Monday, September 19, 2005

Marquis Philips and Grateful Palate –Australian Wines for the American Palate?
Sarah and Sparky Marquis, in partnership with their importer, Dan Philips of the Grateful Palate, are responsible for the Marquis Philips range of wines. With the exception of the Integrity Shiraz these are relatively inexpensive offerings, only the Shiraz 9 and Cabernet Sauvignon S2 are priced over $30USD. A recent tasting of the 2004 Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sarah’s Blend, and Shiraz showed them to be ripe styles that provide plenty of flavor and reasonable value. The 2003 Shiraz 9 is an expressive version of South Australian Shiraz, although it’s not the “classic South Australian Shiraz” that Robert Parker describes it. There are other wines from 2003 that are considerably better attempts at Shiraz, and some are better value.

Dan Philips imports more than just Marquis Philips. Last week I tasted through just shy of a dozen of them. There was more variety and variability than the Marquis Philips wines. But oddly enough the best demonstration of the tasting was the 2004 Marquis Philips, Holly’s Blend. This started out with very unpleasant sulphur stink that finally blew off to reveal some pleasant fruit aromas from this Verdelho based wine. The only two reds that I would recommend are the 2003 Lengs & Cooter Shiraz and the 2001 Scarpantoni, School Block. That’s not to say that the remaining wines have serious faults. It was only the 2003 Paringa, Cabernet Sauvignon that fell into that category. The Lengs & Cooter and Scarpantoni offer better value than the others. The surprise of the reds was the 2003 Henry’s Drive Shiraz. This is the third time I have tasted this wine in the last six months and while its always a pleasant wine to drink, it is never the same. It is not a wine that I have added to my cellar, but I always look for the Henry’s Drive wines because they are an interesting experience in what is popular in the American wine market.

The wine of the Grateful Palate tasting was the 2002 Lillypilly Noble Blend from the Riverina region of New South Wales. This region is perhaps better known as the home of Casella Wines, the makes of Yellow Tail. However Riverina wineries are establishing themselves as makers of sweet white (dessert) wines, the best known being De Bortoli Wines Noble One. The Lillypilly is an excellent example of what is happening with this wine style in Australia, and at $12USD is outstanding value. Chase it down!

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