Upon first experiencing Mollydooker wines, there are a number of adjectives that come to mind. Jammy, fruity, decadent, hedonistic etc. Subtle is not a word that will appear on any list of descriptors for these Australian Shiraz wines.
I recently received three different offerings of Mollydooker Shiraz as samples for review. For the benefit of anyone who wandered into the wine scene more recently, Shiraz is the Australian take on the grape Syrah. The warm climate of Australia has long produced a unique expression of the variety, much different from the Syrah based wines of the Rhône valley in France. These Australian wines tend to be higher in alcohol and jammy fruit flavors than their French counterparts. Mollydooker is one of the premier names in the Australian Shiraz market. At the recent Wine Blogger's Conference that I attended one of the wines that generated the most conversation was the Mollydooker Velvet Glove, a wine that sells for $160+ a bottle. The wine was a good example of the differing opinions on Shiraz among wine enthusiasts, as there were very mixed reactions to the wine at the conference. A good number of the bloggers felt that the wine was delicious, while many felt that the alcohol was too high on the wine and that it lacked refinement. Such divergent reactions are common with these types of wine.
The trio of wines that I am tasting represent three different price points in the line of Mollydooker Shiraz. The wines range in price from about $25-$90, and should be available at wine stores around the US. Each of these wines comes in marked at exactly 16% alcohol.
2009 The Boxer
The Boxer is the least expensive of the three wines, coming in at about $25, although I have seen it for as little as $20. At first sniff you get a good feel for what this wine is going to throw at you. I definitely get a whiff of the alcohol on the nose, as well as blueberry, cherries, vanilla, oak and spice. The palate perfectly carries through on the promises of the nose, with stewed red fruits and licorice jumping to the forefront, along with a healthy dose of alcohol. The mouthfeel is chewy and velvety. At this price, it would be hard to find a better take on Australian Shiraz.
2009 Blue Eyed Boy
The next step on the ladder is the Blue Eyed Boy, which will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 a bottle. The nose offers a bit more complexity than I found on The Boxer, with strawberry, blackberry, and vanilla will headlining, but with an almost meaty component sneaking into the mix. The palate is all dark fruit, with plums, blackberries, and a touch of coffee. Although this wine is still driven by the fruit, there is definitely a little more at work here.
2009 Carnival of Love
On the high end of the price scale, this wine comes in at around $90. It doesn't take long to tell that this is the Mollydooker wine of the three that is bringing the most to the table. The nose hits you with brown sugar, blackberry, spice, cherry and cedar. The mix of spice and fruit is intriguing. I did also get some heat on the nose of this one. The palate is another chewy, velvety experience, with tons of blackberry, cherry, spices, and a lot chocolate finish.
The takeaway on these wines really depends on what you are looking for. If you seek big, and I mean huge, hedonistic, fruity wines, then this will be right up your alley. If you are looking for subtlety and refinement, look somewhere else. I think that you really have to consider these wines in a category all by themselves, somewhere straddling the line between your standard table wine and a fortified wine. The wines are syrupy and have noticeable alcohol, but they also have incredible fruit. The problem that I see with the wines is that they are too hefty to be enjoyably imbibed by themselves in any quantity, and they really present some major problems with food pairing. Anything but a steak seems like it would be buried in the avalanche of alcohol and fruit that the wine brings.
As far as my judgment on the three different wines, I have no doubt that the Carnival of Love is the best wine of the bunch, but I would have a hard time personally spending $90 for this wine. If you are a big fan of Australian Shiraz, and have disposable income, by all means you should grab this one. Given the price points, I would be most likely to purchase The Boxer in the future, as it gives a great representation of Australian Shiraz and Mollydooker wine, but at an affordable price.