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Home Winners > Winners 2012 > VARIETAL CLASSICS: Australian Shiraz

Winner Details

Varietal Classics: Australian Shiraz 

Exchange rate? What exchange rate? There were some terrific wines here for the price – for gastropubs and white tablecloth restaurants alike


Here’s a weird thing. The Australian flights in the Shiraz section of the competition were generally felt to be expensive, lacking in character and, well, disappointing. Yet the Varietal Classic section – where the wines must be under £12.50 and our tasters are just looking for a wine that is as Australian as a kangaroo called Rolf Harris – received really positive feedback.

‘I thought it was a very good standard,’ said Flint Wines’ Gearoid Devaney MS. ‘Some of them weren’t particularly my style, but I could make an argument for all of them. Given any of these, I would say I was in Australia and tasting Shiraz. They’re ripe and they’re decent in terms of a wine listed at £40 doing what it says on the tin. I was pleasantly surprised.’

The price aspect was interesting. Remarkably, given the titanic strength of the Aussie dollar and the country’s general struggle this year to knock out value-for-money wines, over half of this year’s submissions were under £8. Shiraz, it seems, is still a place where Australia can ‘do’ cheap.

Indeed, the Soldier’s Block (which picked up a Critic’s Choice last year and snaffled a Food Match award for steak in 2012), had our tasters purring with pleasure. ‘It’s just a wine that does it, quality-wise, year after year,’ said Hakkasan’s group wine buyer Christine Parkinson, when discovering that this wine had shone again. ‘It’s one of the first names I put down whenever I’m putting together a new list.’

The lush, plush Heartland Shiraz attracted plenty of plaudits right through the competition, too, and was one of several wines to provoke a debate on whether mintiness in Aussie Shiraz was (a) typical or (b) desirable. Some tasters felt that consumers are increasingly looking for lighter expressions, others maintaining that the ‘dialled up to the max’ versions were still highly popular.

In the end, though, stylistic debates aside, the tasters were pleased with what they saw here. Good wines, with a very Australian feel to them and well priced. A significant improvement on last year.

‘They were big, lush and rich. There’s nothing subtle, but it’s great!’ said consultant Angela Reddin.

‘Customers will go for this style of wine. We know exactly where we are and what the grape is.’ Gearoid Devaney MS, Flint Wines

‘The oak was pretty well used. Two years ago the oak would have been banging your face in – “hello, I’m here!” It wasn’t like that.’ Foni Tsouvallas, The Folly