Wine: Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz
Region: Southeastern Australia
Availability: Widely available in retail stores, including Trader Joe’s
In the glass: Penfolds Koonunga Hill wine is a deep purplish-red color with a dense opaque core going out into a fine violet-red rim definition with streaks of crimson and high viscosity.
On the nose: This wine has a lot going on, with soft, ripe freshly crushed black cherries, blueberries, creme de cassis, almost buttery spicy components of vanilla, raspberry zest, creme brulee, extract of licorice root, eucalyptus leaves, phenolics, mocha and toasted oak references.
On the palate: It coats the mouth with slightly spicy black and red berry fruits, blackberry liqueur, cassis, boysenberry sorbet, raspberry coulis and licorice components. The midpalate is very fresh with minty black currants and brambleberry fruit, then showing nice balance with tannins kept in complete harmony by the fruit and the alcohol, going into the tasty long finish that again lingers with red licorice Twizzlers and cherry liqueur. It is an overachiever in its class.
Odds and ends: This is the first wine I ever reviewed in this column just about 14 years ago and now, nearly 800 columns later, I find myself coming back to this perennial everyday drinking value champion of a wine. It comes from Penfolds, which is a giant Australian wine company with a strong lineup of wines, right from this one all the way up to the top wine, called Grange, which happens to be Australia’s most famous wine. There is a little bit of a relationship between them and that is some of the juice that goes into Grange comes from the vineyards that produce this wine, which is widely available and sells for less than $10. Talk about a value! As they say Down Under, “It’s the end of the barbie season …” and they mean the grill, so anything medium-rare and preferably good organic grass-fed beef is a great companion to this always tasty and highly recommended wine. Drink it through 2016.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.