Wine review — Penfolds, Pikes & Pirramimma

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2003 $9 to $15
As regular cannon fodder in the Coles Myer’s First Choice versus Woolworths’ Dan Murphy discount war, Koonunga Hill’s price is periodically shot down to about $9 a bottle — hence the very large price variance encountered in retail outlets. The 2003 is another solid wine under this label and treads a path somewhere between the all-fruit style and the oak-tannin-alcohol blockbusters. The flavours are built on ripe, plummy fruit. And the structure is classic Penfolds: quite firm and tannic, without being hard, and certainly in proportion to the fruit. It’s screw-cap sealed and should drink well for another four or five years.

Pikes Clare Valley Eastside Shiraz 2003 $22 cellar door
This is a comparatively refined Clare shiraz, offering delightful perfume and rich flavours without the distraction of too much oak. It’s a ripe, generous, rounded and soft style that starts and finishes with bright varietal character. Fourteen months’ maturation in predominantly French oak seems to have provided a mellowing effect while adding just a hint of oak character that complements the fruit nicely. Without a screw cap those appealing fruit flavours may not have been so beautifully preserved. The wine may evolve well for another few years, but it’s hard to see it ever being more appealing than it is right now.

Pirramimma McLaren Vale Shiraz 2002 $26.50 cellar door
The cool 2002 vintage produced stunning reds in warmer growing regions like McLaren Vale. The unusually cool conditions created intense varietal flavour in the grapes and resulted in wines of great power with more-elegant-than-usual structure. Pirramimma Shiraz 2002 is a brilliant example of what the vintage created. In this case, thirty-year-old vines responded to ideal conditions and winemaker Geoff Johnston guided them flawlessly from vine to bottle. This is pretty close to perfect shiraz – being ripe, well structured and absolutely delicious to drink. And it has the extraordinary intensity of flavour, without heaviness, that characterises the best wines of the season.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007

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