Wine Review: 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz

Hey y'all - I'm back! Had a great trip to Korea, and lots of posts and pictures will be forthcoming this week. Stay tuned Tuesday and Thursday for some discussions of Korean wine (yes, there is such a thing), the epic Korean spirit, soju, and what on earth you'd pair with black pork, mung bean, or squid ink. I know, I've got you all in suspense.

In the meantime, it's back to the Sunday Wine Review. Today I'm reviewing a bottle that was produced in Australia, but was sipped in Korea. It was gifted to my mother by one of her dear friends, then unceremoniously shoved in a suitcase and onto the 14 hour plane ride with us to Seoul, where it was finally consumed my me, my mom, and my brother on a hotel patio over looking the city on the last night of our trip. (Notably, this wine was sipped after an epic trip to the Seoul night market, where we stuffed ourselves with, among other things, blood sausage, jopchae, mung bean jeon, and kimchi.)

The Mollydooker (Australian slang for "left-handed") Velvet Glove Shiraz is a wine to be savored. Indeed, as soon as I saw it was from McLaren Vale, I knew were in for a treat. My New World palate favors big, bold, fruit forward, "hot" wines. - and for people like me, wine dreams are made in McLaren Vale. Especially with Shiraz.

Before we get into the wine notes, let me eliminate any confusion you may have at this point about Syrah and Shiraz. They are varietally identical - they are the same grape. Shiraz is simply the name given to Syrah when it's grown in Australia and other pockets of the New World. However, the stylistic differences between Syrah and Shiraz are pronounced enough to consider them distinct varieties. Syrah shows famously in the Northern Rhône, in France, where it is famous for its earthy power and spicy herbal, meaty aromas. Shiraz, on the other hand, contains the same power but is noted for its rich notes of blueberries, black cherries, black currants and pepper.

The latter characterizes the Velvet Glove. This is not a wine to be trifled with - indeed, it's abundance of flavor and character more accurately make it a metal fist in a velvet glove! On the nose is a bouquet of intensely spiced fruit aromas reminiscent of a mulled cider, with baked plum, blackberry jam and mocha. I also picked up a hint of eucalyptus, which is unique to wines grown in Australia. On the palate, the wine showed elegance, power and complexity: the ripe fruit yielded secondary flavors of cedar, anise, leather, violets, smoke, tobacco, and chocolate.  For me, the wine drank like a slice of chocolate ganache - at once rich, sweet, savory and mouth coating. Hence the moniker, Velvet Glove.

Unsurprisingly, Robert Parker and Wine Spectator (both reviewers prize fruit forward, aromatic wines) rated the Velvet Glove off the charts. Demand for the wine was also high, in part because of an accident at the warehouse that destroyed about 1/3 of production and limited available cases. Nothing like scarcity to trigger a run on a bottle - especially one this good!

The rating on this one is obvious - wine enlightenment, without a doubt!

Rating: Squee….! Retail price: approximately $184 (but good luck finding any...) You’ll like this wine if you like: California Cabernet Sauvignon, Amarone, Petite Sirah