The title says it all, these are 10 of the best Shiraz to pass the desk this month.
This isn’t a comprehensive last, as I probably taste somewhere between 6000-7000 wines a year (average 16-19 wines a day) and don’t write comprehensive notes for the bulk of them.
But these are the cream of the wines that followed me home for a closer look.
Balgownie Estate Centre Block Shiraz 2015
I really enjoyed the classical opulence of these 2015 Balgownie Shiraz wines. All three are generous, open and quintessentially rich Bendigo reds with heart and character. Real wines. This Centre Block red is the pick of the lot and comes from one of the oldest Balgownie blocks and feels very classic. There’s a delicious interplay between vanilla choc fudge oak/fruit, a dash of pepper and this lavish, but sufficiently savoury palate. If anything it feels Heathcote-esque, and the tannins are very classic too. No alcohol heat, proper grainy tannins and feels so substantial. A proper blend of old vs modern Bendigo. Yum.
Best drinking: Now to twenty years easy. 18.7/20, 95/100. 14.5%, $65. Would I buy it? Yes. Worth it for now or the future.
Balgownie Estate Rock Block Shiraz 2015
Named after the tonnnes of rock that were removed so that plantings could proceed. Handpicked, open fermented and minimal fining/filtration judging by the sediment in the bottle (love seeing that. Why fine reds that settle in barrel?). Has that delicious lavish choc berry richness and a deep, rich, and viscous palate. Red berries, deep plum fruit, despite the alcohol this feels hot at no time, just luscious and choc minty. Silky texture, it’s maybe too oak dominant but otherwise puts no foot wrong. Compared to the slightly more moderate Centre Block this feels opulent, and has more thick coffee grain tannins. An excellent wine.
Best drinking: Now to twenty years plus. 18.5, 94/100. 14.5%, $55. Would I buy it? I’d just prefer the Centre Block, but this is also a buy.
Gundog Estate Indomitus Rutilus Shiraz 2015
Classy Shiraz from Murrumbateman. Includes 30% whole bunches and 4% Viognier. Glossy red fruit, caramel chews, cranberry and a little sausage meat. It’s ripe, the vintage warmth giving a cooked plum and almond edge but with no heat. Indeed there is width here but it’s so polished, the palate molten and black fruited but precise too. Textural, finely tannic and cleverly built modern Canberra red in a riper form.
Best drinking: Now to fifteen years plus. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14%, $50. Would I buy it? I’d buy a bottle for sure.
Rouleur Shiraz 2017
Matt East’s superbly detailed Blewitt Springs Shiraz. Includes some whole bunches, and just 10% new oak. A gentle and fragrant style of Shiraz with floral purple fruit and a lovely evenness. A Pinot makers McLaren Shiraz with delicacy and complexity. There’s still depth here in a McLaren Vale mode, but with less force and harshness, helped along by the cool vintage. Delicious.
Best drinking: Now to fifteen years (but I enjoyed it immediately). 18.5/20, 94/100. 14%, $32. Would I buy it? A steal of a wine.
Yalumba Steeple Vineyard Shiraz 2014
Part of Yalumba’s single vineyard Shiraz range. This comes from a vineyard in Light Pass planted in 1919 and matured in French oak. 2,901 bottles produced. Very savoury and composed red with caramel/powdered chocolate oak and a mid weight palate. That fine oak texture and plum fruit meld in together into a moderate, very classical Barossan red. Great balance and reasonably subtle charms – it sneaks up on you with its evenness this red. Smart wine for the very long term.
Best drinking: Now to twenty years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 13.5%, $70. Would I buy it? Yes, but for the cellar.
Balgownie Estate Railway Block Shiraz 2015
From a block that is best viewed from the railway, deep maroon, it’s also marked by the luscious oak and a combo of juicy red and black fruit with a black jube edge. Primary, forward and even quite round it still a chunky and full flavoured Bendigo wine but with a real fruit pastille generosity. Plump and attractive and easy to like, if just a little more thick and heady compared to the other two Balgownie wines.
Best drinking: Now to twenty years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.8%, $55. Would I buy it? A bottle.
Bird on a Wire Syrah 2014
Another classy wine from Caroline Mooney, This Yarra Valley Syrah comes from a single vineyard in Yarra Glen. 25% new oak. Plump nose belies the vintage – will ‘14 ending up being classic thanks to its modesty? This combines warmer notes of fruit cake and brandy with more classic leaf litter, braised pork and soy, the palate vacillating between spice and richer black fruit. Ultimately it delivers an interesting drink – full and showing fruit generosity but with cooler spice too. I like it.
Best drinking: Now to fifteen years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $40. Would I buy it? I’d share a bottle.
Chapel Hill Shiraz 2016
Chapel Hill have always delivered smart contemporary McLaren Vale reds, but recent releases seem even better balanced. Typically generous Shiraz here, with cocoa powder oak, licorice, dark fruits and then a palate of sheer blackness fruits and a withering edge of chocolatey bitter tannins. Really enjoying the more savoury tannic mode of these new Chapel Hill reds and the oak is beautifully handled. A winner for that balance between opulence and tannins. Great price too.
Best drinking: Now to fifteen years. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $30. Would I buy it? I’d share bottle.
Mitchell Harris Shiraz 2016
This is what Pyrenees reds should taste like! From the Peerick Vineyard, this was wild fermented and includes 30% whole bunches, then spends 15 months in 1-5yr old oak. Purple red, there’s plenty of white pepper, then a middle that is surprisingly full, the oak driving the flavours forward, but with rich a palate that is still mid weight and driven by fine, real tannins. Such a composed wine, the acid keeping things taut and the finish detailed and composed, even though the best is yet to come.
Best drinking: Now to twenty years easy. 18/20, 93/100+. 13.5%, $35. Would I buy it? I’d want multiple bottles for the cellar.
Tim Adams Aberfeldy Shiraz 2014
The Aberfeldy style has barely changed in years, and here it’s in classic form. Spends 24 months in new American oak, and that oak is weaved through nose and palate, rich with milk chocolate sweetness and a little mint. The real appeal though is the texture – there’s a seamlessness here, an enveloping plum chocolate density that is undeniable and hedonistic. It’s a big boned Shiraz, and it’s as much about wine as it is oak. But no doubting the quality and appeal.
Best drinking: Now to twenty years easy. 18/20, 93/100. 14.5%, $65. Would I buy it? I’d like some in the cellar.
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Is it my imagination, or have Balgownies’ suddenly gone hyper commercial with a broad range of “new” releases ?