Is Australia Back?

Time to take another look at the wines of Australia

Shiraz and Shiraz Based Blends
Leathery and a bit of animal greets the nose though in a very clean and pure way developing complex and deep aromas of plum and crushed berries over a base of wood spice. One gets the sensation of a bit of over-ripeness in the mouth, though this shows nicely judged tannins supporting blue fruit that explodes on the mid-palate with, gorgeous inner mouth perfumes, filled with hints of flowers and black pepper. Wonderfully knit together, this is layered and fruity with well judged oak that marries the fruit perfectly right through the long, sapid finish. This is at peak and lovely though there’s no rush to drink this. 94pts
This has all the classic Shiraz aromas and then some with lifted pepper, herb stem, florals, berry and plum fruit,  hints of oak spice and caramel topped with a gentle minty note and violet gum with a hint of a medicinal edge. Clear, polished and edgy in the mouth with soft tannins and noticeable acids, affording clarity to the salted plum and bitter red berry fruit that is streaked with a gentle minerality.  Rather elegant,with some chocolatey nuances on the backend before the fruit takes over again on the moderately long finish,  which oddly shows a touch of heat. Still this is wonderful with great freshness and precision in the mouth. 93pts
Jammy, ripe and powerful on the nose with cocoa covered cherry fruit, hits of gummi bears, black pepper and deep, ripe fruit. On entry this is lovely lovely, zesty full and fun with excellent purity to the plummy and raspberry tinged fruit which shows a nice mineral vein adding freshness and detail. There’s lovely balance here with tannins that are firmly embedded in the core of fruit and acidity that is noticeable but not intrusive supporting the fruit right through the clean and focused finish. There’s a drape of smoky oak that runs right through this wine but it’s nicely balanced if obvious and works well with the sweet fruit here.  It’s a powerhouse but well done in the style. 92pts
Ripe and peppery on the nose with rich aromas of road tar and caramel accenting the core of  spicy wild blackberry fruit and all topped with noticeable smoky oak. This is balanced if rich with a chewy core though it is finely balanced with  suave tannins and integrated acids supporting  lots of plummy and slightly pruny fruit, A bit lean and tight on the midpalate, this turns slightly herbal and spicy on the finish, which adds some nice detail. A big, young wine but one that is obviously well crafted and fairly elegant. 92pts
The nose here shows attractive complexity and even subtlety with it’s blend of cinnamon, tar, cracked pepper, floral, dried fruit and vanilla and coconut aromas. Smooth, polished, rich and slightly chewy this delivers a lot of impact in the mouth with just a hint of excess weight. The flavors are deep with dried and fresh black plum and blackberry notes all supported by well judged oak and fine spice character. The tannins are ripe and fine here and the acid supportive and well integrated. The long finish reprises the tar note found on the nose but wraps it up in great rich berry fruit and spice notes.  This is delicious and well balanced but it sure ain’t shy.  91pts
So smoky on the nose with a moderate dose of toasty oak spice layered under some leafy and bright black currant fruit.On entry this is really attractive with brilliant red and black fruits that have a slight jammy edge to them yet they remain clear and bright on the palate. This is so finely polished but still with cut and great clarity in the mouth. The knock here might be that this is a little simple but it’s so fresh and filled with everso slightly chewy fresh fruit that it really is a joy to drink. 91pts
A little pencil lead leads off the rather fudgy and  ripe on the nose which picks up notes of violet pastille, mineral and wood spice with air. On entry this is very smooth and polished. Round opulent and mouth filling, this is as lush a wine as I can take but at the same time it’s  deep and relatively fresh with raspberry tinged fruit on the palate. It’s a spicy fruit with oak well integrated but still fruity especially on the finish which is saved by the appearance of  a little dry, powdery tannin on the finish, which cuts things short but helps to add some texture to the wine. 91pts

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Top Australian Shiraz tasted 10/13

Yalumba Shiraz Barossa Valley the Octavius (2006)
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Giaconda Shiraz Estate Vineyard (2010)
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Greenock Creek Alices Shiraz Australia (2011)
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Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz (2009)
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Yangarra Shiraz Estate Mclaren (2010)
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Yalumba Signature 05 Australia Barossa Valley Cabernet & Blends (2008)
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Langmeil Shiraz Orphan Bank (2010)
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Jim Barry the Lodge Hill Shiraz Clare Valley (2011)
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Henschke Keyneton Euphonium Eden Valley (2010)
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Langmeil 'Valley Floor' Shiraz (2010)
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Wirra Wirra Shiraz Catapult (2010)
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Shingleback Shiraz the Davey Estate (2011)
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Wirra Wirra Church Block Mclaren Vale (2010)
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Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: cucreek
    1324710 22

    Descriptors like "ripe, jammy, lush, rich" (to name but a few), this only convinces me that the basic problems with the Australian craze have not been addressed. These reviews suggest they are still overripe, overly alcoholic, not age worthy and not worth the $$ many still ask. In addition to the loss of distinction between expensive and inexpensive (why pay $100 for an overly-extracted wine when you can get one for $20), it was the RP effect--huge scores for wines which, after a short time in cellars (including mine), were finished. Too ripe, too hot and not balanced to drink, let alone age.

    Oct 15, 2013 at 6:20 PM

  • Snooth User: gerrad
    79282 57

    can i point out that all but one wine in your list (i think) is from barossa/eden valley! if you want more restrained less jammy wines-buy from cooler climate producers! try, margaret river (earthy and med body, maybe some mint), great southern (dark, brooding savoury fruit), tasmania (try glaetzer-dixon) and victoria (espec. grampians, alpine valley, beechworth regions). in the same way as many of the best wines of france or usa never make it here- same goes here. look into; plantagenet, leeuwin estate, castle rock est., frankland estate, forest hill, faber, xanadu etc. and theyre just some of the gems from the west coast. ok, ul have trouble getting many of them, but have u looked? good drinking.

    Oct 16, 2013 at 6:27 AM

  • Snooth User: gerrad
    79282 57

    cu creek, could you name any of the producers and vintages to which you refer..and how many of them DONT come from barossa valley? i agree with your general sentiment in respect to wines from that region..otherwise no! (see my comment above)

    Oct 16, 2013 at 6:28 AM

  • Snooth User: Pagarsi
    1264679 15

    At first glance there are as many wines from Mcclarenvale as anywhere. Shingleback are also Mcclarenvale, Their best shiraz is The Gate and D block. I agree with you about Grampions, very under-rated particularly Langi Ghirran.

    Oct 16, 2013 at 10:52 AM

  • Snooth User: cucreek
    1324710 22

    First, I have enjoyed this exchange. Unlike many website comment sections, this is civil, pleasant and informative. Just people interested in the subjects at hand. I will stipulate areas other than Barossa (and sometimes McClaren Vale) can make very different wines. I was responding to the wines in this report, since that is what was presented. And this article highlights the problem: by the choice of wines, it reinforces the perceptions, and the wines most often encountered. Cheers to all.

    Oct 16, 2013 at 1:43 PM

  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,562

    "Unlike many website comment sections, this is civil, pleasant and informative."

    I think you will find that attitude pervades throughout the Snooth site.

    I have sat outside this conversation and have learned a lot. I would like to thank the contributors.

    Oct 16, 2013 at 2:09 PM

  • Snooth User: Pagarsi
    1264679 15

    There are many, many mid-tier restaurants in Australia which still allow (encourage ?)people to bring their own wine. I took a bottle of shiraz with me to an Afghannee reataurant last night. (Charging a corkage fee of $10 to $30 per bottle,)In contrast to most of the Western world. The upshot of this is 95% of all wine bought in Australia is drunk the day it is bought, the vast majority within two hours of being bought. (I have three clients in the wine industry, I know more about the wine industry than I do about wine.) This seems a fairly insignificant point but in practice it is a great influence on the market. The emphasis is to produce wines drunk straight from the shelf and not for collectors to put down for a number of years.

    We have the richest 2 year old horse race in the world, it could be argued that culturally we don't have a lot of patience and we want to get on with things straight away.

    Oct 16, 2013 at 9:15 PM

  • I think some of you guys had better spend some dosh and get acquainted with phase 2 of wines and their diversity in Australia. You are only replicating old Bob P stereotypes . I travel the world and the mid tier and above wines of the country are sensational. And there are terroirs of great substance ( and e,enhance ) in each quality region including Barossa and Eden Valleys. In any case good wine is good wine beyond stigmatization.

    Oct 27, 2013 at 6:12 AM

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