Monday, April 26, 2010

Wine Review: Little Penguin 2008 Shiraz

"I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

Yep. We're going to Australia this week, that strange and eerie land from south of the Equator. Rockin' some Men at Work... Throwin' another shrimp on the barbie... Keeping our babies safe from dingos. Okay I'm done with the cliches.

Australia is the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world, behind France, Italy and the USA. Each year, Australia produces 25% more Shiraz grapes than it does of it's second largest crop, Cabernet Sauvignon. I chose the Shiraz (known as Syrah to the rest of the world) varietal as my yardstick for this week for that and one other reason - I've never met a Shiraz that made me chunder. In fact, it seems like just about anyone can make a decent bottle of wine from Shiraz grapes.

On top of that, I really want to focus on the kind of bottle you can find in just about ANY store. The wines I'm reviewing this week should be in any Wal-Mart, Kroger, you name it. They are available in drive-thrus... in gas stations. You won't have too much trouble finding them.

And with these wines so readily available, at such low prices - I want to equip you with a bit of knowledge for the next time you're picking up an emergency bottle at the local CVS.

Let's start with the Little Penguin 2008 Shiraz.

This bargain find is available EVERYWHERE for about $5.99. Little Penguin is a great high-production winery and has really grown to challenge Yellow Tail's market share in the past few years. NOTE: I swiped today's picture from someone else. Usually I take my own. Meh...

This Shiraz is a dark rose, almost ruby color. The nose is fairly closed, but does impart a lot of fruit - primarily strawberry. We're not talking Boone's Farm strawberry here people - but it's definitely in there. There's a little oak coming through and a whiff of smoke.

The sip is jammy - bursting with that strawberry flavor. It really feels like drinking a spiked juice box - you know, the kind... stick it in the the crumb crucher's My Little Pony lunch box with a bologna sandwich and a gogurt... send her off to school... receive a call from the principal around 1 to talk about your darling daughter. By 2 you're meeting with someone from the state about your fitness as a parent... worried you'll never see her again.

Nope? Never happened to me either. But this stuff DOES taste pretty much like that. It kinda falls apart on the mid palate and the finish is a little hot.


Though it's too fruity for my palate, this is a very drinkable wine for a very affordable price.

3 of 5 glasses

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