Value, consistency and versatility make Aussie shiraz a sure bet, writes Ralph Kyte-Powell's.
“These would have to be the most consistent, best-value wines on earth,” declared Cuisine wine panel chair John Belsham at the end of our tasting of Australian shiraz.
A scan of the results confirms it, with star awards going to 57 of the 83 wines tasted, and most of those that didn’t quite achieve star status were still acceptable, if not very exciting. Wines with actual winemaking faults could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Not many international wine types can boast such a positive strike rate.
Aussie shiraz continues to evolve, and the gradual refinement of the type over the years means that there are fewer big, butch wines in the alcoholic, jammy, oaky style than before. In their place is a slightly gentler take on Australian shiraz. “They’re still full of flavour, ripe and satisfying,” said Ralph Kyte-Powell. “But there’s an increasing sophistication among them. They’re easier, less obvious, more friendly.”
Australian shiraz is versatile too. Most drink well in the first flush of youth, with ripe fruit centre stage, but the age-worthiness of most is beyond question, and the extra complexities that evolve as the years pass make it worth putting a few bottles away for a rainy day.
On the value front, two of our Top 5 wines have price tags that hover around the $17 mark, and another four that made the four-star rating sell for less than $20.
These stand out, but panellists were struck by the value to be had in the $20 to $30 range, where our top wine can be found. John Belsham summed it up succinctly, asking,“In bang for your buck terms, do these wines have any peers?”
A great example of modern Australian shiraz from the picturesque Clare Valley.
Unlike some blockbusters of yesteryear, this is a fragrant, medium-bodied shiraz of lovely varietal purity. Aromas are floral, herbal and spicy, with a generous core of ripe berryfruit on nose and palate. Texture is silky and fine with lingering flavours backed by balanced, easy tannins.
Kirrihill’s Clare Valley wines have impressed the Cuisine panel before, and this …2
Shinglebacks are solidly built, prehistoric-looking (but harmless) lizards that sun themselves in …3
This is a ripe and complete Barossa shiraz with a nose of …4
Jacob’s Creek’s credo with its famous red wines is constant improvement, and …5