January 17, 2007

2004 De Lisio Krystina Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia

Inky. Dark. Rich. Intense. That pretty much describes this wine. It knocked us over after spending months drinking mostly pinot noir, sauvignon blanc and Burgundian chardonnay. This wine came out swinging.

Shiraz in Australia is what the syrah grape is called in most of the rest of the world. The name Shiraz comes from the area of the Persian Empire where legend locates the origination of this grape. That whole area, what is northern Iran into southern Georgia, is considered by some to be the birthplace of the wine we drink today. I'm sure the Romans would like some credit as well, but they were just the messengers... right? Wrong. Genetic testing of cuttings from both areas have proven that the syrah vines of the Rhone Valley region in France were in fact native to that area and not transplanted "original" Shiraz vines. It still makes for a good story, though. Syrah cuttings from the Rhone Valley made their way to Australia during the 1830's, and became Shiraz through a number of labeling mistakes. Today, Shiraz makes up about 40% of the vineyards of Australia and in many ways has become an obsession with the Australian wine industry.

The winemaker, Tony De Lisio, is an Italian immigrant (il mio fratello!) to Australia and has been working with wine in McLaren Vale for over thirty years. He is a veteran, and a very well respected winemaker. He chooses only the best fruit for his wines, and labors over them intently.

Back to this particular wine. It is named after his wife, Krystina, and he points out that this is because of the incredible support required to be able to create such excellent wines (it says so right on the bottle). It is excellent, and quite potent. We decanted it and the color was so deep and intense that light hardly penetrated it at all. The nose was full and rich with blackberries and a notable sweetness. The palate was explosive with big berry flavors, really subtle tannin and terrific structure. I can't imagine what this wine will be like in five years or so, but it was wonderful to try it now. Normally, we do not favor wines that are so intense and often find them to be too over-the-top. Despite the intensity and massiveness, there was still a very balanced quality to this wine. It was a great surprise and a nice departure from our traditional choices. This would be a terrific wine with beef tenderloin or a rich bison preparation. I cannot wait to try more wines from Tony De Lisio. Buon lavoro!

cost - $41.99

winecommando rating (1-10) - 9

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