Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Chapel Hill Shiraz 2002 (McLaren Vale)

Chapel Hill Shiraz 2002 (McLaren Vale)

13.5% alcohol

We drank this with a hearty beef and mushroom stroganoff. The wine maker's tasting notes are here. They suggest blueberry, licorice and white chocolate flavours whilst the label suggests spiced red berries and plum flavours with velvety tannins. Is this a contradiction or are they suggesting it is an extremely complex wine? How much is marketing and how much is truth? Gee, it gets confusing when you are just an amateur like me!

I certainly found the wine a dark red with luscious ripe berries and a touch of pepper or spice. I found no licorice, plum or white chocolate - but that may just be me. The tannins were genuinely gentle, but velvety?? There is a lovely balance, and some good intensity and length, to the wine but I think the wine maker's notes suggest a complexity that isn't there. This is not to say there is no complexity whatsoever. I really enjoyed the wine and would be happy to buy it again.

Here we go fellas - and now for the big one - GW, Ed, Murray, Cam, TWC - are you ready???? My first attempt at scoring a wine!!! (thanks Ed for the tips on scoring in your recent post)

I believe, on the Jancis Robinson scale: 16.5 - 17 points (I have to give a range - it's a confidence thing). It is more than average but distinguished, and somewhere between superior and a cut above superior. I guess this translates to around 85-88 Parker points. If 80 is barely above average and 90 is a very good wine, then this wine is somewhere in the middle to upper end.

Phew!! That was hard! (my apologies to Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson). I hope I haven't offended too many real wine critics and wine professionals with my notes. I also hope I haven't offended the hard working people at Chapel Hill. If I have, they need to remember that I am just an amateur with a very small audience and no sway whatsoever on the drinking public. My wife just thinks I am a raving lunatic - she pays no attention, so why should you?

I do want to raise one issue for comment though. Whilst I am not bagging the wine I tasted (because I really enjoyed it), I do question some of the marketing hype. Not just for Chapel Hill but for almost every wine. I am not against marketing 'puffery' because I understand wine makers have to compete and try to differentiate themselves, so as to stand out in a market that is being flooded by thousands of competitors. That said, I do believe marketing loses its effectiveness when the average punter cannot equate the product to the hype.

This wine is good enough to speak for itself, but I guess the real battle is getting the punter to try it. But having made that sale, if the product doesn't deliver all that's promised a consumer may feel a little let down. I do not have an answer, just a question - where is the balance?? I am glad I am not a wine maker and just here appreciating their talents and the fruits (pun intended) of their labour.

(Many thanks to Penelope Elliott from Chapel Hill for the photo and the kind permission to use it)


Blogger Edward said...


Well done - There's no turning back now!

10:39 AM  

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