Home Winners > Winners 2013 > NEW WORLD: Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre & Rhône Blends: Australia

Winner Details

New World: Shiraz/Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre & Rhône Blends: Australia

Perhaps less consistency than 10 years ago, but a definite movement towards cooler, more refreshing styles of Shiraz

When we started this competition in 2007, the majority of Australian Shirazes submitted were pan-regional wines, blended together from across South-East Australia. Now, just about all of the entries are from specific appellations.

Given this trend towards regionality, you’d expect the Barossa to be the dominant force, but oddly, it rarely is, and it was the same story again this year. Dandelion Vineyards picked up a place on the Gold List at £9.20, which, given the paucity of sub-£10 wines of any description in this category, constitutes serious value for money for a Gold medal winner.

But only one other Barossa wine made the initial cut, with tasters complaining that, overall, the flight was ‘dilute and angular’ and ‘lacking generosity of fruit and richness’.

These are astonishing descriptors for a region best known for producing wines as plump as Rita Ora’s lips, and suggests that attempts to move towards a less fruit-forward style are still something of a work in progress. Certainly, our tasters had no tolerance of wines that had been picked early in the interests of ‘freshness’ but overstepped the boundary and ended up being merely vegetal.

In fact, while our tasters were pleased to see wineries setting their stylistic compass towards ‘elegant’, the journey itself is clearly proving slightly problematic for the wineries – and made for a lot of uneven flights, with wines made in many different styles, not always successfully.

‘For all the successes, there were also a lot of out-of-balance wines in our flight of McLaren Vale wines, showing stewed fruit, big alcohol and obvious, clumsy acidification,’ sighed Hakkasan Group’s Christine Parkinson. ‘Given how technologically advanced the Aussies are, it’s shocking to see such basic winemaker faults in the wines.’

Nonetheless, by the latter stages of the competition, once the growlers had been weeded out, there was some very good wine to be had.

‘The best wines combined exuberant Australian character with some of the complexity and freshness at heart that allowed them to sit well with food,’ said the Marylebone Hotel’s Mark Deamer.

The Kilikanoon Oracle is a case in point, mixing ‘Aussieness’ and elegance to perfection, albeit at a high price.

‘It would meet that expectation for fruit, weight and complexity, but in a more modern way, not overpowering,’ said Studio Alto’s Neil Bruce. ‘It’s exactly what people look for from Australia.’

‘It is expensive,’ admitted Hakkasan Group’s Christine Parkinson, ‘but it’s saying a lot.’

‘There is a definite place for Australian Shiraz on the list, with customers seeking these wines out. The best here showed concentration, with bold fruit character, but also with some of the structure and greater finesse that leaned towards the Old World.’
Frédéric Jean-Yves Billet, Luton Hoo Hotel, Golf & Spa

‘It was interesting that of all the New World [Shiraz] styles, the Australian wines were the restrained ones. The old story that you can’t put these with elegant food is just wrong now. These are classy wines with real quality.’
Christine Parkinson, Hakkasan Group

‘There were many examples here of how an industry known for one specific style can turn and change character to a new style. Cool-climate Syrah is going to be a big deal. The word Syrah is not just “posh” for Shiraz.’
Gergely Barsi Szabó, Bread Street Kitchen