I was asked to include my top 10 Australian Syrahs in this article.
I’ve no doubt that Australia makes the best value Syrahs on the planet, particularly when you are looking under the £25 mark. With this variety grown in every corner of Aussie wine country, and therefore under vastly differing soil types, microclimates and vintage conditions (which thankfully vary far more than one would imagine) this is the most diverse Aladdin’s cave of styles on earth. Add to this considerable vine age and experience and the results speak for themselves. The ability to pluck grapes from specific sites, exactly reflecting the postcode (such as Henschke Hill of Grace), or to blend across regions (such as Penfold’s Grange), layering flavour upon flavour, gives Aus a winning joker in its pack. There is an innate understanding of site here and this is the key to its wine success. Medium-weight, ‘peppery’ is the vogue, so Victoria (Yarra, Mornington, Great Western and the satellites all wow me) and WA (Margaret River and Pemberton) are getting some well-deserved airplay at the moment, but just watch when a great old Barossa, McLaren Vale or Clare bottle is opened and the ‘bigger’ style is allowed to weave its wonder. These wines shock more people in tastings than any others in my experience.
Yalumba, Y Series Shiraz / Viognier, South Australia 2008 4 star 17/20
It is amazing that this time-honoured recipe can be delivered with such style and panache for such a reasonable price. The purity of fruit here is world class and mesmerising in equal measure. Australian integrity at its finest.
Drink now £8 Tes
Prominent Hill, Shiraz, Adelaide Hills, South Australia 2007 4 star 17.5/20
This single vineyard, finely-tuned Shiraz is as European in flavour and outlook as it gets. It is a wine that refreshes and relaxes in equal measure. There are faint herb, leather and spice notes here which permeate the silky blackberry fruit. Cool climate precision.
Drink now – 2012 £12 Wai
Tahbilk, Shiraz, Victoria 2006 4 star 17.5/20
This inexpensive, everyday Shiraz seemingly ought to fall short of the standard set by the extraordinary portfolio at this historic estate, but it doesn’t. The Victorian tones suit this grape so well and the floral, red fruit and herb notes are sensational. It has an exact postcode and every time I open a bottle people go nuts.
Drink now – 2012 £12 WSo, Jer, Stn, BnC, Evy
Clonakilla, Hilltops Shiraz, Canberra District 2008 19/20 5 star
The winner in the current line up of Clonakilla wines in the UK is the cheapest! It is ready to drink, but it also has supreme balance and poise. The priceless flavours of cracked pepper, iodine and the most Grand Cru blackberries of all time are nothing short of mindblowing.
Drink now – 2015 £15 CkO, You, F&M, HvN
First Drop, Two Percent Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia 2007 18/20 4 star
The reserve Shiraz in the First Drop range is new to the UK, and the two per cent, in this instance, is Albariño (well the First Drop website says that it is, but this must surely be Savagnin?)! Never has Barossa Shiraz been tamed this way. It is a typically irreverent gesture from winemaker Matt Gant and it somehow works.
Drink now – 2015 £18 ScC, Cmb, HgD
Paringa, Peninsula Shiraz, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria 2007 18/20 4 star
One of the most awarded wineries in the country is supposed to be a Pinot specialist, but these peppery, seductive, sensual Shirazes keep picking up gongs. This is ready to go and it’s like a top flight Crozes on Viagra.
Drink now – 2013 £24 Swg
Jim Barry, McRae Wood Shiraz, Clare Valley, South Australia 2005 18/20 4 star
Fully mature, top of the line Aussie Shiraz at a decent price – the McRae Wood is a stupendous property which the late, great Jim Barry bought forty-five years ago and it’s where he planted his first Shiraz vineyard. Made with lashings of American oak and swathes of blueberry, cinnamon, tar, lavender and vanilla this is one of those wines that is so evocative you barely know where to start.
Drink now – 2015 £21 Wai
Plantagenet, Shiraz, Great Southern, Western Australia 2007 18/20 4 star
A dusty, coffee bean nose and a mocha and plum palate signify a really beautiful effort from Plantagenet. Medium-weight, aromatic and very long, this is a wine with a fabulous future and it offers a different falvour profile from those wines from SA and Vic.
Drink now – 2015 £25.00 Ben, Vir, You, Wmb, WSo
Petaluma Shiraz, Adelaide Hills, South Australia 2007 18.5/20 5 star
With a well-defined ‘Northern Rhône’ chassis, and beautiful aromatics and lift on the nose, this newer style SA red has already caught the attention of the restaurateurs in Australia because of its ease of glugging / pretensions to greatness ratio. With a subtle 1.3% Viog – it also thankfully manages to avoid becoming a member of the ever-shrinking gloopy ‘Viognier/Shiraz’ camp, which I abhor.
Drink now – 2018 £20 Wai
2007 St. Hallett, Blackwell, Barossa Valley, South Australia 18.5/20 5 star
A chip off the ‘Old Block’, Blackwell is a very clever wine, as it gives the illusion of massive weight and tannins, but it is quite the opposite. It is a dense wine with intensity and energy, but without any trace of coarseness or melodrama. This is the way forward for Barossa Shiraz.
Drink now – 2020 £16 Bib