Along with the McClaren Vale, the Barossa Valley is considered one of the top areas in Australia for producing world-class wines from the Syrah grape.  Down under, they call the grape Shiraz, and are often made from ancient vines of 50, or even 100 years of age, generating wines of unparalleled richness and intensity.

Perhaps the most flavorful tasting yet.  I almost struggled to keep up with note taking on everyone's comments, and filled a full page per wine with taster's descriptions.  These were not shy wines.  Tasters enjoyed the full-bodied, rich, and effusive character evident in every bottle.

In another very close race, the top two were separated by only 3 points, with tasters changing their minds about scoring up until the very end.

Always a welcome result, the winner was a bargain at $16, and the second place only $18 . . . small amounts of money for such big wines, from a very revered appellation.

First Place:  Charles Cimicky Shiraz Barossa "Trumps" 2003.  Unfiltered.  Thick.  Nose was dominated by lavender, as well as a floral quality mingled with earthy, mold-like scents.  David detected roasted meat on the nose, while Kristin felt it was inky, saying "you could put it in your pen".  Tasters noted that the wine had a bit weaker attack, but a exceptionally strong mid-palate of blackberry, licorice, and black tea.  Very long finish.  Stephen described the wine's floral characteristics as reminding him of Beaujolais.  David and Ali adored this wine for its nose and its refined manner.  Received 25 total points.  Ali's bottle.  A steal at about $16.

Second Place: Wolf Blass Shiraz Barossa "Gold Label" 2002.  Thick.  Nose had a pronounced spice quality to it, like clove or cinnamon.  Sarah detected beef jerky scents.  Flavors of blackberry, raspberry, and oak.  Texture was silky and mouth coating, with an extremely long finish.  Andy said that it was "a meal in itself", while David praised it for having balanced components.  This was an early favorite.  Received 22 points.  Andy's bottle.  About $18.

Third Place: Two Hands Shiraz Barossa "Bad Impersonator" 2002.  Tasters described a prominent tobacco component to the nose, with Ali suggesting "totally nicotine".  Complex bouquet of vanilla, brown sugar, dried herbs, licorice, sawdust, and dark tea.  Very thick, almost syrupy.  Stephen noted that it "stains the glass".  The palate was plumy, with blackberry and prunes.  The most peppery of the night.  Andy suggested that it would be "good with anything off the grill".  Long finish.  The highest in alcohol, with a whopping 14.7%.  Received 17 points.  David's bottle.  About $45.

The Others:

Charles Melton Shiraz Barossa 2000.  Offered a bouquet of tomato, blackberry, plum, tobacco and dried herbs.  On the palate, tasters noted black licorice, coffee, strawberry, and ink.  Sarah felt the acidity stood out a little, while Kristin noticed the tannins.  Dusty.  Ali described it as "like burnt tomato sauce".  14.5% alcohol.  Received 16 points.  Sarah's bottle.  About $29.

Yalumba Shiraz Barossa 2001.  Clear.  Scents of blackberry, cotton candy, brown sugar, and tar.  Flavors of black licorice, butter, black pepper and vanilla.  Kristin noted rubbing alcohol on the nose, and felt it tasted like something from a bakery.  Ali felt that it was "agreeable", and while David enjoyed it, he thought it was "simple".  Not as thick or as long as the others.  Received 10 points.  Kristin's bottle.  About $20.

Thorn-Clarke Shiraz Barossa "William Randall" 2001.  Almost black.  Not as much sediment as the others.  Displayed aromas of dark cherry, maple syrup, and pepper.  Had a strong iodine, medicinal quality, like cough syrup and licorice.  Oaky mid-palate, with smoke, black cherry and coffee.  Kristin felt it was much too thick, and had a strong aversion to it.  David felt it was too "monolithic".  No points.  Stephen's bottle.  About $30.
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