The move away from big and brash shiraz has been praised, but RALPH KYTE-POWELL fears it’s gone too far.
THERE’S NEVER BEEN any question about the consistency and quality of Australian shiraz. It’s been one of New Zealand’s favourite wines for decades, and for value it’s had few peers. But in this Cuisine shiraz tasting, did we detect a change? For some years we’ve praised a slight lightening of the Oz style. Wines have become a little more refined, less oaky, less about super-ripe fruit and more about finesse, without compromising depth of flavour.
These developments have been welcomed by our tasters in the past, but in this tasting, the panel discussed whether things had gone too far in some wines. This was especially apparent at the value-formoney end of things. “What’s happened to big Aussie shiraz?” asked panellist John Hancock. John Belsham agreed. “New Zealand’s favourite red wine is pinot noir, and many of these wines don’t make a compelling argument for choosing Oz shiraz over a New Zealand pinot noir.” The judging panel’s misgivings about a number of wines in this shiraz collection didn’t extend to all those tasted, but the trend was commented on by all judges.
A majority of wines still waved the flag in the time-honoured fashion, and our top wines were very worthy examples of the flavoursome, satisfying Australian style. The usual value equation redeemed the situation too. There is still a lot of wine for your money in many of these shirazes, and our Best Buys from this tasting deserve the attention of all budget-conscious Kiwi red wine lovers.
SHINGLEBACKS ARE nuggetty, stumpy lizards that enjoy the sunshine at this highly regarded McLaren Vale estate. The Davey Estate opens with vibrant red and black berry aromas, sweet spice and dusty oak, all in impressive equilibrium. The palate is profound, with smooth, succulent fruit, perfect balance and a firm spice of tannins. It calls for an extravagant dish like a roast fillet of beef.
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