Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Henry's Drive 2006 Dead Letter Shiraz

Accolades, accolades, accolades. Henry's Drive Dead Letter Shiraz has certainly racked them up. 90 points, Wine Spectator. Best Wine of tasting, Wall Street Journal wine columnists. Parker - 90+ for past vintages.

I had a glass of this wine at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant's wine bar this summer, and wasn't overly impressed. I discounted my opinion because the wine was warm, and I've discovered this year that it's not only OK to chill your red wines, they actually taste better cooler, rather than warmer, than room temperature.

After reading the WSJ column about this wine, I wanted to get a bottle. The article reviewed mid-priced ($20-$50) Australian Shiraz, and the writers were left wanting. They did like the 2005 Dead Letter Office Shiraz, however, ranking it "Best of Tasting," with their second highest rating of "delicious," and describing it as: "Rich and complete, with layers and layers of inky yet juicy fruit. Not even a hint of flab. Could age very nicely for quite some time."

Tasting notes from Henry's Drive describe the 2006 version, the third vintage of this wine, as: "Juicy rich aromas immediately strike the nose with a wide spectrum of
fruits including raspberries, cherry and plum intermingle with milk chocolate,
vanilla bean and roasted coffee. Evidence of the multi-regional blend can be
seen with the fresh minty flavours of Padthaway and the chocolate tones
of McLaren Vale. The layers of creamy tannins form the foundation of this wonderfully opulent, fleshy and fruit driven wine. The palate is succulent with subtle, spicy integrated oak and traces of black pepper." (link to pdf with more info).

I wasn't going to pay $30+ for this wine. But when BevMo included this wine in their 5 cent sale (buy one bottle full price, get a second for 5 cents) I jumped at the chance to have a couple of bottles to try again at home.

This past Friday I felt like popping open a big, fruit-forward wine for the weekend, and naturally I thought of this Shiraz. The wine pours like syrup, and feels creamy in the mouth. Flavors of pure ripe fruit, blackberries and plums, with some spice on the finish. I tasted cardamon. As it warms, the alcohol comes out much more and the finish gets a little hot.

I liked this wine, but think it's overpriced. I wouldn't pay $33 for it (current BevMo price) though if you want to try it, BevMo still has it basically half off for its 5 cent sale (link here). I'll probably save the second bottle for a party - it's one of those wines that is enjoyable and fun, and would please a crowd. Though if you really want a similar experience at a third of the price, check out the Razor's Edge McLaren Vale Shiraz (review here).

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