12/10/97 1995 Charles Cimicky Signature Shiraz Barossa Valley Australia. $17. In my early days of learning about wine, both Janet and I were eager to buy full cases of wines we loved. Janet didn't really care that much for this wine, but I got a real bargain -- the wine store was in a lousy location and would soon go out of business. And Jerry Mead flogged it hard -- Jerry never misled me with a wine he liked, especially those he said would age well, and this wine was no exception.
Wine X. "An exclamation made by many of the Aussie winemakers and purveyors made when something was particularly impressive was "it's a ripper", only they pronounced the word without the 'r' sound at the end. In that spirit, we present a couple of 'rippahs' we found in our last go round. This label came to us earlier this year with a 1994 signature and a huge reputation. The wine was good, but we expected more out of a highly reputed wine from that vintage. This Barossa Valley producer makes about 7000 cases per year from 75 acres of vines that surround the winery. We sure couldn't figure out why the label had such a lofty reputation … until we tasted the 1995. From vines that average 73 years old, the color was deep and opaque and the intense, super ripe fruit smells, cocoa, and spice notes let you know right off that this is a serious beverage. In the mouth, descriptors failed. Deep, rich, extracted, creamy, smooth, lavish, absolutely loaded with personality, its incredibly sensual, quite large scaled, and remarkably giving for a 1995. Simply put, it has it all, and if a wine like this doesn't make you a believer, we cannot envision what will. The velvety fruit seems to almost float across the palate, yet it's packed with deep luscious fruit. It's a knockout, it's a sensation, it's a rippah, you name it.
California Wine Net. T"he wine comes from Australia's Barossa Valley, the Charles Cimicky winery. When WS comes on-line, you can check out the Rhône Syrah Shiraz board on their terrific 1995 Shiraz; at $16.95, it blew the socks off many $30-$40 bottles. I had it and thought it was absolutely first-rate. Unfortunately it was also sold out by the time I became aware of it."
Email from Milan on December 16, 1997: "Bob, I picked up a few bottles of the Cimicky Shiraz about 10 days ago. At that time, apparently no one had tasted it. Now that a few posts are appearing, I thought I'd pop one to go with a nice filet mignon, baked potato, mixed green salad and all the fixings. A good dark color. Lots of fruit in the aroma, particularly currants, quite spicy and peppery as well. The flavor follows, with black currants and dark plums. The fruit has a hint of "hot climate" cab about it; slightly over-ripe. This is confirmed by the stated 13.5% alcohol; I'd guess it is a little higher than that. Plenty of tannin, rather on the hard side. Spices include black pepper, a hint of anise, some cinnamon, reminiscent of Syrah. A nice mid-body, good mouth-feel, but hard, drying tannins linger. It has enough acid to indicate some aging potential. So how good is it? Well, it's not '94 Insignia or Mondavi Reserve. On the other hand, it's a well-made, honest wine with distinctive character, good structure, plenty of fruit and reasonable aging potential. How much more can you expect for $15.99? I'm going to lay down a few bottles down for three to five years and see what happens. Tannin freaks will undoubtedly enjoy now. All in all, excellent QPR and an interesting Aussie import. Hope all is well." [I'm not sure that Milan didn't confuse the Shiraz with a Cab/Shiraz blend Cimicky released at the same time, but I like thinking about this Wisconsin guy who went West -- the label Milan designed for his wines was wonderful."
Jerry Mead: "Charles Cimicky 1995 "Barossa Valley" Shiraz ($22) Shiraz is the synonym for Syrah that the Aussie's most frequently use. This wine is for those who like 'em big...really big...for those folks who go for the intense "old vines," tending toward late harvest, Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs out of California. Smoky, earthy, really ripe plum flavors. Big body...big fruit...big everything! This is a great red wine with a 20 years (at least) cellar potential. Track this one down if you can. Rating: 98/85. (Wines are scored using a unique 100 point system. First number rates quality; second number rates value.)"
Label: "A very special wine from the limited 1995 vintage. The combination of an exceptionally dry winter and severe spring frost. Quantity suffered but quality was enhanced; the 1995 vintage has presented us with an intesne full-bodied but richly elegant Shiraz with subtle toasty oak imparted through 17 months maturation in both new and seasoned American and French hogsheads. Additional complexity within the uniquely Australian-style wine will evolve over the next decade, during which a harmless crust may develop. All Cimicky wines are proudly vintaged and bottled on the estate. Imported by Ausvin USA, Vista, California. 13.5% alcohol. Deep red color; excellent fruit aroma; excellent fruit taste with well blended tannins and a bit of acid (it might be better in a year or so); good mouth feel; 15 to 20 second finish. 4*.
The wine was kept at 52 F, 70 to 75% humidity from the day I brought it home. There was only one short period of power outage -- four days during Hurricane Floyd's visit.
12/13/97 1995 Charles Cimicky Signature Shiraz Australia. Good fruit aroma and taste; good balance; good depth and interesting overtones; 15 to 20 second finish; threw a slight deposit. 4*
Similar notes over the next several years with increasing sweetness and better integrated tannins, long lingering finish:
June, 1998 -- "Firm attack ...". 4*. 4*.
November 1999 -- "Sweeter in the glass after an hour." Second day "Quite lovely, Rhone like." 4*. 4*.
December 2000 -- Ditto. Both nights. 4*. 4*.
August 2001 -- "Closed." 2*+ Second night: "ok but barely after an hour in the glass." 3*.
January 2002 -- Janet and I visited the winery and enjoyed a wonderful tasting -- but this wine was not available for tasting nor on offer.
??? -- I gave one bottle to a friend four or five years ago; she and her husband loved it..
December 2002 -- Small tasting with seven people. T4*. General approval -- all Syrah and Shiraz wines with a bit of age on them.
January 2004 -- Ditto. 4*. 4*.
August 2005 -- Ditto. 4*. Second night absolutely splendid -- left it out on the counter over night. Just like an Aussie. :-) [At least, I saw plenty of bottles sitting on kitchen counters in the Barossa when I visited in 2002. 5*.
April 2006 Very heavy deposit. Janet hated the harsh attack, but thought it smelled better and better in the glass -- finally sipped a bit. The wine gained sweetness over night stored in a cold refrigerator. 4*. 4*.
Now -- One bottle left -- $180 very well spent indeed!