Australian Shiraz

Top wines $15 and under


The Australian wine industry has certainly had its fair share of troubles over the past few years. Some have been unavoidable, like drought, while others, like the push for ever bigger, sweeter and (hopefully) pointier wines, have proved to be man-made disasters.

Thankfully, Australia’s wine industry is back on track. Not only have they regained their way with Shiraz, but as my recent tastings have revealed, they have also found new direction for so-called cool climate varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir!

Today, it is time to take a look at where Australian Shiraz is headed. The results are promising to say the least.

While there are still both under and over achievers, Australian Shiraz today strikes me as being an overall fresher and more focused wine than it was just a few years ago. The ever-increasing fruit and weight-driven mouth feel has been replaced by aromatic complexity and textural refinement.

So if you haven’t checked out Australian Shiraz lately, take a peek. The wines are moving from strength to strength and offer a diversity that was unheard of just a few short years ago.

Check out my picks for top Australian Shiraz $15 and under below.
Recommended Australian Shiraz $16 to $20 can be found here.
Recommended Australian Shiraz over $20 can be found here.

Photo courtesy AJC1 via Flickr/CC

2009 McWilliams Hanwood Estate South Eastern Australia Shiraz 13.5% $10

This has a slightly exotic nose, more wild red berry fruited than most Shiraz, with a gamy edge and fresh herbal spice notes adding detail. This is really lovely to smell, showing flashes of olive and meat along with the fruit, which gains a darker profile with air. This is rather lighter bodied on the palate than many Shiraz with a feel and balance that’s more akin to a Bordeaux blend. It is tight and structured, if not overly tannic. Fresh red berries and a touch of blue fruit are wrapped in soft wood spice with flourishes of herbs, adding zip. The oak becomes apparent on the finish, with some sweet cocoa and cedar notes adding detail to a moderately long raspberry finale. This won’t knock you out with power, but it may very well seduce you. 89 pts

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2008 Xanadu Next of Kin Margaret River Shiraz 14% $12

Pretty floral on the nose with green peppercorn spice, jammy red currant fruit, some well-integrated cigar box notes and a little tropical fruit/orange rind. This is very cool, crisp and focused in the mouth. The flavors of currant, boysenberry and plum are fresh and brisk, with very subtle spice, soil and cocoa notes helping to frame the fruit. This is broad in the mouth with small but slightly dry tannins and sufficient acidity, making it an ideal wine for a steak. In fact, it makes me want a steak! The finish is tight and still fresh, but shows a touch more austerity and modest length with licorice and plum skin notes. This is lovely. 89 pts

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2007 Wakefield Clare Valley Shiraz 14.5% $15

A bit unusual on the nose with notes of figs, mint stems, tar, pepper and leathery dried cherry fruit. This is wide open on the palate with a rich savory layer of flavors laying above a base of rather bright red fruit, red currants and wild raspberries. The flavors of herbs, leather, dried baking spices and white pepper add nice dimension here, though they tend to dominate the meaty, spicy finish. Texturally, this is spot on- bright, clear and supple, though the flavors are tending a touch too much towards the savory for me tonight. 88 pts

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2009 d’Arenberg the Stump Jump McLaren Vale Shiraz 14.5% $11

Very pretty on the nose, peppery and ripe with smoke, dried meat and vanilla accents. This is rich but very well balanced in the mouth, showing fine blackberry, tinged with hints of game, black currant and fried bacon. The tannins are very soft lending this an easy drinking quality and the rich fruit pops on the back end before fading gently on the dry, austerely refreshing finish. This wants a steak. Very nicely done. 87 pts

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2008 The Lackey South Australia Shiraz 14,5% $15

Black fruit, peppercorn, cedar and some black olive notes greet the nose here. There is a fresh, perfumed quality to the aromatics, supported by black cherry fruit. On the palate, this is easy but not simple- wide open with a lush quality to the fruit, all underpinned by balanced if small-scaled tannins. Nice purity on the palate which shows plummy red fruit, spice and toasty oak notes. Reveals a nice streak of bacon on the back end, which carries through the finish. The fruit shows decent persistence on the moderately long finish, which ends on a note of toasty oak spice. Very well made with broad appeal. 87 pts

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2008 Jacob’s Creek Barossa Shiraz Reserve 13.8% $12

Smoky and subtle, with undercurrents of violet and vanilla supporting slightly minty black cherry and berry fruit. This is bright in the mouth and rather well balanced. A fresh, somewhat fruity character is layered over a bed of persistent cocoa, which is obvious but nicely restrained. Very much in a crowd-pleasing style, but exhibiting a restrained side as well. The fruit shows more wild cherry berry character on the finish, along with some toasty spice notes and a nice vanilla and coconut oak accent. 87 pts

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Want to Learn More?

Check out the other varietals you can find down under in 5 Australian Wines to Try!

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