I’m a tough grader when it comes to five-star wines. Five stars in the Spirit of Wine scale means “Get between me and this bottle of wine at your own risk.” Those are fighting words, and represent how strongly I feel about five star wines! So, out of over 600 wines reviewed for Spirit of Wine, here are the five-star selections, representing less than 2% of those I’ve sampled. I’ve also included links to current vintages and inventory on WineZap, where appropriate:
Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
(Tasted 2006 vintage) Perfectly opaque in the glass, turning purple just at the rim. The violets and cream nose shows just a touch of light milk chocolate too. A bit of alcohol heat pumps out in the aroma this time, since the bottle is at a warm room temperature, having just come off a UPS truck. This nose is like a pleasant dream. But the good thing is, you’ll wake up to a sip! On the palate, you get that chocolate-covered, plumy-sweet grape sensation all over your mouth… top, bottom, sides… the intense, deep fruit stands up to the 16.0% alcohol and lasts and lasts and lasts.
Oliverhill Jimmy Section Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
(Tasted 2005 vintage) In the glass, Jimmy Section is an opaque blood red, just a glint of transparency at the edge. Aromas tumble nicely from the glass: fresh-crushed black cherries that burrow right into your brain. Just a touch of deep funk pools into an oil-slick aroma.
On the palate, furry, creamy, sweet-cherry is the first note, resolving into a mouth-coating robe of deep fruit, tannins and light acids. The finish goes on forever – you almost don’t need to take another sip. Of course, you will. And another. And another…
Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
(Tasted 2006 vintage) Opaque magenta in the glass. Aromas are a bit restrained fruit, cream and oak. But the palate is not restrained at all. It contains virtually every red wine attribute you’ve ever experienced: chocolate, plums, bramble, fruit. Luscious, lasts forever.
Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
(Tasted 2005 vintage) Deep magenta in the glass. Lovely aromas of creamy plums and tannins. On the palate, a lovely, sweet, deep, layered, bold fruit. Finishes long, sweet, enormous. Oh my, oh my.
John Duval Entity Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
(Tasted 2005 vintage) Even as the wine is poured into the glass, the room is hit with a noticeable deep cocoa aroma. Color is a deep, opaque mid-red, not turning at all magenta or purple. On the nose, distinct alcohol pushes up an aroma of licorice, black cherry and beets – less chocolate as you approach the wine. There is just a touch of stem there too – not old world earth – but a bit of dusty wood. The palate also brings a speck of loamy earth, pressed against some wonderfully balanced fruit.
You don’t notice tannins, but you do notice an easy, lengthy finish – something must be making this last and last and last – gotta be the tannins, right? And the chocoloate is there, in the form of slightly dark chocolate-covered cherries. I’m misleading you if I make you think “sweet” or “candy” though – it’s dry, round, lengthy. Very nice indeed – elegant, extracted and balanced. And there, wayyyyyyyyyy in the distance, long after the wine is sipped, is a hint of old world… just the tiniest hint. It will be fascinating to watch the evolution of this – with air, and over time.
Merriam Jones Vineyard Cabernet Franc – Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma CA
(Tasted 2003 vintage) A red, black new cabernet color, with an appealing aroma of light chocolate and cabernet fruit. Very inviting. On the palate, mouth filling, pleasing, round cabernet follow-through on the light chocolate promise, wrapped in velvet robes. Delicious finish, trailing long and gracefully into the plush, fine-tannined horizon. Yummy.
Yalumba Winery Museum Muscat Barossa
(Tasted non-vintage bottling) Think orange chocolate carmel… as you sink into a thick lounge chair on a cold evening. A bright citrusy. orange nose and flash in the thick carmel sweetness. Finish lasts and lasts. Very nice, surprising, distinctive and well-liked by everyone. Remarkable deal too.
Mollydooker Shiraz Cabernet Merlot Two Left Feet – Australia
(Tasted 2005 vintage) Comfort AND Structure. Wow. The nose and structure of a violet cab/merlot, with the comfort, sweet fruit and soft resonance of shiraz in the middle and finish. Such an easy, lingering finish it is too. The real deal – a complete experience in a modestly priced bottle. Blend is 65% Shiraz, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon and 19% Merlot.
Kumkani Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon – Stellenbosch, Africa
(Tasted 2002 vintage) At the price, incredible. Almost opaque deep purple. Smoke, roasted game, dark fruit. Reasonably lengthy finish. Again, I say, Wow.
And, for good measure, here are a couple of additional five-star findings, without tasting notes:
Calistoga Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, 2003, Napa, CA
Earthquake Petit Syrah, 2004, CA