One score in fives
Twenty shiraz wines in four brackets of five wines each, $20s, $30s, $40s and $50 plus
Nine regions are represented
- McLaren Vale
- Barossa Valley
- Orange Region
- Margaret River
- Clare Valley
- Ballerine Peninsula
- Langhorne Creek
The vintage range is from 2013 to 2016 with points stretching from 89 to 98 but the most frequent score being 94. Top price is $100 lowest $23.
What’s to be said about the lowest score going to the cheapest wine and the highest score to the most expensive wine? Could be the value/price ratio is correct, price influences my tasting, pure chance, anything readers wish to think.
Section summaries at end of each bracket
The swinging twenties
Redman Coonawarra Shiraz 2013: Dry earth nose, thin on entry and remains light on the journey but the flavours are interesting enough to keep it from boring, works better with food 89 points and OK price at $23 although a lot of wine around at that or lower prices
Parker Coonawarra Shiraz 2015: Mint on the nose and across the palate, not so much its obstructive but enough to separate drinkers into like/dislike the style. I can enjoy it so it’s OK for me and the price at $24 would be OK others in the non-mint camp may think otherwise, 91 points
Bethany ‘Bethany Creek’ Barossa Shiraz 2014: Floral on the nose with slight volatility, straight forward across the palate no great highs 90 points the asking price is $25 it has a lot of competition.
Thorn-Clarke ‘Shotfire’ Barossa Shiraz 2015: Slight dusty (good) nose one could say aged character but its only 2015 vintage. Fruit comes through on the palate and it’s a gorgeous mulberry/blackberry tart fruit style never heavy but no weakling, well balanced, good food wine. 94 points and $27 is very good value.
Angove ‘Whole Bunch’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016: Light on the nose and light on entry, it opens up at the half way point and ends as a very pleasant glass of wine 91 points top of its price range at $28
The Thorn-Clarke stood out above the others in this bracket. The ‘others’ were fine and if offered a glass at friends where I was more interested in the conversation than the wine I would sup quite happily. Isn’t that the point of simple enjoyment? I found the Angove was just too young, rushed to market to aid cash flow? Maybe but a pity as more could be done with the wine.
The sedate 30s
Oliver’s ‘Taranga Vineyards’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015: Dark and deep in colour, nose intense vinous perfume. On entry it fills the mouth with rich flavour, it slowly roles and turns on its journey and comes to a slow satisfying finish 93 points worth its $30
Redman ‘The Last Row’ Coonawarra Shiraz 2014: Clean and light on the nose, easy even texture in the mouth soft subtle points of flavour emerging as it travels, good length on the finish 92 points top of price range at $30 but not outlandish
Thistledown ‘Firebrand’ Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2016: Instant mouth filling impression and full on spice flavours, it’s all up front a rounded jolly plump fictional vicar sort of wine, 92 points top price at $30
Paxton ‘Jones Block’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014: Clean, black fruit dominant nose fruit also dominates on the first part of the journey but acid and tannin come into play mid palate and other flavours including a hint of savoury bring the wine home, 94 points and worth $38
Scotchmans Hill Ballerine Peninsula Shiraz 2014: Savoury on the nose and on the palate, an elegant wine that impresses in all parts on its journey and the aftertaste 95 points and value at $35
The Oliver’s, Redman and Thistledown were all sound representations of region winemaking and within an accepted price range. The Paxton lifted its McLaren Vale fruit to a higher level giving the taster/drinker more to think about, the flavours and more urge the drinker to draw them out and explore further. I’ve written little about the Scotchmans Hill in the tasting note simply because it blew me away it’s an adult wine no sticky kiddy pandering sweetness it’s also intellectual prompting thought, a wine to sip and meditate with.
The roaring forties
Mule ‘Malakoff Vineyard’ Pyrenees Shiraz 2016: Very attractive nose, lots going on but also seductive sums it up. It’s a slender wine, sinew is a word that comes to mind it slowly stretches across the palate leaving pleasurable contentment in its wake 95 points worth $45
Mule ‘Gateway Vineyard’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2016: The nose is ripe black plum, on the palate its bitter/sweet flavours which are good and help at the table with food, it lacks great depth and the finish is shorter than expected. 93 points pushing the price barrier at $45
Thistledown ‘Two Roads’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016: Rich on the nose and full on the palate is a simple description, but there is more to this wine, there is an underlay of complexity that makes it more interesting it gives the drinker something to explore 94 points just an OK price at $45
Kilikanoon ‘Golden Hillside’ Clare Valley Shiraz 2015: I got good leaf tea on the nose and cool elegance in the mouth, a wine of intrigue and character a graceful movement across the palate pleasing all the way 94 points and worth $45
Bethany ‘Lawrence & Edna’ Barossa Shiraz 2014: Bramble hedgerow nose, luscious characters in the mouth with the classic Barossa hints of chocolate wonderful buxom shiraz 94 points worth its $48
Five wines four regions three vintages with an average score of 94 and average price a little over $45. The shiraz spectrum is well represented in these five wines from the tight sinew of the Mule Pyrenees to the buxom Bethany, five interesting wines
The over 50s
Churchview ‘The Bartondale’ Margaret River Shiraz 2013: Old world nose, or put another way a touch of volatility present, it dissipates in a short time so no great issue. The volatility also lifts the flavours also OK by me the finish is on the hot side and the balance could be described as wobbly 90 points and stretching luck and gullibility asking $55
Highland Heritage Orange Region Shiraz 2015: Light on the nose and on entry, it sits very pert at the front of the palate but increases in intensity as it glides across the palate like a slender body swathed in silk 95 points and worth a try at $55
Oliver’s ‘Taranga Vineyards HJ’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013: Power on the nose, some is oak but there is a heap of fruit smells coming through as well, oak still to the fore on the palate but again there is much more behind so 94 now and I think two more to come as it settles down and the right price at $55
Curtis ‘Fifth Realm’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015: Slight spice nose with black fruits gentle start but builds in steps as it transverses the palate, a little short on the finish but a good wine 94 points top price at $60
Allegiance Wines ‘Unity’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2014: Intense sums it up, but to start at the beginning. The nose is incredible it’s all things nice not sugar but spicy fruit cake on the palate it goes forever deep, deep flavour curling and griping python like to all pleasure points and slowly squeezing all that can be squeezed out of each one. 98 points $100 is high but if the wallet allows than buy it.
No matter the wish of producers and Wine Australia to lift the average price of Australian wine around the world, wines that retail over $50, or the equivalent in the local market attract few buyers.
It’s not the worth of the wine but the income of the buyers that prevents sales. These five are fascinating, the Highland and Oliver’s representing opposite ends of the spectrum, the Churchview totalling losing the plot and the Allegiance showing what the Barossa does so well. It’s doubtful if many readers will have the opportunity to sit and play with five such wines at one time. All I can say, it was a privilege