra Valley and Pyrenees in Victoria; and the Upper and Lower Hunter Valleys in New South Wales. Many of the wines from Southeastern Australia are based on Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon and various blends including Grenache and Mourvedre. In Western Australia, along the Margaret River, great strides are being made with Pinot Noir as well as Bordeaux-styled reds. There are also many world-class releases of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from the land Down Under, where Riesling also enjoys international acclaim. While many equate Aussie wines with “value,” there are more than a few extremely rare and pricey options, which never fail to earn the highest ratings from wine publications and critics throughout the world. View a list of bestselling items from Australia.