Category Archives: Shiraz – Wine Reviews

Shottesbrooke – Winery in Focus – August 2016

Shottesbrooke – Winery in Focus – August 2018

Barry Weinman: 25th August 2018

Shottesbrooke hails from McLaren Vale and got underway with the establishment of the cellar door in 1994. Given the location, it is no surprise that there is a focus on Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet, complemented by aromatic white wines from the Adelaide Hills.

Winemaking is led by Hamish McGuire who took over as head winemaker in 2004. Hamish also happens to be the son in-law of founder Nick Holmes.

The wines are divided into a number of levels, starting with the Discovery Series, then ascending through the Estate, Single Vineyard and Reserve ranges. Complementing the core range are the 1337 and Expressions lines which include sparkling and fortified wines.

For me, the real interest is with the McLaren Vale reds. As might be expected, Shottesbrooke makes high quality Shiraz. The surprise for me was just how good the Cabernet-based wines are. Wines like the Punch Reserve have led me to reassess my preconceptions about the regions that the variety is suited to. Whilst it is a bigger style than Margaret River for example, with more obvious new oak, the wine remains balanced and age-worthy.

The pick of the range however, from a sheer deliciousness point of view, is the Single Vineyard Grenache. Fragrant and fine, a superb wine coming from 80 year old bush vines.


Shottesbrooke – Grenache – Single Vineyard – 2016 (18.4/20pts – $33). This took a day to really open up, but I was rewarded with fragrant plum, cherry and bright red berry fruit that was quite captivating. The palate has it all; Density, structure, slightly chewy tannins and persistent, high-quality fruit. Long, fine and silky, this is a treat now, but will also age well for 5 – 10 years. A beautiful wine.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Estate – 2012 (18/20pts – N/A). A delicious wine showing ripe fruit and hints of savoury complexity. The fresh acidity and fine tannins combine to make a great drinking wine. The length and complexity are noteworthy, but it is the delicious McLaren Vale Shiraz fruit that is the star.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Estate – 2015 (17.5/20 – $20). Mocha notes over ripe plum and red berry fruit. The palate is fresh and lively, with fine tannins and well-judged acidity adding life. The finish is quite chocolatey, with Middle Eastern spice notes building. Excellent fruit quality built in a medium bodied style that will be great drinking now with Moroccan food but really needs 5+ years to hit its peak (if the 2012 is any indication). Excellent Value.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Tom’s Block – Blewitt Springs – Single Vineyard – 2015 (18/20pts – $40). The pick of the current batch of Single Vineyards wines for me. The balance between ripe, elegant fruit and fine oak hits the sweet spot. The tannins are fine and supple, combining with the acid to keep the wine alive and fresh. Hints of sage on the finish make a lamb roast a great match. From a warmer year, fermented in and aged 16 months in older oak.

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Eliza – Reserve – 2014 (18.5/20pts – $60). Superb fruit on the nose that is ripe, concentrated and dense. Think plum and red berry, with vanilla/cedary overtones from the oak. The palate is thick with fruit. Very deep and dense, the concentration of fruit is palpable. There is a fine, almost silky mid palate that leads to a long finish that is a little shy now, but perfectly balanced. An impressive wine that, whilst just starting to open up, needs 10+ years to shine. Fermented and aged in new oak .

Shottesbrooke – Cabernet Sauvignon – Estate – 2016 (17.5+/20pts – $20). Lithe and supple by comparison to its bigger siblings, this is a fruit-driven wine that is approachable, has bright acidity and decent length. With air, the sweet berry fruit really shines, making for a very enjoyable wine.

Shottesbrooke – Cabernet Sauvignon – McLaren Flat – Single Vineyard – 2012 (18/20pts – N/A). A savoury, spicy wine that is complex and intense. Chewy and textured, with menthol, sage and rosemary, with an almost gamey note. This is a big, powerful, dense wine for those looking for a hearty red. Age-worthy.

Shottesbrooke – Cabernet Sauvignon – Punch – Reserve – 2012 (18.5/20pts – $60). Lovely cassis and fresh berry fruit to open, with hints of sage, rosemary and mint chocolate. The depth and density of the fruit is impressive, as is the balance, with the finish remaining lithe and supple, despite the intensity of the fruit. Very long, the oak is apparent on the finish, but is well matched to the fruit. At 6 years of age, this is just starting to open up, but is still worthy of extended time in the cellar.

Shottesbrooke – The Proprietor – 2012 (18.3/20pts – $60). Cabernet Sauvignon (49%), Merlot (42%) and Malbec (9%) aged in a blend of new and seasoned oak. Closed and subdued in comparison to the Punch, yet there is no doubting the quality of the fruit and winemaking. Somewhat of an iron fist in a velvet glove, this is fine and almost silky, yet there is brooding power to the fruit. Needs years to come around, but will be worth the wait.

Howard Park Scotsdale and Leston 2016

Howard Park Scotsdale and Leston 2016

Barry Weinman: 4th August 2018

I have written previously about just how good Cabernet can be from the Great Southern. Wines like the Jack Mann and Cherubino speak volumes about the potential.

Another fine producer of Great Southern Cabernet is Howard Park, with their flagship wine (The Abercrombie) having a significant proportion of fruit from the region.

So when the the2016 Shiraz and Cabernet from the Leston & Scotsdale ranges arrived, it was an excellent opportunity to sit back and look at how the regions differ.

At Howard Park, both the Leston Cabernet and Shiraz use fruit from Margaret River, whilst both Scotsdale wines are from the Great Southern.

As with previous vintages, what is most noticeable is how supple and fragrant the wines are from the Great Southern. These are seductive wines that are delicious now, but also eminently age-worthy, By comparison, both the Leston Shiraz and Cabernet are taut and restrained, needing years to show their best.

All four of the wines are excellent and ageworthy, so my suggestion is to drink the Scotsdales, whilst waiting for the Lestons to mature.

Also included in this tasting was the brilliant new Cellar Collection from 2016. This wine seems to combine the best of both regions, and at $35, seems like good value too.


Howard Park – Shiraz – Scotsdale – 2016 (18.5/20 – $50). Sweet, fresh strawberry fruit that is seductive and ripe on the nose, with savoury undertones of cedar and spice. The palate is firm, yet balanced, with fine tannins that frame the plum and redcurrant fruit. Hints of liquorice on a supple, textured finish. Delicious!

Howard Park – Shiraz – Leston – 2016 (18/20pts – $50). Opens with blackcurrant and mint, with hints of chocolate and dark spices. The palate is tight, firm and age-worthy, yet the finish is near seamless. One for the cellar and likely to score higher points in the future.

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Cellar Collection – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $35). Approachable, seductive fruit sets the scene, with a core of dark fruit and tannins that keep the mid palate in check and aid the overall balance. Aromas of mint, blueberry fruit and herbal notes add to the package. An extra half point for being absolutely delicious now, yet this would benefit from 5 years in the cellar.

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Leston – 2016 (18.5/20pts – $50). Impressive wine where everything is in balance. There is mint and eucalypt highlights to the bright berry fruit on both the nose and palate. It is the way that the palate comes together that is a stand out. The red fruits meld seamlessly with the fine oak and textural components from the mid-palate to the close. At the close, the tannins do shut down the fruit so give it at least 5 – 10 years to start to open up.

Howard Park – Cabernet Sauvignon – Scotsdale – 2016 (18+/20pts – $50). Riper, more approachable than the Leston, with the fruit in the red berry spectrum. That said, this is a serious wine with fine oak and silky tannins supporting the fruit nobly. The finish is carried by the acid, allowing this wine to be enjoyed in its youth, but the patient will be rewarded with a splendid wine in 10+ years.

New Release Shiraz – August 2017

New Release Shiraz – August 2017

Barry Weinman: 8th August 2017

Howard Park seems to be on a roll at present, with Janice McDonald in control of the winemaking. Recently, their wines under the Madfish label impressed the panel, but this time it was the turn of the Scotsdale and Leston Shiraz to steal the limelight. The drinkability of the Scotsdale (Great Southern) resulted in a slightly higher score, but both are excellent.

Leeuwin Estate also contributed a fine example of accessible cool-climate Shiraz, whilst the wines from Graylin and Cape Mentelle were tighter and restrained, needing years in the bottle.

At the budget end of the spectrum, the Wolf Blass Red Label is a fun, easy drinking wine (though personally, I would pay an extra dollar or two and buy their Yellow Label Shiraz).

Rounding out the reviewed wines was excellent South Australian Shiraz from two wineries that I had not seen before. I know nothing about Te Aro (Barossa), while Woodvale is a new label from Kevin Mitchell in the Clare Valley.


Howard Park – Shiraz – Scotsdale – 2015 (18.6pts – $46). Refined, elegant, finely structured and precise. Lovely fruit notes balanced by fine tannins and supple oak. Blueberry fruit is balanced by souring plum. Silky, long and near seamless this is delicious yet age-worthy. Excellent fruit and winemaking on show.

Howard Park – Shiraz – Leston – 2015 (18.5pts – $46). Supple cherry and plum fruit with licorice, cinnamon and spice. The mouth-feel is a highlight, with souring acidity and fine, texturing tannins. Bring on the steak, or ten years in the cellar.

Leeuwin Estate – Shiraz – Art Series – 2014 (18.5pts – $46). Very seductive nose full of red berries and plum. Supple and silky on the palate, yet retains drive and focus courtesy of the fine tannins and acidity. Irresistible; this requires no accompaniment, yet the tannin backbone will support medium term aging. ($36 at the winery)

Gralyn – Shiraz – Reserve – 2012 (18.3). Taut, refined, elegant. Cool region fruit that has red currant, licorice and gentle herbs. The mouth-feel is superb, with the feathery tannins and oak sitting tight with the fruit. Excellent length aided by souring acidity. Food friendly, yet age worthy. At only 12.4% alcohol, this is a remarkable wine.

Cape Mentelle – Shiraz – 2014 (18pts). Cool region fruit that is ripe, yet restrained, with tar, licorice, spice, black fruits and hints of forest floor. Textured and youthful, with chewy tannins to close. An impressive and age-worthy wine that should score higher points in years to come.

Scotchmans Hill – Shiraz – 2013 (18pts – $39). Inky, aromatic and savoury, with iodine notes. A dense and powerful wine that is a little different to the norm. The savoury notes give it an Italian feel, and this is sure to partner rich meat dishes well. Great drinking.

Te Aro – Shiraz – Charred Door – 2014 (18pts – $38   ). I really like this. Mint and eucalypt notes accompany the perfumed bright berry fruit characters. Supple mouth-feel, where the fruit is the main focus. The fresh acidity adds drive and will cut through rich sauces with ease. Excellent length of flavours. From the Barossa.

Woodvale – Shiraz – Spring Gardens – 2014 (18pts). Blueberry, spice and licorice on both the nose and palate. Made in a more approachable style, where the fruit is given primary focus and is balanced by savoury oak and tannins. Excellent drinking now, but also in 10 years. Made by Kevin Mitchell of Killikanoon fame (check out the oversized bottle).

Wolf Blass – Shiraz – Red Label – 2016 (17.5pts – $14). Pretty berry fruit that is both succulent and slurpable. Not overly serious, but a delicious early drinking style with decent length and berry aromas.

New Release Shiraz


New Release Shiraz

Barry Weinman: 24th January 2016

When the temperature is nudging 40° C, tasting Shiraz and blends is not the easiest task, as keeping the wines cool (around 20 degrees) can be a challenge.

This is also an issue for drinking red wines in general in summer. A decent steak on the BBQ deserves a good quality wine, but the temperature at which the wine is served at can markedly alter the way the wine tastes.

As the wine warms up, the alcohol and sweetness can become more obvious, whilst the fruit can take on stewed characters.

Typically, I like to drink my red wines at “cellar” temperature, which is around 18° – 20° C. The balance and structure seems to be at its best around this point. Much cooler and the fruit characters can become quite subdued.

Even so, once poured, the wine quickly warms up in the glass.

There is no perfect solution. For this tasting, whilst the wines left the cellar at the right temperature, by the time they were served, they were a touch warm. Thirty minutes in the bar fridge did just the trick, bringing the fruit into focus.

At home, I will put the bottle and decanter in the fridge for up to an hour before serving. The wine will be a little too cold when first poured, but will quickly warm up to an appropriate temperature. I also only decant part of the bottle initially if there is only a couple of us, so that the remainder stays cool.

Bird in Hand – Shiraz – Mt Lofty Ranges – 2014 (18). Rich, peppery, fresh fruit on the nose. The palate is polished, silky, generous and plush, yet the balance is spot on, courtesy of the well-judged acidity. The fruit is concentrated, plump and round, with no rough edges. A wine that is perfectly suited to drinking now, or with a few years in the bottle. Delicious. (RRP $42).

Leeuwin Estate – Shiraz – Art Series – 2013 (18+). Lovely fruit over gentle oak and cinnamon/spice. This is a lighter bodied style, with excellent balance and poise. Silky mouth-feel adds to the appeal. Very fine and long, a delight to drink now, or in 5 – 10 years. (RRP $43).

Streicker – Shiraz – Bridgeland Block – Syrah – 2012 (18). The nose is complex and savoury. Ripe fruit on the palate in a medium bodied style, which gets quite fragrant with air. Sweet fruit to close. Concentrated fruit with cherry ripe/coconut hints to close. . Layered, the finish is very long, but needs a few years to open up. A highlight of the tasting, this is under the Clairault umbrella (the Streicker family own Clairault and several prominent vineyards in Margaret River. (RRP $43).Gravel-Pit-Shiraz-202x480@2x

Willow Bridge – Shiraz – Gravel Pit – 2014 (18). Lovely fruit on the nose, with plum and licorice. The palate is balanced and smooth, with vibrant fruit and supple winemaking. The tannins build, combining with the firm oak to shut down the fruit slightly on the close. Give it up to 10 years in the cellar. (RRP $30).Dragonfly-Shiraz-272x480@2x

Willow Bridge – Shiraz – Dragonfly – 2014 (17.5). A delicious, good value wine with bright red fruits. The oak is evident, but not intrusive. Was at its best after sitting on the tasting bench for a couple of days, so may well benefit from a few years in the cellar. Do not serve too warm. (RRP $20).

Lindeman – Shiraz – Gentleman’s Collection – 2014 (17). An unusual wine, and one that was hard to judge. An altogether richer style, the sweet plump fruit is ripe and delicious with hints of chocolate. The addition of a small amount of fortified wine makes an impact, though the alcohol is only 14%, so it must be a very small amount. The sweet fruit on the palate has a touch of residual sugar, suggesting this could be served slightly chilled. (RRP $22).

Mid-Price Shiraz

Mid-Price Shiraz

Barry Weinman: 4th October 2015

This tasting reinforced two points

  • The diversity of wine styles that can be made with Shiraz
  • What good value Australian Shiraz can be

I am often asked whether a wine that costs $40 is twice as good as a wine that costs $20. Clearly the answer is no. Like most things in life, the law of diminishing returns applies. The incremental gains in quality become smaller as the price increases. Often, it is the intangible aspects like brand, reputation and label that justify the highest prices.

I also like to point out that mid-price Shiraz offers the best value red wines on the market. Between $15 and $25, there are a number of excellent wines.

In this tasting, there were a number of highlights. None more so than the Shingleback Haycutters. A remarkable wine for the price. That said, every wine reviewed here deserves consideration, be it for delicious current drinking or for cellaring.

RecommendedHaycutter Shiraz

Xabregas – Shiraz – 2012 (18.3). A very complex nose with earthy, raspberry fruit over chocolate notes. The palate is dominated by ripe fruit with plum, licorice and black pepper. This is multifaceted and evolving. Not for the faint of heart, this is a powerful, Shiraz that will be great now or over the next 5 years. (RRP $26).

Shingleback – Shiraz – Haycutters – 2013 (18+). Fine, intense fruit that is elegant and refined on the nose. The palate is long and dense, with powerful ripe fruit, grippy tannins and texturing cedary notes from the oak. The addition of 2% Viognier no doubt adding to the immediate appeal. A remarkable wine for the price. (RRP $17).

Angove – Shiraz – Family Reserve – 2014 (18).. Dense, chocolaty fruit here, so typical of McLaren Vale. The palate is almost thick, with rich plum, licorice and mocha notes. Concentrated fruit, but not overripe, the fresh acidity and fine tannins conferring life to the finish. Try it with a BBQ steak this spring. (RRP $22).

Hollick – Shiraz – The Baird – 2013 (18). White pepper, raspberry and plum fruit characters over spice, cinnamon and leather The ample fine tannins and texturing oak add to a chewy, mouth filling palate that is both long and intense. A powerful cooler climate wine that is excellent value. (RRP $24).

Leeuwin Estate – Shiraz – Siblings – 2012 (17.8). Fresh, elegant fruit on the nose, with white pepper and spice over satsuma plum and red currant. The finish has vitality, with the elegant fruit the key feature. There is also very good length. Clearly cooler climate, this is a delicious, earlier drinking wine. ($22 from Dan Murphy).

Redman – Shiraz – Coonawara – 2012 (17.8). Real depth and weight to the fruit, with mint, eucalypt, spice and licorice. The palate has vibrant, good quality fruit, but the tannins and acid close the finish down. A serious effort that needs a few years to open up. I preferred this to the current release Cabernets for this Coonawara Stalwart. (RRP $30). (Cork Closure)

Shiraz – New Release – August 2015

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

Shiraz – New Release – August 2015

The inclusion of several “pairs” of wines made this a really interesting tasting.

The first pair were Shingleback “Red Knot” Shiraz’s. It was remarkable to see how much the 2012 had filled out with the two extra years in bottle. Admittedly, 2012 was a great year, but no $15 wine has a right to drink this well after a couple of years in the cellar. The just released 2014 may be even better, and is sure to follow in its footsteps.

The other pair of note came from Shottesbrooke. Both were from the highly respected 2013 vintage, and both made in a similar fashion. But coming from different sub-districts, the differences were notable. The Jenkin’s Vineyard expressed cooler fruit characters in a reserved style, whilst the Blewitt Springs had lovely McLaren Vale fruit characters, albeit in a medium-bodied version.

ReviewedShingleback Red Knot Shiraz

Shingleback – Shiraz – Red Knot – 2012 (17.8). Sweet, succulent, almost perfumed fruit, with a savoury undertone. The palate is vibrant and plump, with enough acid and structure to keep the finish interesting, complementing the dense fruit and fine tannins. Lovely chocolate characters to close. Really smart drinking.

Shingleback – Shiraz – Red Knot – 2014 (17.8). Fresh and vibrant fruit on the nose. The palate is only mid-weight, allowing the uncomplicated, lively and youthful fruit to be the main focus. There are fine tannins and a lick of oak to close. Excellent easy drinking now although a year or two in the cellar would not hurt at all. (RRP $15).

Leeuwin Estate – Shiraz – Art Series – 2012 (18). Perfumed vanilla notes abound on the nose, with quite pretty fruit. Quality fruit evident on the palate, with excellent acid and oak. The finish is very long, firm and almost chewy. Needs time to come together, but will reward the patient. (RRP $38).

Fifth Estate – Shiraz – 2011 (17.7). Closed and quite tight. The dense fruit has plum and chocolate characters, with menthol and a touch of black pepper on the palate. This is an impressively powerful and dense wine that coats the palate with layers of fruit and savoury oak. The length and persistence are noteworthy. Decent value. (RRP $19).

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Blewitt Springs – 2013 (18+). Beautiful sweet perfumed fruit on the nose. Pretty floral notes with a hint of vanillin oak adding depth. The floral fruit continues on the palate, with fine tannins and oak, along with well judged acidity adding drive and focus to the finish. Classic medium bodied McLaren Vale Shiraz, in an elegant form. Will age well. (RRP $50).

Shottesbrooke – Shiraz – Jenkin’s Vineyard – 2013 (18). Menthol and spice to open on the nose. The palate is dense and textured. The finish is chewy and structured, while the length is impressive. Deceptive, as while there is lovely forward fruit with air, the finish is very powerful. Drinking now or in 5 – 10 years. (RRP $40).

2012 Shiraz – Benchmark Tasting @ Faber Vineyard

30th June 2015

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

There are a number of great comparative tastings held each year in Australia. For example: Cape Mentelle hosts Cabernet Sauvignon, Cullen has Chardonnay, Peel Estate is Shiraz and Frankland Estate explores Riesling. In each case, a specific vintage is tasted with renowned wines selected from around the globe.

The annual Benchmark Tasting at Faber Vineyard is an opportunity to try 12 (in this case 14) of Australia’s most highly rated Shiraz in a blind tasting.

Hosted by John and Jane Griffiths, the tasting differs from the others mentioned in one important way: all the wines are from Australia. This is an opportunity to put Faber’s Reserve Shiraz up against some of Australia’s best wines.

As a winemaker, it must be a nerve-racking experience to have your own wine in this type of event. Knowing that your wine deserves to be there, but at the same time, worrying about what people will think. However, there was no sign of nerves as John presided over proceedings.

To cap off a spectacular day, we were treated to a delicious home-cooked meal from Jane, which was served between the brackets of wines. This was all washed down with some of Faber’s finest wines.

I would suggest getting onto their mailing list now, so that you can be a part of this great event next year.

The Wines

In a tasting like this, there are no bad wines, just varying levels of greatness. The advantage of tasting these blind (and not knowing the line-up of wines ) is that the wines have to stand on their own, without the label to support it.

Bracket One was uniformly brilliant, with all wines worthy of a gold medal. Support from the audience was equally spread across the wines from Torbreck, Jamsheed and Standish. For me, The Standish was just a whisker ahead of the rest, with the Dalwhinnie a lovely cool climate counterpoint.

Bracket two was, if possible, even stronger than the 1st, with all wines getting a gold medal on my scoring sheet. The two wines that garnered the most support from the room were the Faber and Henschke. For me, perhaps the Henschke was a whisper ahead, but the Faber stood out as the best drinking wine in the bracket.

Wendouree and Wild Duck Creek were both fantastic wines, but are made in a style that demands years in the cellar, with the Giacinda somewhere in-between.

The final bracket did not disappoint. There was one wine however, that had almost universal support as the favourite wine for the bracket – the MollyDooker. A spectacular wine that was great drinking. At 16% alcohol, no one in the room found this the slightest bit warm!

In this format of tasting, wines from cooler regions and those that are made expressly to age often struggle. I would be happy to recommend almost all of these wines. It is just a matter of choosing a style you prefer and going from there.

The two best drinking wines for the tasting were the Faber and the Mollydooker. Not surprisingly, they were quite similar in style.

Bracket One

Bleasdale – Shiraz – The Powder Monkey – 2012. The colour here was a touch lighter than some in this bracket. Beautiful, perfumed fruit on the nose, with an undercurrent of plum and dusty, cedary oak. The palate is alive and vibrant, though the taut fruit is initially restrained. With air, this really builds, the palate silky and near seamless, with souring acidity to close. Very long finish. (RRP $65)

Dalwhinnie – Shiraz – Moonambel – 2012. Quite closed, with sour cherry characters to the fore. Opens to show pretty fruit, licorice, spice and wonderful elegance. The fruit on the palate is refined and silky, with supple oak adding texture rather than overt flavour. Very long, the finish is near seamless. Very elegant . (RRP $60).

Torbreck – Shiraz – The Struie – 2012. Opens with almost tobacco like notes over dense fruit and earthy, aniseed aromas. With air, this gets really interesting, with plum and tar notes. The palate is a textural treat, with plum and cherry fruit over spice and minerals. With time in the glass, this really builds, showing lovely sweet fruit and almost Rhone-like characters. A complete wine. (RRP $55).

Jamsheed – Syrah – 2012. Super fragrant, with masses of lovely ripe fruit, giving way to menthol and eucalypt notes. On the palate, cooler climate fruit shines, with cherry, red and blueberries. Spicy oak and a degree of minerality round out the plate, but the tannins shut down the finish on the close. An excellent wine that will age well. (RRP $55).

Standish – Shiraz – The Standish– 2012. The colour here is almost purple. A powerful, opulent wine, with sweet fruit over tobacco, cedar, plum and spice. The palate is dense and textured, with plum, chocolate, red berries, spice and coffee. Texturing tannins and oak fill out the finish. (RRP $95).

Bracket Two

Wild Duck Creek – Shiraz – Springflat – 2012. Almost Cabernet-like, with blackcurrant fruit over menthol notes. The palate is refined, balanced and elegant, the fruit building with air. Almost delicate, the spice and minerality give way to superb textural components, with the drying tannins building on the close. A superb wine that will benefit from years in the cellar. (RRP $55).

Faber – Shiraz – Reserve – 2012. The colour is almost purple here, and is very dense. Lovely red fruits to the fore, with spicy oak notes adding interest. The palate is textured and dense, with rich fruit and supple spice notes. The fruit gets quite chocolaty, with vanillin oak adding depth. A crowd favourite, but ideally deserves years in the cellar to reach its peak. Great stuff. (RRP $70).

Henschke – Shiraz – Mount Edelstone – 2012. Menthol, graphite, spice, plum, redcurrant and wonderful savoury notes are part of the complex amalgam of aromas found in this wine. Whilst the palate is initially quite closed, the elegant fruit, balance and supple texture build with air. Beneath the gentle veneer, there is a core of powerful, yet silky fruit. A superb wine of great presence that will reward many years in the cellar. (RRP $140).

Wendouree – Shiraz – 2012. Perhaps the most closed of all the wines. There are lovely, almost delicate floral fruit notes on the nose, but these needed to be coaxed from the glass. There is undeniable power to the compelling fruit, with depth, structure and texture. The prodigious (though very fine) tannins and complex oak guarantee a very long life. Will be great. (RRP $50).

Giaconda – Shiraz – Warners Vineyard – 2012. A pretty colour here. There is undeniable power to the fruit, yet this also has floral red and black fruit characters. The palate has bright, supple fruit with savoury vanillin oak highlights. There are spicy notes and the texture is oh so fine. The finish is very long, with spice and a touch of toasty oak coming through. A little disjointed now, but will settle in the bottle. (RRP $85).

Bracket Three

Noon – Shiraz – Reserve – 2012. Quality fruit and oak a highlight here, though this is relatively closed and tight now. Plum and spice notes, with a hint of resin from the oak. The palate is quite extracted, with licorice and spice over chewy, textural notes. This gives way to pepper and herbs, with an almost saline tang. That said, the balance is excellent and there is great length! (RRP $105).

Hentley Farm – Shiraz – The Beast – 2012. The colour here is impenetrable. Fresh, bright fruit, with cherry and a touch of mocha. The palate is relatively tight and subdued, with the oak expertly matched to the fruit. The length and texture are a highlight, with souring acidity and savoury, drying tannins driving the finish. Needs time, but is a wine full of personality. (RRP $80).

Mollydooker – Shiraz – Carnival Of Love – 2012. Opens with plum, spice and licorice from the ripe fruit. A beautifully made wine that is textural and long, yet refined and balanced. The finish is virtually seamless. The palate is rich and viscous, yet remains balanced and precise. The fine tannins are silky and refined, adding to a fantastic mouth-feel. A complete wine that is an absolute joy to drink. Do not be put off by the numbers (16% alcohol and 4gm/L residual sugar), this provides immense pleasure. (RRP $85).

Spinifex – Shiraz – La Maline – 2012. After the opulence of the Mollydooker, this wine struggled a bit. A savoury wine that is almost Rhone-like in its structure. Plum, prune, tar and tobacco all present on the nose. The fruit is overlaid on a brine-like, almost iodine tang, with drying tannins to close. An impressive wine, albeit in a different style. (RRP $65).

Bargain Winter Reds – May 2015

17th May 2015

As the cold weather approaches, my thoughts turn to hearty casseroles, fragrant curries and spaghetti in all its forms. There is nothing better to wash down a delicious midweek meal than a good bottle of red that will not break the bank.

Whilst there are numerous wines that fit this bill, the wines recommended below stand out as they are affordable AND delicious.


La Vieille Ferme – Rhone Blend – Ventoux – 2013 (17.5+). A finer, more restrained style, with savoury characters over currants, plum and floral berry notes. There is a lick of aniseed to close. Fine tannins frame the fruit nicely, with little in the way of oak to get in the way. Excellent balance and texture, with souring acidity adding to the long finish. Succulent, easy drinking, and great value! Made by the Perrin family. (RRP $18).

Shingleback – Shiraz – Vin Vale – 2013 (17.3). Plush and succulent fruit on the nose. Not dense or pretentious: a delicious quaff. The palate is soft, supple and has decent tannin structure to keep the fruit in check. Exclusive to 1st Choice and Liquorland (RRP $15).

Whiz Bang – Shiraz – 2014 (17). Aromas of chocolate and spice, with hints of fruitcake. Licorice- infused fruit on the palate, with decent texture. Not overly concentrated, but mouth-filling and a joy to drink. (RRP $16).

De Bortoli – Sangiovese – Bella Riva – 2012 (17). Savoury fruit on the nose, with blueberry and spice notes. The palate is defined by the acid/tannin structure, which confers length and drive. Only mid weight, but a good drink

A P Birks – Wendouree – 2011 and 2012 Vintage Review

27th November 2014

Reviewed by Barry Weinman

Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to taste some of the world’s great wines. Interestingly though, the opportunity to try all of the red wines from Wendouree from two consecutive vintages proved to be one of the most memorable events that I have ever attended.

Wendouree is one of the world’s true cult wines. This reputation is enhanced by the Brady’s noble aim of keeping the wine accessible to their loyal mailing list customers. Rather than sell to the trade and allow profiteering/trading in their wines, they are only available via the mailing list. Whilst not cheap at $45 – $50 per bottle, they become real value when the quality is factored in.

Whilst the winery is perhaps most famous for its Shiraz and Shiraz blends, the Cabernet should not be underestimates.

The Cabernet generally needs more time to show its best. This was, perhaps, best illustrated by the 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz that we had with dinner. With 15 years in the bottle, the Cabernet was really hitting its straps and was a delight to drink. Whilst both wines were magnificent, I would possibly put the Cabernet slightly ahead of the Shiraz. Coming from a very good cellar, these wines were in pristine condition and are only just approaching their best (and will hold for many more years).

The Shiraz-based wines are just as age-worthy, however they are generally more approachable now. This proved to be the case with the wines reviewed here.

Regarding the two vintages, 2011 was considered to be a challenging year. This resulted in lighter, more feminine wines. Still age-worthy, but not as dense as the best years.

2012 was universally applauded in South Australia and this was reflected in the wines here. These wines are truly great, and are at least the equal to the top wines from Penfolds, Henschke, Torbrek etc. There was more of the classic Clare Valley mintiness and remarkable poise.

Most remarkable of all was the alcohol content of the wines, with most being between 13.2% and 13.8%. This is in stark contrast to many of the wines produced in Australia that sit at 14.5%+. Here are wines of tremendous power, yet they show elegance, balance and restraint.

The tasting proved to be a unique opportunity to try some spectacular wines.


A P Birks – Wendouree – Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec – 2011 (17.5). Seductive and pretty nose, with violet-like fruit characters reminiscent of fine Margeaux. The palate is relatively light and elegant, with mulberry and spice over a touch of minerality. The tannins and acid cut through on the finish ensuring longevity. A pretty wine.

A P Birks – Wendouree – Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec – 2012 (18). Much greater density than the 2011 on the nose. Whilst this is closed, the potential is obvious. On the palate this is richer and denser, but nowhere near as accessible. The trademark tannins are there, but they sit much more comfortably behind the fruit. The fruit here is outstanding, with depth and density, yet the silky tannins do not hamper the mouth-feel. Clare Valley mintyness is more clearly expressed here.

A P Birks – Wendouree – Malbec – 2011 (17.9). A lovely wine that is fine, elegant, balanced and lithe. Thepretty, perfumed fruit coats the mouth, with the tannins and acid adding life. The tannins are extraordinarily fine and the oak is not apparent. This wine builds power and depth with air. It closes with a touch of forest floor characters and the tannins are almost chewy. This is particularly food friendly.

A P Birks – Wendouree – Malbec – 2012 (18.5). Again, there is pretty, fragrant fruit on the nose that is quite lovely, but the fruit weight is more apparent. Tending to dark fruits with plum, complex spice and earthy highlights. The structure on the palate stands out for the firm tannins which, whilst extraordinarily fine, coat the tongue and close down the fruit. Quite supple, yet the power really builds on the finish and the length is a standout. Even better the next day!

A P Birks – Wendouree – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2011 (18+). Fine, elegant fruit characters that, like the Cabernet/Malbec, tend towards violet. This continues on the palate with fresh red fruits and a touch of menthol, sitting over silky, fine tannins. The elegance and length here are standouts, making this a lovely drink now. Superb effort!

A P Birks – Wendouree – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012 (18.7+). Closed, tight and dense, this really just hints at potential at present. The palate is savoury, whilst the fine tannins are plentiful. Outstanding, this has unbelievable depth, yet this is still elegant and balanced. With air, this really came to life, with classic mint, chocolate, and blackcurrant. The acid ensures longevity.

A P Birks – Wendourre – Shiraz/Malbec – 2012 (18.5). This has a beautiful nose redolent of fresh red berries; think fragrant mulberry. The palate is elegant, refined, long and silky, with amazing length and balance. Dusty, chewy tannins hide amongst the awesome fruit. A joy to drink, but sure to age gracefully for many years.

A P Birks – Wendouree – Shiraz/Mataro – 2011 (18). Lighter colour, with less density. On the nose, this shows plum and spice aromas. The palate is elegant, yet there is depth and latent power. The fine tannins are a treat. Whilst this is quite floral, the savoury peppery fruit is a highlight. Balance a feature!

A P Birks – Wendouree – Shiraz/Mataro – 2012 (18.8). Depth and obvious power on the nose, yet the intense fruit is still accessible. The palate is a highlight, with peppery fruit over earthy, forest floor highlights. This wine has the proverbial peacock’s tail effect, with the flavours and texture fanning out across the palate, with near seamless palate transition. A brilliant wine, with stunning balance.

A P Birks – Wendouree – Shiraz – 2011 (18.3). The most highly regarded of the Wendouree reds, and with this wine it is easy to see why. The fruit is succulent and ripe, yet elegant and balanced. The palate is seamless, with the tannins playing second fiddle to the superb fruit. The balance is outstanding, with the acidity carrying the finish but it does need time.. The best of the 2011s.

A P Birks – Wendouree – Shiraz – 2012 (19.3). A stunning, sublime wine! This is as close to perfection as one could hope for in a red wine. On the nose, this is actually very pretty, with floral red fruits. It is on the palate where the quality is truly expressed. Precise, perfectly ripe fruit slowly gives way to fine tannins, which add a savoury lift. The fruit is pretty, yet serious and closed, the length outstanding. The flavours keep evolving for the longest time. Remarkable for the drinkability, this is the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. Is this Australia’s greatest red wine???

Shiraz – New Release

Reviewed: 30th March 2014

Whilst I have no direct control over the wines that are submitted to the panel for tasting, the wines on display for this tasting were very impressive in general.  The wines came from some well known labels, as well as several that are new to me.


Henschke – Shiraz – Mount Edelstone – 2009 (18.5).  The silky elegance and balance came as a surprise here after some of the more robust wines tasted.  This is elegant, refined, long, supple and deliciously seamless.  Whilst everything is in place to age, this is great now thanks to the delicate fruit and fine tannin/oak balance.  A superior wine that will take 15 years + in the cellar.

Yalumba – Shiraz – Octavius – 2008 (18.5).  Lovely mint and herbal notes initially here.  There is, however, a core of dense, powerful fruit that starts to show with air.  The palate is silky and fine yet, again, the latent power is palpable.  The fruit flavours tend to red berries.  Chewy tannins and oak close down the fruit, but these are not intrusive or out of balance.  Develops licorice and spice with air.  Whilst the oak treatment is evident, it is in no way intrusive, sitting nicely with the high quality fruit.  Deserves its reputation. (RRP $110).

The Yard – Shiraz – Justin Vineyard – 2012. (18).  Great fruit and winemaking, yet the acid here is just a little fresh initially.  Opens to show plum and blackberry flavours with spice and hints of oak.  Very long and textured, this is a wine for the patient.  The next day, this was even better with delicious dark fruits that coat the tongue melding with very fine tannins on a near seamless finish.  (RRP $35).

Cross Stitch – Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012 (18).  I like this a lot.  Ripe red fruit with excellent balance.  The palate is silky and fine, with the gentle tannins complementing the fruit perfectly.  Really long, this is an elegant wine of considerable charm.  Good now or in five years.  (The points here are for the sheer drinkability). (RRP $22).

Willoughby Park – Shiraz – 2010 (17.9).  A dense wine full of licorice, spice and black pepper.  The finish is almost a touch awkward now, but is long and balanced.  Quality oak and fine tannins marry well with the fruit on the finish.  Opens to show sweet, ripe fruit that is seductive and delicious, with a lovely finish.  From the Great Southern. (RRP $22).

Izway – Shiraz – Rob & Les – 2012 (17.8).  This is a cracker of a wine, with a delicious mouthful of ripe plum fruit, yet with just enough structure to make the balance spot on.  This is juicy, ripe and totally delicious.  Not as “serious” as some here, but a great drink right now.  (RRP $30).

Sandalford – Shiraz – Estate Reserve – 2011 (17.8).  Closed, dense and powerful, this wine stands out for its quality fruit and winemaking.  Whilst it has lovely ripe fruit, it is refined, and initially quite subdued.  On the palate, the fine tannins shut down the finish though the length and texture are excellent.  With plenty of air, the lovely spicy fruit came to the fore.  A wine for the future.

Shingleback – Shiraz – The Davey Estate – 2011 (17.5 – 18).  Dense, taut and somewhat unyielding.  Hints of spice (clove and star anise).  The palate is firm, with fresh acidity, yet there are silky/refined tannins and oak and plenty of fine, white pepper to close.  This is an elegant, yet powerful wine that has potential.  Reflects the year with restrained, cooler climate fruit characters.  (RRP $23).

Crooked Brook – Shiraz – 2011 (17.5).  Ripe plum-like characters initially, yet with a core of elegant red fruits.  The palate has lovely mouth-feel and weight, and there is a lick of licorice that runs to the back of the palate.  Long and juicy, with fine tannins that frame the fruit.  Excellent drinking.

Rosemount – Shiraz – Diamond Label – 2012 (17.3).  Silky, dense, ripe and balanced.  This has souring plum-like fruit, with cedar and spicy notes.  The finish is plump and textured, with a touch of chocolate and coffee to close.  Not that dense or complicated, but a good drink.