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Friday, May 16, 2008

Henry's Drive Pillar Box Red 2006

A Pillar BoxI've put off reviewing the Pillar Box Red 2006 from Henry's Drive for quite a while because of something my mother taught me: If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

The Pillar Box Red 2005 was any easy-to-drink red blend – all one needed to do was to crack open the screwcap, pour it in a glass, and drink it. When the 2006 vintage arrived last winter, I expected it to be much the same, but it wasn't. Instead, as it came out of the bottle it was bitter and harsh, and packed a lot of alcoholic heat.

Due in part to the perseverance of our wine rep, we wine guys and gals discovered that its personality changed dramatically after it was exposed to air for a while, so we sold the ’06 with a caveat: Decant it for at least half an hour, or leave the bottle open for three days before drinking. Because of those requirements, it definitely wasn't a party wine.

Lately I'd been curious about what effect six months of bottle age had wrought on the Pillar Box Red, so I gave it another try last night. Cracked open the bottle, poured a bit, gave the glass a swirl, and ... "hey, this is good!"

Age has definitely mellowed this vintage of Pillar Box Red. It does open with a streak of tannin, but that is quickly overpowered by jammy blackberry, blueberry and cassis flavors. It's full-bodied, and the alcoholic heat it once had is nowhere in evidence, despite its 15 percent alcohol content. After a brief (20 minute) decant the wine opens even more and the streak of tannin vanishes, a cedar nose emerges and the fruit flavors deepen. It could benefit from even more bottle age, but this Australian blend of Padthaway Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is perfectly drinkable right now, and is an excellent candidate to pair with burgers or serve by itself -- and since it's only about ten bucks a bottle, as a party wine!

Aussies love to give their wines strange names, but they don't come out of thin air. (D'Arenberg's Footbolt Shiraz is named after a horse; Tait's Ball Buster Shiraz is named in honor of the winemaker's wife, who we are to gather is not a shy, delicate creature.) Pillar Box wines are named for the ubiquitous mailboxes that populate Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, Australia. Pillar Box's wine labels further extend the tribute — and as a variation of the theme, Henry's Drive also makes a Barossa Shiraz called Dead Letter Office.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:06 AM


I discovered Dead Letter Office at a restaurant in - of all places - Chattanooga, TN - and loved it! I have found it at Sam's in Chicago. GET IT!

Anonymous Richard Shaffer, at 10:02 AM  

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