Mollydooker’s lineup of big, bold reds may be the quintessential Parker-style wines. Since their first release in 2006 uber-wine critic Robert Parker has given these wines high scores and high praise. Truth-be-told, Parker’s palate is a bit more diverse than his critics give him credit for—he often recognizes elegance and subtlety in a wine. But he nevertheless has a soft spot for big, alcoholic, fruit bombs. And he is not alone. With respect to Mollydooker, the Wine Spectator agrees, consistently rating their wines above 90.
This critical consensus has been under attack in recent years. Many wine critics prefer lower alcohol and less ripe fruit and are vocal about their preferences, leading Parker to accuse them of being “euro-elitists” and “absolutists.
So this is one of the great ideological debates of our time (well, at least in the wine world), and where you come down on this issue marks off the territory one occupies as a wine critic.
Where do I fit in this great debate? I’m a bit of a let-a-thousand-flowers-bloom guy, so I think there is room in the firmament for alcoholic fruit bombs. But I just didn’t enjoy this blend of Shiraz (72%), Cabernet (14%) and Merlot (14%).
No doubt it has complex aromas—blackberry compote with raisin undertones, loam with a hint of chocolate, caramel, and thyme. It has great intensity. The aromas leap from the glass and there is no hint of stewed fruit– very ripe but fresh. But all of that loveliness can be detected only if you somehow ignore the alcoholic burn in your nose. On the palate, the same intensity of flavor is impressive, and at first the wine feels round and silky, but just as you settle in for a long satisfying finish you’re brought up short by hot, bitter alcohol punched up by relatively high acidity that seems poorly integrated. This wine attacks when it should be slowly retreating. Tannins are peppery but not drying.
In a certain context—at a crowded bar where you are trying to keep track of 4 conversations and that hot babe across the room—this wine will make you pay attention to it. It is just as hot as she is and trying just as hard to attract attention. But for quiet sipping it just doesn’t work and I can’t imagine pairing it with anything but barbecue.
There are plenty of great wines with high alcohol—Amarone for instance. But the great ones succeed in disguising the alcohol so it doesn’t distract. This one is honest but not in a good way.
Price: $24 average