Since Kris and I had both had a long week, we wanted to veg out in front of the TV and not feel guilty about only half-heartedly paying attention to what was in our glass. For better or for worse, the 2005 Milton Park Shiraz fulfilled this role admirably.
I guess I was expecting more - I remember being very impressed with the quality of this wine given its price ($9 at Total Wine) back several years ago when I first came across this wine in California. In fact, a quick Google brings up several reviews, each and every one mentioning its quality far exceeding its price. Here's what the Wine Advocate had to say about it: "A superb value, the 2005 Shiraz Milton Park is unbelievable for this price point. It reveals copious amounts of blackberries, black cherries, tar, licorice, and a hint of oak. Beautifully textured, rich, full-bodied, and lush, it should be consumed over the next 3-4 years." - Wine Advocate (#167, Oct 2006), 90 pts
Perhaps its just because my tastes have shifted a bit since leaving California for the East Coast - I find myself appreciating the earthier, more balanced European (and South American) wines recently over some of the Californian and Australian fruit bombs (I certainly don't mean to imply that *all* or even *most* California wines are like this - but there are plenty out there). I think part of this preference shift is due to simple availability - good California wines are difficult to get over here on the more Euro-centric East Coast. It seems that some wine retailers in the area almost enjoy excluding California wines - some weird way of thumbing their nose at the "Left Coast". And Maryland doesn't allow direct wine shipping to consumers (or even retailers in Montgomery County), so no more California wine clubs. Thus I think you just start exploring what's available, and start developing a taste for it. It's like the Crosby, Stills & Nash song: "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."
Anyway, the Milton Park Shiraz is definitely very drinkable, and although frighteningly dark purple could be a good choice to break out for friends who are just getting in to wine as its simple fruit and tannins remain soft and approachable. I feel that its a solid wine - I was just hoping for more. But I'm still struggling to recognize the difference between a poor wine and a well-made wine which I simply dislike. I'd be interested in hearing other opinions on this - I think that's a difficult milestone to reach in wine tasting, and I will take all the pointers I can get!