Wine Review: 2008 Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz

26 03 2011

My wine-loving history in a bottle.

I’m psyched about this review tonight for a few reasons.  First, I have been buying Schild Shiraz basically since I started collecting wine.  This 2008 will be the 4th vintage that I’ve purchased (making Schild my first legit vertical), and while four years isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, it takes me back to my earliest serious interest in wine, a time when ALL I drank was Australia Shiraz. (Incidentally, who DOESN’T start drinking wine via Aussie Shiraz?  It’s like the vinicultural gateway drug.)  Second, this particular bottle of Schild was the recipient of an honour this year that many $100+ bottles would kill for:  it was named the #7 wine of the year in Wine Spectator magazine’s Top 100 Wines of 2010 list.  This doesn’t mean that Wine Spectator thought that this $28 bottle of Shiraz was the 7th best wine on Earth last year, but it does mean that, when taking quality, availability, value and other factors into account, this Schild rose almost to the top of the heap.  Spectator scored it 94 points (very rare for a wine at this price point) and generally showered it with praise.  Third, unlike some of the bottles I’ve discussed in recent weeks, this one is widely available almost everywhere.  I bought this particular bottle at the Ferocious Grape, but you can pick it up across the city, even at some supermarket liquor stores (I know Co-op Liquor Stores carry it, among others).  Personal history + professional accolades + consumer availability has to equal a good review, right?  Game on!

Casual wine drinkers love Australia Shiraz because of its big, friendly fruit flavours, soft tannins and easy-drinking style.  Snobbier wine drinkers tend to look down on it because of its lack of subtlety and complexity, its overripe, overextracted fruit and its ultra-high alcohol levels.  The biggest thing this bottle of wine achieves is that it somehow bridges the gap between these two viewpoints:  it’s still friendly and fruity and fun to drink, but it has just enough layers and just enough restraint to stay in the Serious Wine conversation.  The 2008 Schild has a deep, dark, opaque maroon colour and a thick nose that screams black, black, black:  blackberry, black currant, black cherry and licorice, along with sweet baking spices and a hint of vanilla.  The black fruit brigade continues on the palate, where black currant is probably the most noticeable element, mixed with notes of cinnamon and smoke.  Unsurprisingly, this is a full-bodied wine with a lush mouthfeel, but it stops short of being syrupy or jammy; it has fairly big alcohol (14.5% on the bottle, but I bet it’s a touch higher), but it remains balanced because the booze doesn’t overwhelm any of the other elements.  Most impressively, the Schild still has a tannic backbone on the palate that many Australian Shirazes are completely lacking.  The tannins on the finish put some walls around the huge fruit flavours and make sure the whole wine stays together.

Stevlin Rating: 2/10 (I'm fine with the screwtop, but how about a little pizazz with it?)

This is a great value wine, way better than your run-of-the-mill supermarket Aussie Shiraz with a clever name and some animal cartoon on the front.  But the #7 wine of 2010?  94 points?  I’m not so sure.  It is an excellent sub-$30 example of what this varietal in this region should be, and an impressive display of quality from a wine with such gigantic production (5,000 cases, or 60,000 bottles), and it’s an all-around enjoyable drink, but I don’t think it’s my favourite of my 4 vintages of Schilds — I liked the 2005 and the 2006 better.  I still unhesitatingly recommend this for your next BBQ though…just like the name of this blog suggests, pop it and pour it with some burgers or ribs and you won’t go wrong.

90 points

$20 to $30 CDN

[Wine Jargon Notes:
vertical = a collection of consecutive vintages of the same wine; in my case, Schild Barossa Shiraz 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
overextracted = extract refers to all of the sugars, pigments, minerals, etc. that give a wine substance and increase its body, flavour and colour; overextracted wines are those where an excess of extract from the grapes makes the wine too heavy and out of balance]

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27 01 2012
Calgary Wine Life: Meet Matt Browman @ Highlander Marda Loop — Calgary Is Awesome

[…] Browman:  Most units sold goes to 2008 Schild from Barossa, Australia.  That was nuts.  [Author's note:  I bought many bottles of this.  Any Schild Shiraz delivers […]

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