Dinner at the Petit Louis Bistro in Baltimore

Getting prepared for a three-week visit to Australia, I took three blockbuster Shiraz to my favorite local bistro, Petit Louis, as well as a bottle of 1998 Monbousquet. It takes a lot for the flamboyant, dramatically flavored, intensely perfumed 1998 Monbousquet to look like a restrained and shy wine, but these three over-the-top, blockbuster Shiraz did it. By the way, the gorgeous Monbousquet is a continuation of the tremendously successful succession of vintages that have been produced under proprietor Gérard Perse. The three Shiraz wines are not for every day drinking, but they are extraordinary expressions of old vine Shiraz. The intensity, remarkable concentration, yet surprising balance and freshness for such massive wines is astonishing. This is what Australia can do so well, particularly from Barossa and McLaren Vale. What I find odd is the number of Australian journalists who seem to be captives of the two giant firms, Hardy's and Penfold's, that control over 90% of Australian wine production. They criticize these wines for the same characteristics they praise in Penfold's Grange. If anyone can explain that to me, I'm all ears. Why is it that people who try and emulate other great wines often get criticized for such efforts? When those critics accuse the wines of being atypical, it is the epitome of disingenuousness.

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