Why stop at just 10 great Shiraz for the month? Here is the follow on list of the best 11-34 Shiraz to pass the desk in October 2019.
Terre à Terre Shiraz 2016
Another flattering and ambitious red from Xavier Bizot and Lucy Croser. From the Crayères vineyard in Wrattonbully, there’s 12% Cab Franc in the mix, the blend spending 10 months in 48% new small oak, then a further 18 months in large, older foudre.
Toasty oak, but the luscious fruit pokes through the vanilla bean. Luscious, ultra-slick and rich palate, really plush and quite seamless. The Shiraz is the pick this year for the range, slick, ripe and built for the long term. Best drinking: wait. Wait for five years and then drink for twenty. It will live for decades too. 18/20, 93/100. 14.3%, $40. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Tim Smith Shiraz 2017
Tim Smith is the master at richly textured reds. Spends 20 months in French oak. Licoricey, generous Barossan red with the typical ‘come hither’ Tim Smith ripe fruit and integrated oak mode. Palate has not a hair out of place – it’s a smooth, lightly creamy, dark pastel fruit and vanilla oak-laden wave that lingers on. It perhaps needw just a little more tannin to kick into the next gear but I challenge you not to like this. Best drinking: now and will go for fifteen years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $40. Would I buy it? Yes.
Tokar Estate Shiraz 2018
The 2018 Tokar Estate range is a big step up. Huge. This Yarra Shiraz seems to have just blossomed beautifully. Jubey, but not overripe, with red raspberry fruit, the Pinot-esque, medium bodied palate lithe, light and dainty with no oak and a finely tannic finish that is red-fruited and pretty. Lovely delicacy here. Best drinking: now to ten years as a start. 18/20, 93/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Yes.
Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz 2017
Still a pup, this Vat 9 feels barrel sample-esque. Has that lovely ruby/purple Hunter Shiraz colour and it’s really quite medium, albeit in a ripe, sweet-fruited mode. But it’s just not in top gear yet. Seamlessness is the real play here, and the concentration sneaks up on you. I’d wait for it to gain some Hunteriness – as it seems like all fruit at the moment. Best drinking: wait! Five years really. Then it’s about whether you like a little Hunter earth or not. It will likely go long term (20 years easy). 18/20, 93/100. 13.7%, $90. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle. Likely more later.
Ubertas Project D Shiraz 2017
A new name with real promise. Oak coiffed, lovely textured modern Barossa red with a hedonistic mouthful of dark berry flavour. It’s a little warm, trailing with concentrated, anise flavour to finish. Nails the broad thick mod Barossa mode, if just a bit too concentrated (and warm) to be an easy drink. 18/20, 93/100. 15%, $50. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Bird on a Wire Syrah 2017
Fudgier than expected, it’s Syrah with impact. Clearly recognisable as Yarra Syrah though, with a black fruit edge. It’s just a bit too dry, too dark, and maybe a bit warm. But also so serious. Great tannins too. Classy wine, if just a little on the riper side. Best drinking: now to ten years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $40. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz 2016
Another very ripe red. Too ripe, fractionally, but in the mode. Built in the typical d’Arenberg fashion, with foot treading, basket pressing and no fining or filtration. Dense purple maroon colour, its powerful, dense and boozy palate has an impact, but tends towards alcohol too quickly. Thick set and black fruited, with oak tannins drying things out towards port town. No other way to describe it. Admirable intensity, and will unfurl. But of a style (and ultimately a little hard going). Just add spirit…. Best drinking: I’d go earlier, as although it will improve over the short to medium term, I wonder about that warmth. 17.7/20, 92/100+. 15%, $75. Would I buy it? A glass. Maybe.
Gippsland Wine Company Rhyll Vineyard Syrah 2018
Gippsland isn’t normally a region you’d lean towards for Shiraz. But there’s fragrance here. Reminds me of a Yarra Shiraz from a cool year in many ways. A lick of vanilla, the glossy berry fruit seems smudgy at first – like fresh squished blueberry. But it’s actually light, lithe and black peppercorn strewn. A pretty, modern Syrah. Maybe lacks some oomph? Best drinking: I’d drink over the next ten years. Maybe more like eight in case it fades. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $40. Would I buy it? I would like to share a bottle next year to see where it goes.
Huntington Estate Bin 18 Shiraz 2015
This is in the Mudgee old school groove. Dense, chocolatey sweet oaked red with lots of oak, 90s style choc (American?) oak and plum fruit. Still, the palate is savoury, the finish much fresher than expected and good tannins. That heartiness is pretty appealing really, even if a little less oak would be welcome. Best drinking: now to twenty years. This style will live forever. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $32. Would I buy it? A bottle for the cellar maybe.
Juniper Crossing Shiraz 2017
From the original dry-grown plantings, this is a reminder that Margs Shiraz can be pretty and approachable. Includes 10% whole bunches. Spends 14 months in 10% new oak. Purple red and unmistakable cool climate Shiraz, with cranberries and soccer ball ham. Real tannins too. Finely grippy, the style just mid weight but not unripe. This is a great $25 red. Best drinking: now to 8 years plus. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? Sure would. A relative bargain.
Kaesler Old Vine Shiraz 2015
Typically the more savoury of the Kaesler wines, with a very dark, molten caramel blackness. Like a wave of concentrated fruit, if a bit drying at the edges. It’s too warm, too boozy, but so black and deep. Power, if compromised by the alcohol to finish. Best drinking: it will live for fifteen years, sure, but you can open whenever you want a hit of limitless dark fruit flavour. 17.7/20, 92/100. 15%. Would I buy it? Not my thing, so no.
Levantine Hill Melissa’s Paddock Syrah 2015
Another of the stylish Levantine releases, though I think the Syrah sits behins the Pinot, Cab blend and Chardonnay. Red raspberry fruit, well judged generosity with an edge of cloves and white pepper. A nicely built Yarra Syrah. Red fruit, cloves, the black tannins all fruit, with a tight finish. Solid, but not quite the conviction for these dollars. Best drinking: From now to ten plus years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 13.5%, $200. Would I buy it? Not at this price.
Nepenthe Apex Shiraz 2016
Many ’16 Hills reds are weighty wines, and you can see it here. Deep red colours. Lavish nose is flush with vanilla oak, a little mint and then a warm, modern plush palate. Aside from the lift of mint, this doesn’t feel like a classic Adelaide Hills red but has some sophistication and carry through the finish. One step back on the ripeness would be welcome. Best drinking: now to ten years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $80. I can’t justify the dollars.
Pirathon Silver Shiraz 2016
The middle wine in the Pirathon range. Curiously they all have similar handling, so likely more barrel selection. Spends 24 months in oak. Deep purple red, it’s drenched with ultra concentrated dark fruit, oak, more oak and then more super charged fruit. More is more here, a concentrated and deep red of real hedonism. Maybe a little too much hedonism? Quailty regardless. Best drinking: now to fifteen years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $49. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Pontifex Shiraz 2017
Luscious, oaky, in a ‘oak is sexy’ mode. Oak on the nose, oak on the palate. Generous palate is oak smoothed and silken. Slightly syrupy oak, but the balance underneath is excellent. I’m in two minds as it is so oaky, but the texture and balance is excellent. Best drinking: now to fifteen years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $35. Would I buy it? Not for me, but commercial appeal is high.
Thomas Wines Elenay Shiraz 2017
Famously the ‘lips and assholes’ leftover barrels blend for Andrew Thomas, but doesn’t look inferior. It tends towards the bigger end – more Kiss than Belford – but with a chocolatey bite. It’s just a little bit warm, and the alcohol sticks out a little too. Quality, if not the cohesion of the single vineyard wines. Best drinking: now to fifteen years. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $55. Would I buy it? There’s others in the range I’d open first.
Tim Smith Barossa Shiraz 2016
Barossa and Eden fruit. Big, warm-hearted luscious Barossa red with generous plum fruit tending to plum liqueur and some chocolate oak. Perhaps too warm compared to the vintage above, but nails the appeal. Best drinking: now to ten years easy. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14.5%, $40. Would I buy it? I’ll have the ’17 first.
Bremerton Selkirk Shiraz 2017
A value standout from a winery that does value standouts well. Drenched with tarry black fruit flavour, as ever, but it’s delivered more moderately this vintage. A slick of vanilla bean paste oak, spearmint and still grippy tannins (and warm alcohol). A big bold Langhorne Creek wine that overdelivers on flavour and will be even better next year. $22 well spent. Best drinking: ten years without even trying. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $22. Would I buy it? Not personally, but so many people will love this wine.
Chateau Tanunda 100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2015
Super ambitious and built for the export market (arguably). Spends 21 months in new and old American and French oak. Condensed milk oak, sweetly generous fruit that is just off raisined, ultra concentrated, the oak folding in to give choc sweetness but the alcohol bites hard. Decadence, but arguably overdone too. Warm finish too. Fruitcake syrup, molasses, the only savouriness coming on back palate. I can admire the heft of a wine like this, hence the score. Best drinking: I wouldn’t wait, it’s already too much. Sure it will live but never get better. 17.5/20, 91/100. 15%, $150. Would I buy it? No.
Harewood Estate Reserve Shiraz 2014
Harewood’s top red From Frankland River and Mount Barker. Spends 20 months in oak. Condensed milk oak is the first, second and third flavours here, to the point where identifying a region is hard. There’s dense fruit underneath, and no doubting the quality – it’s plush and substantial. But regionality is a distant second. Best drinking: a few years in bottle will be kind. Wait five and check back. 17.5/20, 91/100+. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? Nah.
Koonara Ezra’s Gift Shiraz 2016
Coonawarra red. Spends 18 months in oak. Measly 1 tonne acre yields too! Deeply dense and bulky red. It feels like we could be back in 2000 with that sort of winemaking. Big oak tannins too. A relic, but there’s a swishness of oak. A ripeness and an outright plushness that overcomes the mega oak. Will live and it’s not unbalanced. I couldn’t drink it though. Best drinking: wait a few years and then it will live for fifteen or more years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.5%, $40. Would I buy it? No.
Levantine Hill Syrah 2016
Super savoury and Rhoney, if a step behind the single block wines in concentration. Handling is like Pinot. Some whole bunches. 1-3 weeks on skins. Super spice factory. Lacks that meaty ‘16 character but swaps it for pepper and rosemary. Arguably too much spice, and needs a little more juiciness. Cleverly complex though. Drying finish lacks a little generosity. Style, but a little mean too. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $80. Would I buy it? Not at that price.
Pikes Eastside Shiraz 2016
From Estate fruit on the Polish Hill River. Medium bodied, oak taking a back seat, the fruit all red fruited, the style affable, gentle and squishy (but not light). Not unbalanced and even has some regional mint. Good, solid Shiraz. No alarms, no surprises. Best drinking: over the next ten to maybe fifteen years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $32. Would I buy it? Worth a glass.
Silkwood Estate The Walcott Shiraz 2017
Pemberton Shiraz. Best Shiraz yet for Silkwood! A slick of vanilla oak to start, but it settles into the wine as it goes, the style mid weight, lightly peppery and yet with sufficient ripeness. Pinot-esque weight, and save for the tannins you’d assume made like Pinot too. Lightly astringent tannins aren’t perfect, but this is good, firm, and savoury yet not un-generous. Best drinking: over the next maybe eight years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? A glass.
Thomas Wines Sweetwater Shiraz 2017
Generous and plump. This has a real plump mulberry and boysenberry vibe this year. Purple fruited, well handled palate is all ripe vibrant fruit, if perhaps too generous and venturing into jamminess. Minimal tannins, oak not noticeable. Lots of fruit. Can’t knock the appeal. Best drinking: now to ten years (or more given the track record). 17.5/20, 91/100. 14.3%, $35. Would I buy it? A glass.
Tokar Estate Shiraz 2017
A step behind the superb 2018, but a fair drink. Wild ferment with plenty of whole bunches. Spends 9 months in oak. Musky red fruit, it’s a pretty, gentle and easy. A fraction overpriced for the concentration, but elegant too. Best drinking: over the next five years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14%, $40. Would I buy it? A glass or two.
Wills Domain Mystic Spring Shiraz 2018
The labels look a bit cheap for mine, but the wines are pretty good. Mushroom and cranberry with pithy tannins and just the right amount of mid palate fleshy chocolatey richness. Mid weight, tannic, slightly warm and drying, Margaret River red at a great price. Best drinking: now to six years. 17.5/20, 91/100. 14%, $22. Would I buy it? A glass.
Bugalugs Shiraz 2018
Tim Smith’s bright and juicy modern Barossa Shiraz. Plum juice. Round and so affable. Genuine simple fun and authentic. 17/20, 90/100. 14%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass easy.
Castle Rock Estate Shiraz 2017
Porongurup Shiraz. Rosemary, mint and a little menthol in amongst the red fruit, the moderate palate just a bit minty but savoury and polished. I’m still not convinced this is a Shiraz site (hello Riesling instead), but this slightly minty, meaty red still has a certain charm and savoury, cranberry sweet/sour appeal. Is it proper ripe? That’s the question. Best drinking: next ten years I guess. 17/20, 90/100. 13.5%, $30. Would I buy it? Not really.
d’Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz 2017
The best Footbolt in years, it’s plump and round and slippery, though still with those d’Arenberg tannins and a whiff of meat. Round plum fruit is the hero though and with no alcohol warmth. Bargain. Best drinking: now to six years. 17/20, 90/100.
14.5%, $20. Would I buy it? Worth a glass and would recommend.
Harewood Estate Shiraz 2017
Plump and plush, you could pick this as South Australian not Great Southern. There’s some blue fruits in there to give the cooler origins away but otherwise it follows a similar non-regional script to Reserve Shiraz. It’s very plump, polished, oak woven through and light tannins. Fruit bomb fun. A little syrupy, but pleasure here. Best drinking: now to six years. 17/20, 90/100. 14.5%, $20. Would I buy it? A glass maybe.
Koonara Angel’s Peak Coonawarra Shiraz 2016
Dense, minty, oak drenched Coonawarra Shiraz with lots of everything. Lots of milkshake oak, warm finish, big flavours and plenty of acidity. Barrel sample-esque energy. Oak shaped though. The back end is not unbalanced and the sheer heft of it suggests a long life. The acid bites a bit though and balance not there. Best drinking: will likely look better in a few more years, then for a decade easy. 17/20, 90/100+. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? No.
Thomas Wines Synergy Shiraz 2017
Probably the lesser of the range and doesn’t have quite the personality. It’s a ripe, chocolatey, slightly sweet and sour Hunter red in a chunky style despite leaning towards medium bodiedness. Plenty of acid, plenty of vanilla bean. Acidity is a bit raw, as are the tannins. But it’s chunky enough to satisfy. Best drinking: over the next eight years, probably more. 17/20, 90/100. 14.3%, $25. Would I buy it? Nah.