High Octane Wine

First off, holy high alcohol batman. I chose the 2006 Mauritson Rockpile Madrone Spring Vineyard Syrah for our wine the other night. It clocked in at 15.9% alcohol by volume!!!! That alone made it a one glass kind of wine. Now, as you know, I’m not one of those “high alcohol wines are all evil and unbalanced” type of people. However, I do like to have a glass of wine with dinner and one after. When the alcohol content is THAT high, I just can’t. The wine cost us $38 minus a 20% discount in a club shipment and had a real cork closure.


In the glass, the wine showed as a deep dark purple, almost inky color. On the nose I found aromas of cinnamon, red hots, vanilla, pie, plum, black cherry, baking spice, espresso, and violets. The wine had an incredibly complex and intriguing nose and I didn’t get any of the heat I expected from the alcohol level. In the mouth, the flavors came through as plum, black cherries, pepper, licorice, and a little leather.

Overall, in the mouth, the wine seemed a bit hot. It also had some tannins to spare, so perhaps with a bit of age this one would settle down. I really loved the nose, and thought the mouth had potential, maybe some decanting to let the heat integrate a little better.

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3 Responses

  1. I don’t think most people have a problem with evil high alcohol wines, I believe it is with evil imbalanced wines. This could be any combination of too high of acidity, tannin, length, alcohol, or flavor profile. I have tasted wines, mostly Pinot Noir, that have very high alcohol, but are still balanced, and others which are “heat” imbalanced. Also, watch the aging on those wines- flavor profiles, acids, and tannins subdue along with time and could just make the wine hotter. Glad you liked the Rockpile!

  2. There are some interesting (? – I guess!) tax issues around high alcohol wines. I remembered reading somewhere once that in Europe it was at 15% that different taxation kicked in but the closest link I could find at short notice was this one which suggests taxation changes at 14%.

    It was a winemaker in Chateauneuf-du-Pape (quite alcoholic wines, thanks to Grenache) who said that its ridiculous for people to fret about that extra bit of alcohol … unless you’re drinking bottles of the stuff you’re unlikely to notice much of a difference (especially if you’re drinking with food and over a long period of time – like the French do).

  3. Thanks for the comment Michael.

    Alex-I’ve heard of tax laws here too that affect the rate the winery has to pay. I don’t fret, unless the wine tastes hot!

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