(Note: Some of these wine reviews will be old ones from the previous blog, or transcriptions of notes that I've taken on wines in the past.)
The 2004 Penfolds Rawson's Retreat Shiraz Cabernet is probably the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the great Penfolds winery, but I have a soft spot for it. One nice feature about the Penfolds wine is that the majority of their labels all look identical. Why is that nice? Unless the person you're serving is very familiar with the winery, they won't know if your bottle is worth $10 or $50. Of course, the best varieites have slightly different designs--a recent vintage of the Penfolds Grange will run you two or three hundred dollars, and older bottles from the 1950s can run into the thousands.
This wine was bought for $6.
It's 74% Shiraz (same grape as Syrah) and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's also one of the first 2004 wines to be commercially available aside from novelties like the Beajolais Nouveau (thanks the opposite seasons Down Under). This wine is bold and brash with a heavy fruit flavor up front, but little or no sweetness. If you ever want to show someone what a wine tastes like before any real aging, give them a glass of this and then bop 'em on the head with the butt of the bottle. Think hardcore grape juice and you're in the neighborhood.
I know that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but I still enjoy it. It's always good to try a wine in its infancy, and while I don't think this particular vintage will improve with age, it lets you know where more refined wines start out. It's also a decent wine for sipping in the afternoon while you're hanging around the BBQ grill all day.