Thursday, December 3, 2009

***+ $ Tortoise Creek Shiraz, 2007, Languedoc, Vin de Pay d'Oc, France

Find Tortoise Creek Shiraz at WineZap.

By way of background: Tortoise Creek Shiraz is built from grapes acquired from a number of vineyards near the village of St. Chinian in the southwest area of France, called Languedoc. It is finished at 13.5% alcohol.

In the glass: Tortoise Creek Shiraz shows as deep magenta red throughout the glass.

On the nose: Aromas are shy, a bit funky, earthy and plummy. Sort of a note of salad dressing in there too.

On the palate: A much fuller mid-mouth attack than expected is the first thing you notice. It is actually lush. Rich blueberries roll back along your tongue, bringing along with them an even alcohol robe. A slightly redder note of unsweetened cherries comes in too, along with a touch of charcoal oak. Then Tortoise Creek takes up languid presence in the corners of your cheeks.

And the finish: Smooth, even glide into a clean finish, showing just a bit of sweetness in your cheeks.

In summary:
Full-on experience once past the lack-luster aromatics. Three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, as I would definitely consider a return engagement. Outstanding value.

With a couple of hours of decant, Tortoise Creek Shiraz becomes an even fully-knit experience, adding smooth tobacco to the flavor profile. That will give it a plus for potential too.

Based on the improvement with a brief decant, I chose to make a further experiment: let's see what happens with a full 24-hour decant... something you'd very rarely - if ever - want to do with a modestly-priced shiraz. In fact, this is something you'd rarely - if ever - want to do with ANY wine. But, hey, I'm here to serve! Let's see what happens, using our same reviewing protocol:

In the glass: No change to the color - remains deep magenta red, moving to opaque in the center of the glass.

On the nose: Aromas actually grew a bit bolder, developed some nerve as the Tortoise Creek Shiraz aged. Now you pick up distinct sweet plums, lost the salad dressing.

On the palate: Still a first sweet blueberry attack on the front of your tongue, bringing a bit of sandiness. The alcohol twang has faded a bit, but the red cherry edges still come to your cheeks.

And the finish: Sweet and sour cherries stay lodged in your cheeks for quite awhile.

In summary: Remains a solid experience, even after a full day's decant! Pretty remarkable for a wine at this attractive price point. Solid three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with the plus still there for its promise.

Based on the decanting experience, don't be afraid to put a bottle of Tortoise Creek Shiraz into your cellar for a few years - after enjoying a first bottle right away, of course!

Find Tortoise Creek Shiraz at WineZap.

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