Woody Woodcutter’s Shiraz

After a crazy first two weeks at my new job, things have quieted down a little. In fact, I’ve realized that in a strange way, I miss the constant buzz of the bullpen, even when I’m enjoying the quiet of my new office. Substantively, Tuesday was a fairly quiet day in terms of my workload, but it was a particularly good day because I found out that I will be receiving a small holiday bonus at the end of December. I was shocked, to say the least. It will be small, but that’s not the point. To find out 9 days into my new job and immediately after delivering my first big project that I was being recognized for the hard work I’d already done was a wonderful feeling. Then, as if that wasn’t good enough, I met up with a former coworker for a couple of hours of good girl talk. After that, I was off to a condo board of directors meeting. When I finally walked in the door, I was exhausted. It was a good exhausted, but I was still just ready to put up my feet and relax. As I really enjoyed previous wines that I’ve had from Torbreck Vintners, I open a bottle of the 2005 Woodcutter’s Shiraz to help warm me up and settle into what was left of the evening.

The 2005 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz (winery, snooth) was a deep ruby color with purple flecks. On the nose, there were big, juicy blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant leaf aromas, which were followed by a tough of eucalyptus. In the mouth, there were heave smoky and cedar flavors, which matched the name of the wine. Those woody characteristics were followed by black cherry, blackcurrant, and medicinal flavors. The finish was dominated by the medicinal flavors. The wine had a surprising amount of acidity, medium body, and firm tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. At $23, this wine was a disappointment. I was looking for a woody, deep wine with hints of dark fruits to sink into and instead the Shiraz tasted like something that I bought at a pharmacy. I tried drinking the wine with food in an effort to tone down the medicinal characteristics, but had no such luck. It is rare that I don’t finish a bottle of wine, but unfortunately, this is one that I just couldn’t get into. If you’re looking for a good wine from Torbreck, I definitely suggest sticking with 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles, which costs the same, but is significantly better.

Overall: 2 Corks

Woody Woodcutter's Shiraz

After a crazy first two weeks at my new job, things have quieted down a little. In fact, I’ve realized that in a strange way, I miss the constant buzz of the bullpen, even when I’m enjoying the quiet of my new office. Substantively, Tuesday was a fairly quiet day in terms of my workload, but it was a particularly good day because I found out that I will be receiving a small holiday bonus at the end of December. I was shocked, to say the least. It will be small, but that’s not the point. To find out 9 days into my new job and immediately after delivering my first big project that I was being recognized for the hard work I’d already done was a wonderful feeling. Then, as if that wasn’t good enough, I met up with a former coworker for a couple of hours of good girl talk. After that, I was off to a condo board of directors meeting. When I finally walked in the door, I was exhausted. It was a good exhausted, but I was still just ready to put up my feet and relax. As I really enjoyed previous wines that I’ve had from Torbreck Vintners, I open a bottle of the 2005 Woodcutter’s Shiraz to help warm me up and settle into what was left of the evening.

The 2005 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz (winery, snooth) was a deep ruby color with purple flecks. On the nose, there were big, juicy blackberry, plum, and blackcurrant leaf aromas, which were followed by a tough of eucalyptus. In the mouth, there were heave smoky and cedar flavors, which matched the name of the wine. Those woody characteristics were followed by black cherry, blackcurrant, and medicinal flavors. The finish was dominated by the medicinal flavors. The wine had a surprising amount of acidity, medium body, and firm tannins.

Is this worth a glass after work? Eh…if you have a bottle on hand, drink it, but I wouldn’t go searching it out either. At $23, this wine was a disappointment. I was looking for a woody, deep wine with hints of dark fruits to sink into and instead the Shiraz tasted like something that I bought at a pharmacy. I tried drinking the wine with food in an effort to tone down the medicinal characteristics, but had no such luck. It is rare that I don’t finish a bottle of wine, but unfortunately, this is one that I just couldn’t get into. If you’re looking for a good wine from Torbreck, I definitely suggest sticking with 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles, which costs the same, but is significantly better.

Overall: 2 Corks

WBW: “And just like the ocean under the moon, well, that’s the same emotion that I get from you…”

*** I received this wine as a sample***

As I mentioned in a previous post, I just received my first wine sample. I was nervous about reviewing my first sample because I didn’t want to have to post something negative coming right out of the gate, but at the same time, I wanted to be honest in my thoughts. The moment I smelled the 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles (vineyard, snooth), I knew that I not only had nothing to fear, but also that this would be a great wine for Wine Blogging Wednesday (#58).

This month’s WBW, which is hosted over at Gonzo Gastronomy, is about how music can influence the wine drinking experience. As a music lover who has played the piano since she was 5 years old and the saxophone since middle school, music has always been a part of my life. I played both instruments throughout college and graduate school, and still have a piano in my home, even though Hubby and I live in less than 800 sq ft. These days, my iPod is chock-full of everything from Rachmaninoff to Lady Gaga. That’s part of what made this WBW both exciting and daunting. In the end, I found myself with an enjoyable wine on a sing-along treasure hunt in my iTunes library.

Before I could start tasting the 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles with music, though, I wanted to set a baseline. So, I read the materials that accompanied the wine and tasted it without any music. The background information explained that Dave Powell, founder of Torbreck Wines, was inspired by a glass of Beaujolais he had while at Tim Johnston’s Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris. Powell left wanting to make a Beaujolais-esque wine at Torbreck, but since Gamay grapes are not easily available in the Barossa Valley, he opted for a blend of 60% Grenache grapes, 20% Syrah grapes, and 20% Mataro grapes.

The wine was a medium purplish ruby with very noticeable legs. On the nose, there were luscious, ripe red fruits—strawberries and raspberries—followed by a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth, the first taste had the hotness I’ve come to expected from Australian red wines. After the initial surprise of hotness, juicy red fruits—strawberries, raspberries, and cherries—emerged, followed by a touch of white pepper and cinnamon. The wine had lower tannins and acid, which makes it nice and light, and it was definitely reminiscent of a Beaujolais.

I actually drank this wine on two different nights, and the second night tasted very different. With a little more time, the Cuvée Juveniles was more jammy than juicy, and the raspberries were more prominent than the strawberries. On the second night, the wine actually reminded me more of a Châteauneuf-du-Pape than a Beaujolais. Readers who have been with me since the beginning know my love for C-d-P, so even though I really enjoyed the wine on the first night, the second night with the 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles was nearer to my heart.

Once I had tasted the wine on its own and with dinner, I started trying to find different songs to listen to while drinking the wine. Darker finds, like Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats, and sultry songs, like Chris Issak’s Baby Did A Bad, Bad Thing, dominated because the wine seemed to fit so naturally with these more moody musical choices. I could listen to them and just sink deeper and deeper into the flavors of the wine and the music.

Then I made the mistake of organizing my list by year. Before I knew it, I found finding myself detouring through the 80’s hair band section singing to Bon Jovi’s You Give Love A Bad Name, Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again, and Poison’s Fallen Angel. Of course, a look at the hair bands also meant some quality time bopping with Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Stacy Q’s Two of Hearts, as well as with boy bands Color Me Badd’s I Wanna Sex You Up and New Kids on the Block. I listened to far too many NKTOB songs, both from back in the day and from this year. Admittedly, though, while fun, none of the songs made the wine speak, or vice versa. G. Love & Special Sauce’s Baby’s Got Sauce got me back on track, as the song mixed with the strengths of the wine—hot and a bit spicy, which helps bring out a little bit of attitude.

While most of the evening was bits and pieces of songs, the following 5 songs are the ones that I really sat and listened to while trying to experience both the wine and the music together. In order of level of success (from least successful to most successful), here was my evening of music and wine:

Shaggy
Ok, I don’t know what wine would go with Shaggy—I actually tried several of his songs (Mr. Boombastic, It Wasn’t Me, That Girl, Angel)—and I just couldn’t get the wine and the music to meld in my mind. I enjoyed the wine and the music individually, but I felt I was experiencing each one its own and that the two were entirely disconnected from each other.

Smetana— Má Vlast: Die Moldau
Má Vlast is a symphony made of 6 pieces about Bohemia.
Die Moldau is one of these movements and is about the Moldau River and its growth from two small springs into a single river as the water travels through woods, meadows, and farmland of the Bohemian country side, over rocks, past the castles, and finally swirls and widens as it reaches Prague before vanishing into the Elbe River.

What I found most interesting during this listening experience was that Die Moldau followed my experiences with the wine. The melody started off light and flowing, while hinting at the dramatic, which is how the Cuvée Juveniles tasted. The fruit forwardness matched the playfulness of the melody, but the spicy, richer flavors in the wine’s finish match the fuller, serious tones of the music as both continued unfold.

Meat Loaf—Paradise by the Dashboard Light
I was surprised how my attitude towards the wine changed with this song. I actually put this song on because I saw it in my playlist and it reminded me of 8th grade dances where the boys stood on one side of the gym singing the boy’s part and the girls stood on the other singing the girl’s part. The song is fairly bee-bop with a honky-tonk piano, some drums, and a guitar—typical Meat Loaf. The wine translated from the serious brooding music I’d been listening to, to the zippy, flirtatious feel really well.

Ani DiFranco—Not A Pretty Girl
The wine fit nicely with the dark and stormy mood of DiFranco’s aggressive guitar.
Both the music and the wine really allowed for relaxation combined with a little bit of contemplation. The music isn’t sexy, so it doesn’t emphasizes that part of the wine, but the emotions of the song match the wine without either being too intense or too depressing.

Santana (featuring Rob Thomas)—Smooth
When I tasted the Cuvée Juveniles, it screamed of a sexiness, so I immediately thought of pairing the wine with Santana. I actually started with this song and backtracked from there because this wine just tasted like the warm, sensuous atmosphere I associate with Santana’s music. Both the wine and the music make you want to light some candles, close your eyes, and breathe deeply before bringing out your best Latin moves and sinking into a steamy evening.

Is this worth a glass after work? Definitely! If you see this wine in the store, grab it; you won’t be disappointed. At the suggested retail price of $25, you will have a good, versatile bottle of wine. The 2008 Torbreck Cuvée Juveniles is a good summer red, and I drank it with a grilled chicken marinated in a red wine and herbs, as well as with pepperoni and sausage pizza. Both pairings were good, although, all you really need to enjoy this wine is a bottle of it, a glass to drink it out of, and some Santana to complete the atmosphere.

Overall: 4 corks

***Special thanks to Katie for hosting a great WBW!***