As tastes change, both of wines and the foods they’re matched with, so winemakers are responding with different styles of wine, levels of alcohol, tannin and acidity. Nowhere is this more true than with Australian Shiraz. Two decades ago these wines delivered a heck of a punch with high concentration and alcohol levels. Retired Michelin star chef and New World wine expert, Roger Jones, looks back fondly as he samples and recommends 24 of the finest new style Australian Shiraz from the latest vintages.
“A tip on seeking value with Australian Shiraz is by going to the celebrated ‘Shiraz’ houses and looking down their list and trying their ‘inflation-beating introductory wines’,” writes Jones.
Roger Jones popped along to the annual Australia Day Trade Tasting and tried through a full range of Australian Shiraz wines. Australia has had great success with Shiraz along with a few hiccups en route, we all remember the early 2000s when it was common to have a boxing match in your mouth and a perfume of Piz Buin Sun Tan Lotion oozing from the glass but, rest assured, away from these brash wines were many great winemakers quietly evolving and making refined elegant Shiraz, even venturing to use the enemy’s name ‘Syrah’ on their label.
You will see a range of alcohol from 13.5% to 16.5% abv in modern day Australian Shiraz, but I would stress that you should taste the wines prior to condemning a product on its alcohol percentage. When you think of it, when drinking spirits often one seeks a higher % abv to get the best purity and quality. However, there are exceptional Shiraz made with a restrained alcohol and these are going to be huge crowd pleasures.
In the past Australian Shiraz was generally made to age for decades, with few consumers allowing these to age to maturity, rather they thought New World wines were for quaffing quickly and in quantity. I have been fortunate to taste great Australian Shiraz back to the 1940s and can assure you there are few greater pleasures in the wine world.
I always highlight food trends next to wine trends and, as meat and gluten are getting restricted more and more in diets, so people are also seeking a lighter style of wine, this does not mean that they have to give up Shiraz entirely, but merely look for a leaner, cleaner style that still holds that dark-fruited purity, spices and delicate oak.
A tip on seeking value with Australian Shiraz is by going to the celebrated ‘Shiraz’ houses and looking down their list and trying their ‘inflation-beating introductory wines’, including but not limited to: Penfolds, Jim Barry, Wakefield, Ben Glaetzer and Langmeil.
So, which Australian Shiraz stood out?
Leeuwin Art Series Shiraz 2018 13.5%
In comparison to the other Art Series wines from Leeuwin this is a bargain, rest assured as people get to know the quality this price will rise significantly, fresh, pure and vibrant, clean and precise, tiny bilberries dance on the palate with a beautiful perfumed nose, the bright flavours carry on an age on the palate. Strongly advise you to start collecting this wine, a new modern ‘Syrah’ style that really shows how refined and elegant Australian Shiraz can be. RRP £33.00 – Flint Wines
Wakefield ‘Jaraman’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2020 14.5%
This must be one of the best value Shiraz in the market, lovely purity silky fresh clean blackberries, clean cut vanilla spice, glides across the palate. RRP £18.00 – Louis Latour
Wakefield The Pioneer Shiraz 2015 14.5%
Seductive, gentle perfumed, silky and cool, this is restrained and so elegant, rich deep red fruit, enticing perfume of spice, plums and chocolate, touch of cedar and espresso coffee, with a refreshing ripe berry finish. RRP £75.00 – Louis Latour
Glaetzer Amon-Ra, Shiraz, Barossa Valley, 2020, 15.0%
One of the best from Ben, this is perfectly balanced, silky smooth that will age for decades. Ben’s wines with 20 years are a masterpiece but also drink well in youth, especially when decanted. They have that perfect balance of depth and freshness, that lives a lifetime. Relatively a bargain, and here I include a note on an aged Amon-Ra. £68.00 – Bancroft
Glaetzer Amon Ra, Barossay Valley 2005,14.5%
Dark Blue/Black opaque in colour, refined gentle but inviting perfumed nose, violets, rose buds, delicate cedar polish, on the palate a joyful mix of bilberries, Scottish Autumn raspberries, Tayberries, spices, rich and full but with an impressive racy freshness. Quite profound and amazing. Served from magnum.
Glaetzer ‘Bishop’ Barossa Valley, 2020, 15.0%
The baby Amon-Ra, “ black cherries, blackberries, dried spice and liquorice, balanced with mocha chocolate, lots of expressive notes and depth but still vibrant, silky and approachable now. £30.49 – Bancroft
Jim Barry Single Vineyard Watervale Shiraz, Clare Valley 2020 14%
Fresh and vibrant with a focus on bright dark luscious fruit, cocoa and spice, easy drinking especially at this price. RRP £18.00 – Hallgarten
Jim Barry ‘The Mcrae Wood’, Clare Valley Shiraz 2016 14%
Fabulous silky clean and focused, bilberries and blackberries, this is an outstanding wine that walks behind The Armagh, but still possessing great stardom, a real great wine to age. RRP £35.00 – Hallgarten
Jim Barry, The Armagh Shiraz, Clare Valley, 2018 13.6%
Mulberries at the fore, a classic Armagh, these wines get better and better, the new vintages have a precision about them a touch more clarity, a wine to cellar, stunning. £225.00 – Hallgarten
Rojomoma ‘Raj’s Pick’, Barossa Valley 2015, 14.9%
Only 30 cases made of this wine, produced in exceptional years, Bernie and Sam have a lovely partnership and their micro-winery produces a few hundred dozen cases only each year of quality varietals from some seriously old vines (some dating back to the 1880’s). Sam is a sixth generation Barossan, and for many years was the chief red winemaker at Orlando, overseeing the production of many world-famous brands including St Hugo and Wyndham Estate. Fabulous length and depth, aged in new French Oak, this is a wine to put down and see it evolve, fabulous tannins giving it a savoury edge. RRP £75.50 – Enotria&Coe.
Greenock Creek, one of Robert Parker’s 100 point darlings, under new ownership since 2018, making powerful big wines to age.
Greenock Creek Barossa Valley Shiraz 2019 15.5%
Clean and focused, great depth, bright fresh dark flavours, cassis and cedar, silky, joyful. Seeking Distribution €35.00
Greenock Creek ‘Stone Block’, Barossa Valley Shiraz 2020 15.5%
Violets and rose buds, precise, silky and pure, dark red berries, elegant. Cherries, black pepper, spices, mocha, beautiful. Spiced rum, dark fruited, meaty and luscious. Seeking Distribution €50.00
Greenock Creek ‘Alices’, Barossa Valley Shiraz 2020 16.0 %
Dark berries at the fore, white pepper, granite, meaty, luscious and very attractive. Sweet cherries, vanilla, chocolate, caramel and coconut. Seeking Distribution €38.00
Greenock Creek ‘Casey’s Block’, Barossa Valley 2020 Shiraz 16.0 %
Red berries and dark berries, precise, pure, love the purity and freshness of this wine. Caramel and spice, American oak to the fore, caramel with fresh acidity to keep it clean. Seeking Distribution €50.00
Greenock Creek ‘Fifteen Claims’, Barossa Valley Shiraz 2020 15.0%
Spectacular, gentle and clean, love the precision of this Shiraz. Blackberry and chocolate, flinty with fine tannins, mineral with spice. A wine to age. Seeking Distribution €120.00
Sons of Eden ‘Remus’, Eden Valley Shiraz 2016, 14.5%
50 year old vines, deep garnet in colour, perfumed red berries red red cherries, sage and white pepper. Rich and full flavoured wine, drinking well now but will continue to age with grace. RRP £51.00 – Awin Barratt Siegel
The Story, ‘R. Lane Vintners Westgate Vineyards’, Grampians Shiraz, 2015 , 13.5%
Aged for 8 years prior to release, this fresh vibrant lower in alcohol at 13.5% compared to most Australian Shiraz, delivers a delicate refined perfumed nose, then reminds me of the Northern Rhone, dark polished colour. Dark plummy and liquorice, winter spices, cedar and peppercorns, a beautiful wine. RRP £51.95 – Awin Barratt Siegel
Grant Burge ‘Filsell’ Barossa Shiraz 2020, 14.5%
Taught but evolves with a savoury bitter feel, then slips into a silky lingering bright fresh wine, tiny dark bright berries. RRP £25.99 – Accolade Fine Wines
Grant Burge ‘Meshach’, Barossa Valley Shiraz 2018, 14.5%
30th Anniversary of this wine, classification. This is a bright, vibrant, powerful yet elegant wine, dark chocolate and plum on the mid palate, with hints of aniseed and cinnamon on the end. A long, elegant finish with plenty of freshness to allow it to age for decades. RRP £125.00 – Accolade Fine Wines
Langmeil ‘Valley Floor’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2020, 14.5%
Dusty on nose, then bright red berries, opens up with delicate perfume and lingering flavours, exceptional value for money, elegant savoury, truffles and vibrant. RRP £19.99 – Berkmann
Langmeil ‘Orphan Bank’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2019, 15.0%
The perfumed nose on this wine is stunning, planted in 1860, the purity and silky length of this wine is brilliant, dark fruited, mouth-filling lusciousness, polished, cedar and spice. RRP £39.99 – Berkmann
Langmeil ‘Lineage’ Barossa Shiraz 2017, 14.5%
Peppery and spiced, dark black fruit, dried sage and rose buds, balanced with a lovely pure acidity, layered, textured and ripe flavours. Rather good now but will age. RRP £249.00 – Berkmann
Peter Lehmann ‘Stonewell’ Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016 14.5%
Pure elegance, full bodied, classic Stonewell with massive density and length. Blue and black fruits with ironstone and graphite tannins. A wine that will age for over 20 years. £55.99 – Liberty
2019 Torbreck, The Descendent, Barossa Valley, South Australia
The first hit is the mesmerising perfumed nose, then the silky dark fruited mid balance, pretty amazing now but will age with such grace, magical. RRP £87.00