Four Emus Shiraz 2004
As a crossword puzzle addict, I pen in the word “emu” nearly every day, though I have never
come face to face with one of these flightless Australian birds. I'm not sure I want to.
According to the winemakers, “Emus run fast and play hard. They are the rock stars of the
outback, famous (after all, one stands alongside a kangaroo on the country's coat of arms)
with a touch of insanity. This new line of wines combines the attitude of the outback with the
bold, unique flavors of Western Australian vineyards.”
Labeling and marketing language aside, and though I failed to detect feathers in this Shiraz, I do get the feeling the winemakers managed to capture the spirit of the place. The Four Emus line includes four wines: a Chardonnay, this Shiraz, a Cabernet-Shiraz-Merlot and a Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend, each, I believe, associated with an individual emu. The pack's deranged leader, Eddie, headlines the $10 Shiraz.
Positioned outright as an “easy drinking wine,” the Shiraz meets this qualification with a focus rarely found among its short-attention-span namesakes. It is easy to drink, and yet it has a goodly number of layers. From first encounter through to a good finish, I found it nicely balanced in terms of extracted fruit, acidity and soft tannins.
According to the tasting system I use, “red” wines run from purple to ruby to garnet to tawny, but this Shiraz can only be classified as red: a deep, tomato juice red, with purple at the edges. The fruit is also primarily red. My notes say cherry, redcurrant and plum, though my memory is adding a prickly bit of raspberry. These fruits are fresh and very ripe. The ripeness and voluptuous mouth-feel led me on tasting to think of a drop of sweet, but the wine in fact weighs in as dry with a maximum of 3 grams per liter residual sugar. The fruit is by far the star in this wine, but behind it is a little smoke, a tinge of cocoa, a sprinkle of the warm side of black pepper.
The packaging of this screw-top wine is stimulating, with a special perforated take-home tag
for those enjoying the wine at a restaurant, but the true key to the wine is an excellent
combination of concept and state-of-the-art technique. Questions of “berserk” aside, the Four
Emus succeed handily as winemakers. Oh wait—I spoke too soon—there's a feather! I'm coming
to know Eddie's handiwork.
Verdict: A fine value
When a wine is well-made and fun, you can analyze it all you want, but it keeps reminding you it is well-made and fun.
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman