Also recommended: 2005 Sarah's Blend South Eastern Australia (85), 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon South Eastern Australia (86), 2005 Shiraz South Eastern Australia (86). (The Grateful Palate, Oxnard, CA)
($30) Ruby-red. Oak-dominated dark berry and kirsch aromas accented by dark chocolate and vanilla. Sweet blueberry and blackcurrant flavors show a liqueur-like aspect, with a strong vanillin oak quality gaining the upper hand on the back. Finishes slightly sticky and sweet, with toasty oak spice and roasted coffee lingering. I'd have guessed this to be a shiraz, or maybe a dessert wine such as Banyuls.
($40) Saturated ruby. Powerful, room-filling aromas of dark berry compote, vanilla, chocolate, cola and espresso aromas show a head-spinning quality (this says 16.5% alcohol on the label). Fat, soft and oily, with sweet cassis, plum and blackberry flavors sweetened by mocha and vanilla. Doesn't seem especially tannic but maybe they're lurking underneath the wine's confectionary quality. An unctuous, jammy example of shiraz that could use more energy, but this style has its fans. (The other '05 releases I tasted from this producer were all solidly made but on the jammy side.)