2012 Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz

Heritage on a week night budget. Still fresh as the air hits, a little age seems to have rounded the fruit and softened the bones. Complete sweet spice box, lots of very ripe fat plums, dark berries, tar and a regional hit of mineral water salinity. Tannin ripe and soft. It’s just amazing how such broad acre, economy of scale production produces something so authentic and tasty for so little cost. It’s been a long time since the 1986 vintage that first won my heart.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 584 gms of glass. $15 Dan’s cellar special.

91 points.

2010 Les Vins de Vienne Saint Joseph L’Arzelle

Three really good wine producers of the northern Rhône, Cuilleron, Villard and Gaillard got together for this label and produced some great value. Briefly imported into Australia by Dan Murphy’s, sadly no more. Seems to have enjoyed its slumber in bottle, opens with clean, almost new worldly so, smoky red fruits, sort of those raspberry, loganberry or blackberry flavours all mixed up. There’s also brown spices, pepper, a bit of the old charcuterie and incense. Over time a waft of violet on top. Still bright and jaunty. Just so, ripe tannin and acidity are superbly tucked in. A treat on a very cold night, cockles warmed alright.

13.5% alcohol. Fancy 50mm cork. Not sure why Dan’s stopped importing but there’s always the bargain clearance pricing. Just wish I’d bought more than one.

93 points.

2018 B minor Grampians Shiraz

So good to see more Grampians’ Shiraz made in small detailed batches by a number of smart young, well relatively so, creatives. This one looks as if all the variations of whole bunch and berries have been played. Over three days the main theme of spice, florals and bright berries kept recurring as notes of mulch, sage, regional mint and bush added colour. After a reasonable sample range, from these newer interpretations to the warmer, riper and oakier 1990s styled, there does seem to be a gloss of summer pudding fruit to these 2018 Grampians Shiraz, pretty delicious really. Interpreted here in a way that will challenge some perhaps. Only just medium bodied, driven by acidity despite a mattress of woody stem tannin, it’s definitely one for the Rhône fanciers. The reward is pristine violet perfumed raspberries and spice, the anchor those stems and damp earth bass notes. Almost discordant to some, modern harmony to others. At its most delicious on day three, that must say something.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $34.

Started 92, ended up high side of 93 points.

2004 Wendouree Shiraz

To remind myself why patience is very much a virtue while waiting for the annual mail, as in snail, purchase from my favourite Australian red wine producer, must be time to open one. Wendouree Shiraz always commands the highest price on the secondary market but its first amongst equals position is debatable, especially with the fascination of vintage variations. The cork is well behaved, letting deep flavours of brown spices, linseed oil and biscuits emerge. Lurking like a dark foreboding presence under a calm sea is a sinking depth charge of profound red fruit. This detonates splendidly after twenty four hours, spreading very spicy chunks of cherry fruit all over the mouth. The kind of ripe full but caressing tannin that only great grapes possess. Perfect firm acidity. Just as it finishes there’s a flickering glimpse of the first signs of caramel decay or maturity depending on how much you like old things. A lot in this case.

13.3% alcohol. Cork. $45 in 2006. The mail out also notes grapes from 1919 Eastern vineyard and 1893 Central vineyard.

Started about 93 points ended up the high side of 95.

2006 The Story Westgate Vineyard Shiraz

If memory serves as they used to say on Iron Chef, this was something like Rory’s second commercially released vintage. At first, dusty bottle age, a little caramel and leather. Fading blackberry, soft ripe tannin and a lick of lemony acidity that now stands at a distance. Sometimes you can leave a bottle of Aussie red a bit too long and it seems slumped with age into just an old red wine. It was a surprise then, on the second day to find it fresher, more of a blackberry crunch and the middle palate swelling with spice, tar and rich fruit. Once again proof as to the reticent glory of Grampians Shiraz. A waiting game.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. Was about $40.

90 points first day, 92 to 93 on the second.

2018 Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Shiraz

A producer with a long history for this drinker, my first vintage when there was just one Langi Shiraz bottling was 1986. Only one change of ownership since then puts it firmly in the heritage category. Such is the warming of the climate that an alcohol ripeness of 14.5% would have been unthinkable for this traditionally cool vineyard in the eighties. This release is all about a delicious cushion of evenly ripe summer pudding fruit backed up by what seems to be succulent natural acidity and some woody stem tannin. The details are some typical Langi pepper and aniseed spice. A warm and generous version of a regular buy. Maybe most attractive as a youngster.

14.5%. Screw cap. $25 member’s special at Woolies ethanol barn.

92 points.

2014 Ravensworth Shiraz Viognier

Ravensworth sounds like a house name from Hogworts perhaps? There’s certainly something magical in the way they turn grapes into wine. This opened with bottle aged dustiness that gave way to lots of smoke and the dry herbs of whole bunch. As oxygen did its job, a north end of the Rhône violet and new leather perfume emerged, followed eventually by the precision ripeness of dark raspberry, cherries and aniseed. It took a while. Initial thoughts were it may be just too savoury. Quietly but confidently an even build through the mouth glides on resolved tannin and acidity. A little tickle of oak spice is tucked in nicely. All the tweaks of modern Australian Shiraz making, this time done with aplomb. Worth decanting, especially should you be entertaining vegetarian friends, lest they sight the label.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. Maybe $30 to $35 on release?

93 points.

2019 Vinatero Grampians Shiraz

Looking through Aldi’s less than enormous wine selection, it was a pleasant surprise to see those beloved words, Grampians and Shiraz. Despite nearly causing an avalanche in those precarious gravity driven shelf dispensers. The wine’s a tasty surprise too. Bright red fruit, lots of stalky herbs add a green overlay, pepper, spice and earth. The label says a portion of whole bunches were used in the making and they do make their presence known in the green flavours carried along on some firm acidity together with stern gummy tannin. Unless somebody’s invented a mechanical harvester that can snip bunches instead of rattling grapes, then hand picked bunches are quite a cost input for the price. Despite the herby flavours stalking the initial taste, there’s a typical Grampians flare of ripe berry and cherry fruit that builds as the wine lingers around the mouth. Maybe a bit stern and shrubby for some at the moment but it did go well over two days. Real Grampians character for not much, yes please.

13% alcohol and better for it. Screwcap. $12.99.

90 points.

2018 Wynns Coonawarra Shiraz

Something like the thirty third vintage of this to have ended up in my glass and making me feel quite vintage too. Opens dark and rich, certainly warmer and more upfront than the 2017, with road dusted blackberries and spiced plum with a nudge of noticeable mocha vanilla. It does however avoid simple fruit sweetness with some earthy, saline Coonawarra dirt. Nice fruit tannin and the acidity isn’t ungainly unlike some large production Australian Shiraz. Enough oomph over a couple of days to suggest a rest somewhere quiet, cool and dark won’t do any harm. Good old Wynns.

13.6% alcohol. Screwcap. $10.40! Charitable Woolies pricing a favour to the wine budget if not the brand so much.

90 points plus a bit for old time’s sake.

2013 Jamsheed Great Western Garden Gully Syrah

Yet another Great Western Shiraz, this time from the venerable Garden Gully vineyard planted in the late 19th century. Made by a fluent Japanese speaking, literary polymath, just in case you were wondering about the lucky kitty in the photo. Wine making influenced by the Beaujolais Gang of Four, no additions other than a pinch of sulphur with plenty of whole bunches. There’s a good punch of Grampians bush scents, blackberries, plums, tarry earth, spices and that dark, sort of ironstone grunt of ancient soils. It’s really difficult to describe a sense of something that bypasses the thought process and hits on what seems a primeval stirring. A bit silly and fanciful but smell is a curiously evocative sense to say the least? The stems lend a brown woody savour and push the soft acidity into the tannins to counterweight the sweet fruit ripeness. A seriously deep and meaningful capture of place and season. A heartfelt hope that Jamsheed’s new inner suburban winery and bar survive the coming months. See you there for a glass of real wine soon!

14.5% alcohol. Diam. About $45 on release.

95 points. Oishi des.