As it says on the tin, here are ten of the best Shiraz to pass the tasting bench this October. A special note to the breadth of Hunter Shiraz from Andrew Thomas and the classic Balgownie. They’re good Shiraz, Brent.
Balgownie Estate Bendigo Shiraz 2015
When Balgownie is on song, the wines are so very appealing. Weighty, chunky beasts but they won’t hit you around with sweetness or heat. Just old school concentration as the star. There’s all sort of extra bits going on in this ’15 vintage release too, with licorice, dark chocolate, Jaffas and blackberry flavour. The oak is a bit dominant, but it just adds an extra layer in the mix (and ensures this will cellar for fifteen years easy). Come for the power, stay for the tannins and sense of well-weighted flavours. Best drinking: will be even better in 3 years then drink for 15 or more years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14%, $45. Would I buy it? Sure.
Thomas Wines Kiss Shiraz 2017
It’s more a matter of personal tastes about which of Thommo’s multiple Shiraz bottling you want to take home, with few weak spots. This is the top dog in the hierarchy, and as you’d expect it’s on point. Plump, chocolatey Hunter Shiraz that is ripe but doesn’t lose its Hunter-ness. A bit jubey, savoury oak, nice red fruit. Ripe but doesn’t stick out. Its not until you have a second or third look that you realise just how concentrated this is. Top release. Best drinking: now for more than fifteen years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14.5%, $85. Quality wine, but I’m not sure I’d pay double the Dam Block dollars.
Thomas Wines ‘The Dam Block’ Shiraz 2017
From a 0.8ha block directly across from the Kiss vineyard source and shows the same blue fruits and savoury edge (or at least that’s what it says on the back label). Savoury is about right. It’s a shy wine on the nose, even if the palate is dense and quite chocolatey. Savoury finish and quite chewy tannins. Grows on you. Not opulent. Not overt. But begrudgingly dense and long. Quality, and more a personal taste thing about whether you drink this or Kiss. Best drinking: wait for another year or so, then will drink nicely for fifteen or more years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? Well worth a bottle in the cellar.
Huntington Estate Basket Dried Shiraz 2016
The latest Huntington releases have been great. This is a new wine to me and lots of interest – a Mudgee Shiraz with dried fruit in the mix (in case the name didn’t give that away). Real blackness of flavour here with more glycerol and great impact. Surprisingly not unbalanced, even savoury, if a built rum and raisin. Maybe not the Amarone like complexity, but has density and appeal. Good, large-framed Mudgee red. Best drinking: over the next decade and likely for twenty years. 18/20, 93/100. 15.5%, $75. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Robert Stein Reserve Shiraz 2014
Speaking of producers on a roll, Jacob Stein has a Midas touch, with the Mudgee wine show now known as the Robert Stein range review. This red comes from a single block planted in the late 70s. Handpicked with some whole bunches. Not as dark as you’d expect. A caramel vanilla oak overlay, then a mid weight, red fruited palate. That oak is a little overt, but it just reminds that this has serious intentions. Wine underneath eh looks ace, with this real dark fruit/olive heartiness going on. Another very good Mudgee red. Best drinking: will appreciate five years in the cellar, then drink for fifteen years easy. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $50. Would I buy it? Worth a bottle.
Shaw + Smith Balhannah Vineyard Shiraz 2016
Carefully coiffed modern Adelaide Hills Shiraz from a warm year. There’s a robustness to the palate here which you can’t deny, an extra dryness to the tannins, the flavours less red fruit and more plum and bacon. Quality, pencil shavings oak, no intrusive alcohol – great balance. It’s just a little drying to finish, that’s about it. Otherwise yet another good S & S red. Best drinking: now to more than a decade. 18/20, 93/100. 14%, $90. Would I buy it? Fine wine, but I can’t quite justify the price.
Soumah Syrah 2016
Yarra Syrah. Soumah nail Chardonnay and Pinot, but I haven’t enjoyed many of the Syrah. This is on form though. Handpicked, various picking dates and some whole bunches. 30% new oak. Great colour for ‘16. Drives with real black fruit and a whole lotta spice. Great balance between meatier, warm year heartiness and then pulled back by spice and thick tannins. A real mouthful of wine, yet walks on the right side of the palate weight profile. Best drinking: over the next decade. 18/20, 93/100. 13.8%, $40. Would I buy it? A bottle.
Sunshine Creek Shiraz 2016
Heathcote Shiraz. It’s so easy to judge a wine by the alcohol level on the label, and that’s what I did here. 15.5%? Yeah nah. But I was wrong. Decadence, warmth and ripeness writ large – reminds me of Jasper Hill in that mode a few years ago when the wines were real ripe. Inky, deep, savoury, with layers of black fruit, the blackness starts tight but fans out into final heat. Many layers of fudgey dark fruit and much Much alcohol. Perhaps too much, but there’s thought here. Best drinking: I’d go earlier rather than later. Drink over the next ten years. 18/20, 93/100. 15.5%, $45. Would I buy it? A few glasses will do.
Thomas Wines Belford Shiraz 2017
Probably the most ‘medium’ of the ’17 wines, despite the alcohol. Has pure blue fruits and this carefully weighted glossiness. Integrated, silken and classic Hunter red in a riper mode – round and instantly appealing. Maybe not the most long-lived of these 2017 releases, but flattering and rich. Best drinking: over the next ten years as a start. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $45. Would I buy it? A bottle for sure.
Thomas Wines The Cote Shiraz 2017
Luscious Hunter red. Dark colours, toasty oak, richness aplenty. At first glance you’d pick it as not Hunter, even though the core has lovely boysenberry fruit. Clever oak savouriness and a real chunkiness. Satisfying in its impact. Well done, if maybe slightly atypical and chunky. Best drinking: I’d consider waiting for a few years and then over the next fifteen years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $35. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.