Taking Australia to Court: A Review of The Innocent, The Guilty and The Verdict

shinasGeorge Shinas is a guy you notice. He’s large enough to define his space in a room, and he has the manner of someone who’s accustomed to being listened to. And well he should be — he’s a Criminal Court Judge in Australia’s Victoria Province.

George also makes wines that are every bit as big and commanding as he is. He has a passion for wines and winemaking that comes through in his words and his bottles.

George grew up with wine: the son of Greek parents who emigrated to Australia in 1952, he was quite literally raised in their restaurant. Wine was a part of their heritage and lifestyle, and eight generations before him had made their own wine. George’s was so popular in his home town of Mildura that other restaurant owners begged him to sell it to them, and George finally sold his first commercial wine in 2002. Shinas Estates was born!

Shinas produces just three wines, all made from estate fruit. George handcrafts his wines, starting in the vineyard: irrigation is kept to a minimum to stress the vines, yields are kept low to concentrate flavors, and the fruit is given extra hang-time to maximize ripeness. George’s winemaking process also stretches the envelope, with extra soak time and barrel time, and no fining or filtering to strip away flavors. The resulting wines are so good, they should be illegal (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun).

The Innocent Viognier 2008 :  Viognier is a grape that can be butchered in the wrong hands. These are not those hands. George’s Viognier has an alluring, exotic nose of honeysuckle and orange blossom, with a mouth-feel and style that’s anything but sweet and cloying. The flavors suggest tangerine, apricot and creamy custard, with a racy spice note. The best part, though, is the crisp, clean, almost steely edge that balances the rich fruit. Watch yourself, though — this baby hides a whopping –% alcohol content.


The Innocent Viognier 2008 $21.99

The Guilty Shiraz 2007 :  Anyone who thinks Shiraz is a tooty-fruity little wine should try this blockbuster. It radiates power right from the nose, with aromas of dark berries, bitter cocoa, and smoky oak. The flavors are concentrated and intense, with a hint of black raspberry (which usually dominates Aussie Shiraz for me) pumped up by tobacco, mocha and more smoke. This is a Shiraz with balls. The finish shows well-structured tannins and enough grip to keep you chewing this wine for a few seconds. Not that that’s a bad thing!!


The Guilty Shiraz 2007 $24.99

The Verdict Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 : It’s not often that Shiraz out-muscles Cabernet, but that’s the case with George Shinas’ wines. It’s not that the Cab is light: it’s every bit as extracted and intense as the Shiraz. But the character of the fruit is richer and softer. Instead of smoke and tobacco, I got pure blackberry jam –I could have spread it on toast! The mouth-feel was so rich that it lingered loooong after I swallowed (did I say I didn’t spit? Who would spit out these wines!) A final hint of sweet vanilla oak rounded out the package.


The Verdict Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $24.99

I think everyone should try George’s wines. They’re big and brave, like Australia itself, but with a sense of balance and truth — just like a good judge. Cheers!

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