Monday, March 18, 2013

Updated Review: **** and *** $ Heartland Stickleback Red, 2006 and 2007, South Australia - BEST VALUES

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Heartland Stickleback Red.

Original review, September, 2008: The Heartland Stickleback Red, 2006, South Australia, is a "practically free" red meritage made by winemaker Ben Glaetzer, who is more widely known for the "definitely NOT free" Amon-ra Shiraz. (See further below for review of the 2007 vintage.) You can buy a case of the Stickleback for the cost of a bottle of Amon-ra. What's in the bottle is a combination of South Australian varietals: 51% cabernet sauvignon, 39% shiraz and 10% grenache.

Let's see what we've got in the glass... The Stickleback shows a deep dark red velvet.

Aroma has a tad of pleasant funk, but is big, flowing, rich and plumy-deep.

On the palate, the even richness is the very first thing you notice. Smooth, round, even, big, gentle - waves of plum plus chocolate plus ripe blueberry. Very nice. Not a long tannic finish, but the fruit does seem to trail on for a bit.

A remarkable four stars for a "practically free" wine. Crazy, screaming value.

Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate awarded 90 points, writing, "The 2006 Stickleback Red is composed of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Shiraz and 27% Grenache. It was aged for 12 months in used French and American oak. This crimson-colored wine has an enticing perfume of spice box, black cherry, black currant, and blackberry. Ripe, sweet, and layered on the palate, this sensational value totally over-delivers. It will evolve for 1-2 years but there is really no reason to defer gratification."

It's interesting that Jay had a slightly different blend in his bottle - mine had more cab and shiraz, with significantly less grenache. I was more enthusiastic than he was too. But that's quibbling - go out and find some!!

Updated review, three years later, now five years from vintage date, October, 2011:  Consistent color, with deep plum nose. Soft, rich, chocolate fruit on the palate has held its age extraordinarily well.  Remains a full four stars and a best value by any reckoning.  Following long decant, full day kept cool in partially filled bottle: Highly consistent despite the long time in air - perhaps the palate is just a touch fruiter with less layered chocolate overtones. 

New original review of the 2007 vintage, cellared six years from vintage date, March, 2013:
The blend is different this year: 62% shiraz, 24% cabernet sauvignon, 7% dolcetto and 7% grenache, netting out at 14.5% alcohol. Much more shiraz-based than the 2006.  Deep, ruddy, red, opaque in the center.  Rich, deep red notes on the nose.  Soft, full, eucalyptus comes in on the palate, with deep red raspberries following.  Clean, but not long finish follows.  Full three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Not as strong as the 2006, partly because it misses the chocolate overtones, but this still rates best value status.

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Heartland Stickleback Red.

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