Private Tasting: Australian Shiraz Blends

By Kori ~ October 7th, 2009.

2006 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet and 2006 Mollydooker Two Left FeetRecently, we had what turned out to be an Australian Shiraz blends showdown in one of our double blind private tasting dinners pitting the 2006 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet against the 2006 Mollydooker Two Left Feet. The Mollydooker is a very good wine but the Penfolds Koonunga Hill is excellent. At $8 and with a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck, the Koonunga Hills delivers phenomenal value. And according to some “experts,” it is a wine that can age for 20 years which is remarkable for a wine at this price point. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer to How We Taste.

Penfolds is one of the oldest and most well-respected wineries in Australia. Located in South Australia, Penfolds was established by a transplanted English doctor in 1844. Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold and his wife Mary built their home at Magill, near Adelaide, and surrounded it with vine cuttings they brought from the south of France. Today, Penfolds boasts two cellar doors (aka tasting rooms), one at the original Magill Estate and the other in Nuriootpa in the heart of the Barossa Valley. We had the pleasure to visit the Nuriootpa cellar door on our trip to Australia in 2005. Penfolds is most famous for its top of the line Grange wines. The Koonunga Hill wine that we had in this tasting is from one of their value lines.

Mollydooker, located in McLaren Vale just outside of Adelaide in South Australia, was founded by Sarah and Sparky Marquis in 2005. The husband and wife winemaking team had been making Australian wines for other brands for 12 years prior to starting their own winery. In four short years, they have received numerous accolades for their Mollydooker wines. By the way, Mollydooker is an Aussie term for a left hander.

2006 Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet (South Australia): 78% Shiraz, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark, inky purple. Very aromatic with black fruit and earth notes. Blackberry pie, earth, and spice come through on the palate. Full-bodied with high, drying tannins and a long finish. Extremely smooth and well-balanced.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine Exchange (California), $8; Available elsewhere, $8 to $14

2006 Mollydooker Two Left Feet (South Australia): 68% Shiraz, 17% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Extremely dark purple, almost opaque. Blackberry and vegetal aromas and flavors as well as some milk chocolate on the palate. Full-bodied and smooth with high tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $20; Available elsewhere, $20 to $33

Filed under: Australian Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Shiraz/Syrah, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Joseph Comfort | October 8th, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    C’mon guys. Why don’t you compare apples to apples???? At least get yourself wines from the same general region. Penfold’s blends from across South Australia, bought and estate grapes. MollyDooker, not the same – McLaren Vale is McLaren Vale – you can taste it. These are not the same animals – a STUPID comparison. At least get in the same dollar bracket and take the gloves off or the same neighborhood. Jesus, sophomoric. If you’re a Molly-hater, just say so. Hmm…. let’s compare a 1985 Martha’s Vineyard Heitz Cab with a Cotes de Bourdeaux.

  2. Kori | October 14th, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for reading and commenting. However, I must disagree with your assertion that wines can only be compared if they are from the exact same region or cost exactly the same amount. One of the great things about wine is that it is made all over the world, at all different price points, and it’s fun and educational to make comparisons all across the board to really determine what you like and don’t like. We find it valuable to taste wines “blind” from different price brackets in order to evaluate relative value (i.e. QPR). In the case of this particular tasting, I did not say that we were comparing wines from the same region or price point, simply that they are both Shiraz blends from Australia. We liked both of these wines; we just thought the Penfolds was a bit better. And we are certainly not “Molly-haters.” In fact, we’ve bought, tasted, and liked a number of Mollydooker wines. Cheers!