While I struggle through the man flu and can’t smell anything, here are a few Shiraz/Syrah to pass the desk recently.
Leeuwin Estate Art Series Margaret River Shiraz 2014
This is the best Art Series Shiraz I’ve had. So lively! Delightful aromatics – real intriguing array of dark spices, even a hint of curry powder going on here. The whole spice shelf. Oak a rich swathe through the middle, but still in a medium bodied, polished cool clime mode. Is it too round? I’m not complaining; and indeed a closer inspection reveals proper tannins. This is a very attractive side of Margaret River Shiraz. Really very good, and in another year likely to be even better. Best drinking: 2017-2028. 18/20, 93/100+. 13.5%, $37CD. Would I buy it? Yes I would.
Alkoomi Frankland River Jarrah Shiraz 2011
The extra bottle age works a treat here, the leaf litter and black pepper nose taking it cues more from the northern Rhone than the Barossa. There’s a cedary regalness to this, a leafy, firm and very savoury style that in some ways is too autumnal. Yet the intensity of the flavours are impressive, wavering between boysenberry and meaty bottle age bits, all supported by grippy tannins to win the charm game. Unlikely to win trophies, but much to enjoy. Best drinking: 2017-2030. 18/20, 93/100. 13.8%, $45. Would I buy it? A few glasses with slow cooked meat.
Balgownie Estate Bendigo Shiraz 2014
As ever a big wine, but not ugly. Dark fruit, dark chocolate oak, dark, warming flavours. There’s an effortless blackness here – a deep, all consuming black, licoricey, almost tarry width. It’s fractionally boozy, but not dessicated, just driven by black, almost molasses intensity. Packs a massive wallop of flavour, with a length that is something else. Impressive, but can you forgive the alcohol warmth in a quest for length like that? I can. Will live forever too. Best drinking: 2020-2034. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? A glass or two now, more later.
Dromana Estate Mornington Peninsula Syrah 2014
Mornington Shiraz/Syrah is a tricky concept to nail. A warm site and some clever winemaking, however, can deliver something tasty. This Syrah just picks at the edge of peppery ripeness, the sour plum fruit cool and lean edged, but still some nice boysenberry fruit to it too. Restrained and meaty, maybe a little bony, but fragrant and ultimately satisfying a proper cool clime mode. Good. Best drinking: 2017-2025. 17.8/20, 92/100. 14%, $58. Would I buy it? A glass or two. Not cheap though.
Rouleur McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016
Matt East has a deft touch for making elegant wines, even in warm years. This comes from Terry + Judith Cooter’s vineyard at Blewitt Springs. Includes 15% whole bunches and uses some pre/post-ferment maceration. Matured for 12 months in mainly older oak. From a challenging vintage this is very well balanced. Careful modulation of red fruit here, even if it still feels like the components are pulling together. Even and not ‘made’ if too young. Best drinking: 2019-2028. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 14%, $32. Would I buy it? Yes. Enjoyable drink.
Leeuwin Estate Siblings Margaret River Shiraz 2014
The entry level Leeuwin Shiraz and shares much of the DNA of its much more serious brother. Plump fruit and primary purple berries aplenty. Has no shortage of tannins to give this plush – yet still very much medium bodied – red a push over the line. Is it a little astringent? Plenty of appeal and given that it is available for just over $22 in retail land, also great value drinking. Best drinking: 2017-2025. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $26. Would I buy it? Sure would.
Hither & Yon McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016
No lack of generosity here. Inky, rich mulberry fruit ago-go, if just a little cooked. Lots of plush, spirity plum fruit, with little tannins. Bold juiciness. Captures the southern Vale ripe style nicely. A little boozy tho. Lovely expensive richness really fills things out nicely. Forgive the booze and it’s great. Best drinking: 2019-2027. 17/20, 90/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? Not personally, but recommendable.
Riversdale Tasmania Syrah 2016
Young vine Shiraz (they use Shiraz on the back label) from the Riversdale vineyard in the Coal River Valley. Bright purple and initially jubey, there is plenty of black pepper and spice but its not unripe, indeed it’s a lovely flow of light sour plum fruit. It’s too light, but stylistically this is well crafted and pretty. Great style, just needs more vine age to build the concentration. Best drinking: 2017-2022. 16.8/20, 89/100. 13%, $36CD. Would I buy it? A glass.
Scotchmans Hill Jack & Jill Bellarine Peninsula Shiraz 2014
From Bellarine Peninsula fruit. Reductive plum jam is the story here, the power building through the middle, but still a little furry and just ripe. Over filtered? Pleasant and easy, if lacking in punch. Best drinking: 2017-2021. 16.8/20, 89/100. 14.5%, $30-$50 RRP in restaurants (whatever that price means). Would I buy it? No.
Alkoomi White Label Frankland River Shiraz 2014
Bright and vibrant colours. A hint of Viognier? Simple flow of just squished grapes with plenty of sweetness but light tannins and substance. Nice juicy simple red. Great value. Best drink: 2017-2020. 16.5/20, 88/100. 14.5%, $15. Would I buy it? A glass. Would recommend with gusto though.
Tahbilk Victorian Shiraz 2014
Seems curiously wishy washy on the nose. A little indistinct. Dusty red berries and a solid mid palate. Really missing the tannin drive through the finish and the acidity is intrusive too. Curiously middling. Tahbilk Shiraz can live forever, but so unsure about this. Best drinking: 2017-2026? 16/20, 87/100. 14%, $25.70. Would I buy it? No.
Pooles Rock Premiere McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
From the Chairmans Vineyard in Blewitt Springs. Lots of purple juicy fruit, but it’s sweet and sour, the acid intrusive and the finish stripped and alcoholic. Balance isn’t right at all here, even if it’s a big mouthful of flavour. Best drinking: 2018-2024. 16/20, 86/100. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? No.
Zema Estate Coonawarra Shiraz 2013
Choc eucalypt aplenty. A ripe and full Zema Shiraz this one, the edges faintly scorched and the caramel vanilla oak a constant presence. Warm and drying finish both drying and tart. Not much fun. Will be better later though. Best drinking: 2019-2030. 15.5/20, 85/100. 14.5%, $25. Would I buy it? No.