Sunday, January 16, 2011

2007 Mollydooker Two Left Feet Shiraz Cabernet Merlot

Edit: After reading a set of reviews posted by Andrew Graham on his Australian Wine Review blog (see the reviews and comments HERE), I did a quick browse of my own scores for certain wines. Looking at this review, it is painfully obvious that I over-rated it. At RedtoBrown, we have tended to post reviews of wines we rate above 85. For me personally, I do not want to spend my (increasingly limited) spare blogging time savaging a wine when I can praise, or critically asses a much more interesting, challenging wine (or try and produce some wine satire that invariably misses the mark, while drinking an interesting wine :-) ).

Nevertheless, I have written up notes on a few wines that I did not enjoy, partially to discuss the style of wine in question or query the judgement of the winery/corporation in releasing certain wines (see the Rosemount Botannicals post  (LINK) for arguably my most strident, negative review).

I did not enjoy this wine. It did not grow on me. It is made in a style I am not a fan of (a style foreign wine drinkers and critics think of when discussing Australian red wines). Looking back on the tasting notes, and my thoughts on the 2 bottles I tried 6 months apart, a rating of 86 points/3 stars is wildly inaccurate, and has to be addressed. The new, more accurate (in my view) score is below. Apologies for the flip flop; I do not have the time or desire to re-taste some wines I have my doubts on (and largely, I am happy with the calls made on most of the wine notes posted), but this one had to be addressed.

PS - thanks to Andrew Graham for leading the way in posting notes that are an honest view of what ones palate is telling them and not a complex calculation of fashion, wine trends, expectation and cliches.

I will have to come out first by stating that as an Australian, I had never heard of the slang term ‘mollydooker’ being used to describe left handed people until the winery of the same name stormed onto the scene in a rush of Parker points around 2005. If forced to offer up an Australian slang term for a left hander, ‘cackhanded’ would be my pick. Though not a national or personal emergency if it happened, the winery may be partly responsible for convincing Americans that we walk around our outback towns calling left handed people mollydookers.

In much the same way, Parkerised wines like the Mollydooker Two Left Feet have for some time been convincing Americans that Australia makes two styles of wine – the very cheap critter variety (Yellowtail, Koala Blue, random labels most Aussies will have never heard of) and the 90+ pointed Robert Parker blockbuster fruit bombs. Unlike the use or misuse of Australian slang, this perception, whether true or imagined, is definitely not the reality, and is not healthy for the Australian wine industry.

To set the scene, the wine being reviewed, the Two Left Feet is black-purple in colour. Following a ‘Mollydooker shake’ as instructed, its sweet nose of liqueur black fruit and tobacco enmeshes with spirity, pure alcohol fumes. There are porty black fruit flavours on the front palate, leading to bitter dark chocolate (both from heavy oak and fruit) on the middle and back palate, finishing in a crescendo of more bitter dark chocolate, porty black and some blue fruit, salty hard liquorice and a hit of powerful alcohol heat. The wine is not structurally out of control, though the alcohol is out of balance with everything else.

On day two, with ample time in the decanter, the flavour profile had not budged – if anything, the alcohol was more prominent. 2007 was a difficult vintage in the McLaren Vale, which would explain the harsh, bitter tannins evident (quite common in many of the MV Shiraz and Cabernet I have tried from that vintage), and might also explain the very high alcohol level that dominates the wine. However, this wine has obviously been made in a certain style regardless of vintage conditions, and it shows in the glass.

On reflection, the 07 Mollydooker Two Left Feet fits the pantomime villain description you see in wine forums criticising the style of Australian wines highly rated by Robert Parker and Wine Advocate. Unlike some of the Australian wines Parker rates highly, this wine conforms to many of the stereotypes: high alcohol clearly evident (16%abv, but more like 18%), porty, liqueur black fruit, difficult if not impossible to match with any food and too much to drink by itself (or to have more than one glass in one sitting). Yet this style of wine still sells in America, albeit in reduced quantities and for reduced prices.

However, there is hope. The way Australian Chardonnay has evolved since the ‘Sunshine in a glass / Dolly Parton’ era shows that the style of wine being made by wineries previously blessed with ‘Parker points’ could evolve in time, turning down the alcohol levels by several degrees, selecting fruit that is less over-ripe, and reining in the use of new (mostly American) oak.

Furthermore, the introduction of Lisa Perrotti Brown as the Asian/Australian rep for Wine Advocate (and noting her relatively high scores given to some Hunter Valley Reds early last year) suggests that such a move may actually be rewarded and not punished by Wine Advocate in the future.

Whether the aforementioned hope is realised, and whether wines made in the style of the Two Left Feet evolve accordingly remains to be seen. However, in light of the milieu the Australian wine industry finds itself in, it would be of assistance if this was the case.

77 points (formerly 3 stars, 86 points)

Closure: Screwcap


stu said...

Spot on. I tried a number of Mollydooker (I always think of them as Chinamen being a bit of a cricket fan) wines at an event in Brisbane last year. Not my thing (strangely I thought they used to be until I saw the light!).

Too many porty notes and not in a pleasant way. I like port when it is port. Not when it is purporting (see what I did there?) to be a Shiraz.

Brown said...

I hated facing chinamen bowlers when playing cricket - never seemed to hit a 6 off them :-)
It might be the 2007/2008 horror McLaren Vale vintages that did it, but this wine wasn't porty as much as just alcoholic - like a vodka wine. Fruit sweetness (vs alcohol sweetness) would have been a bonus. I have found the Torbreck style of RPJ fruit bomb to definitely be like port, though with dead fruit and minimal acid! :-) The harsh and bitter tannins also added to the 'experience'with this wine. I might have to try the Carnival of Love or some of their other Premium wines from a good vintage before I write them off though: Cannot say I have enjoyed many SA reds from 2007/8 (even from my more trusted wineries).

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