A friend brought this over for dinner one night, and I was eager to try it. What, Wine Spectator's Rhône guy was anxious to try an Aussie Shiraz? Yes ….
Australia has been getting bashed by a lot of folks lately for producing lots of nondescript, very ripe, high-alcohol wines. Some of the criticism is well-founded: A wine needs balance, and overly jammy fruit or excessive alcohol are reasons to downgrade a wine.
However, I think some of the criticism tends to come from people who either haven't tasted enough Australian wines, or simply don't like a certain style. If a wine is balanced, then it should be judged for its inherent quality, not bashed (or lauded) because of its style alone.
Greenock Creek Alices is one of those powerful Aussie Shiraz bottlings, offering a plush texture, but with focused and driven notes of racy raspberry, black currant and fig fruit layered with apple wood, mint and black tea hints. It stays really fresh on the finish, even though it's hardly bashful in style. And because of its balance (despite its style), it went well with a range of food: a roasted duck breast entrée followed by a cheese course. I rated it 93 points, non-blind.
This red is big enough to age, though I'd prefer it for its youthful vitality; I'd drink it now or over the next four or five years. The wine typically retails for about $80, though in today's market you can shop around for a deal. I recently saw the newest vintage, the 2005, being discounted to $40 a bottle, and my colleague Harvey Steiman rated that wine outstanding in his official blind tastings.