It feels like Shiraz overload on here at the moment, but I promise there will be more diversity next week.
Anyway, these 11 Shiraz based reds were tasted at the Dan Murphy’s ‘Shiraz Expo’ at which I wandered around for about 40 minutes last weekend, picking out a few likely suspects to try and fighting the crowds in the process. Still, there were a few absolute highlights, with bottle age – and some dud recent vintages – playing a part in dictating the top wines.
I’ve listed these in ranking of best to worst, just because I feel like it.
Bests Bin 0 Shiraz 2005 ($55)
Delicious. Great Western at its finest. Plush, velvety, choc plum drenched – though not sweet – Shiraz with a big, firm and oaky palate that may be five years old but the freshness is uncanny. Lots of flesh and power and understated impact. Bests Shiraz has a habit of looking so bright and choc fresh at nearly any age (the 04 looks very similar) that you just know it will live and live and live. Love the style, love the wine, wish I had some in the cellar. 18.6/95
Metala Black Shiraz 2005 ($50)
What a surprise. A surprise largely as I was expecting something dark, rich and OTT and found something dark, intensely rich but impressively drinkable. There is on doubting the style here – very sweet, choc mint fruit and new oak driven, with a trace of raisining and no shortage of tarry impact or furry tannins. But for all this, it doesn’t taste like a caricature, just a bloody big red. The only negative is a bit of dehydrated fruit on the finish. Still liked this though (much to my surprise) and would happily recommend/drink. 17.8/93
Turkey Flat Shiraz 2007 ($45)
Another surprise, chiefly due to a few disappointing recent Turkey Flat wines. This wine is actually a rather good result for the vintage, with all of the richness and dry, extractive tannins that 07 Barossan reds show, without ever feeling dried out or poorly ripened. Good drinking. 17.5/92
Penfolds Bin 128 2008 ($40)
I’m not sure how many people will agree with me on this wine, nor if I will actually like it the second time around, but there was something oddly compelling about this Shiraz. Minty, peppery and rather true to its Coonawarra origins on the nose which I found rather appealing indeed. Palate is herbal, meaty and dry with some astringency towards the back, but this also translates into something to chew on. Interesting. 17.2/91
Chapel Hill ‘The Vicar’ Shiraz 2007 ($55)
Whilst I’d argue that this is probably vintage affected, it’s still a luscious red with lots of appeal. Bright, ruby red in colour and ‘glossy’ it’s just a bit rubbery but still beautifully smooth and rich, with that mid palate punch that McLaren Vale reds are renowned for. Finish is a bit semi-sweet, but it’s still quite drinkable. Should get better too. 17/90+
Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2008 ($45)
Just a tad disappointing, especially when compared to the high flying recent vintages. Love the fragrance though. Very pretty – invitingly pretty, with a leafy, pink-lamb-and-peppercorn meets raspberry fruit nose. Palate though is a jagged mess of sweet fruit and pointy acidity, tasting short and unconvincing. It might well sort itself out in time, but this really only gets a somewhat reasonable score because of it’s prettiness. 17/90
Voyager Shiraz 2008 ($40)
I’ve never been a fan of this wine, nor Margaret River Shiraz in general for that matter. I’d rather drink Margaret River Malbec, Merlot or Cab Franc to tell you the truth, but there remains the occasional impressive MR Shiraz just to prove the rule. This actually smells pretty good for Margs Shiraz, with peppered choc berries and lots of savoury juiciness. It loses marks though for it’s sour and astringent palate. Still an attractive enough wine, just not a great one. 16.9/89
Tar & Roses Shiraz 2008 ($15)
Good for the price, this smells and tastes great, let down only by some raging alcohol heat through the finish. I like the dark chocolate bitter-sweetness here, on both the nose and the palate, which helps imbue this with plenty of flavour intensity and lots to chew on (particularly attractive given the pricetag). Still, I can’t quite forgive the unbalanced finish. 16.5/88
Saltram No.1 Shiraz 2005 ($68)
All artifice and no balance. This smells overripe and cooked with stressed fruit characters all through it. Palate is a hulking shell of oak and structure, but no generosity to carry it all off. Lacking freshness for the dollars, though not lacking in impact. Not terrible, but not quite good enough either. 16.2/87
Mcwilliams Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz 2005 ($55)
Oaked and massively so. Jammed with oak in such a way that it tastes like timber and almost nothing else. Smells like it too. So un-Hunter that someone should be apologising to Maurice himself (an offering at his grave might suffice). Sweet and oaky. Did I mention oak?
The only caveat with this one is that – apparently – the similarly overoaked 2000 vintage of this is now drinking superbly, so it could well blossom with further bottle age. I won’t be investing in a bottle to investigate however. 16/86
Seppelt St Peters 2007 ($55)
WTF is happening with Seppelt? This is the latest underwhelming release from what is/was a famous estate. Rumours are that Fosters meddling has ruined the place. Judging by this example that may well be right, though the vintage could play a big part (even though the 07 Bests reds, sourced from literally across the road are good). It looks light, smells light and tastes short –
Ruby coloured, with a minty, reductive nose (swirling didn’t help). Palate is awkward and light, with dry, herbal characters through the finish. God I hope this was a bad bottle. 15.8/85