Wine review – powerful Barossa shiraz leads trans-continental Aussie wine line up

Torbreck The Struie Shiraz 2013
Barossa and Eden Valleys, South Australia

Like a black hole sucking in stars, Torbreck “The Laird” Shiraz 2010 ($700) held 30 tasters captive, powerless to reach the other nine reds on the table. And little wonder. The Laird’s deep, dark power sucked the marrow from our bones and filled our heads with awe. But further out in the Torbreck constellation, we later found the heavenly, if not divine, Struie. Powerful shiraz from the Barossa Valley, tamed by more elegant Eden Valley fruit, gives The Struie sumptuous, earthy, savoury richness, with layers of harmonious flavours and tannins.

Angullong Fossil Hill Barbera 2013
Fossil Hill vineyard, Orange, NSW

Fossil Hill vineyard lies at the lower altitude limit of the Orange region, at around 600 metres. The site successfully ripens northern Italy’s barbera grape and the winemakers successfully capture its zesty, fruity character. They allow about a fifth of the harvest to ferment as whole berries – which means the fermentation begins anaerobically inside the berries, contributing the wine’s fruity freshness. The result is pale to medium coloured red, of medium body, with fresh fruit flavours to the fore, albeit with a savoury edge. Fairly high acidity combines with fine tannins to give a pleasantly tart finish to a distinctive style.

Mad Fish Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014
Great Southern and Margaret River, Western Australia


The Burch family’s budget brand, Mad Fish, benefits from all the care lavished on the more expensive wines sold under its Howard Park, and Marchand and Burch labels. For as little as $12.50 (at time of writing) you can enjoy the pure and distinctive taste of Western Australia’s sauvignon blanc-semillon blend. There’s nothing fancy or complex about the wine. Rather, it captures vigorous herbaceous flavours of the two varieties and throws in the plump and juicy mid palate all too often missing from these blends.

Longview Red Bucket Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Macclesfield and Kuitpo, Adelaide Hills, South Australia

Brothers Peter and Mark Saturno provide consistently good drinking with their entry-level Red Bucket wines. The red blend, from two comparatively warm sites in the Adelaide Hills, offers particularly fleshy, ripe flavours in the excellent 2013 vintage. The wine has the bright berry flavours, medium body and elegant structure, expressive of a warm site in a cool region. While shiraz gives a juicy richness to the mid palate, the tell-tale leafy notes of cabernet season the wine and its tannins provide backbone.

Oakridge Local Vineyard Series Arneis 2014
Murrummong vineyard, Yarra Valley, Victoria

Necessity became the mother of Oakridge Arneis when neighbouring winery Yarra Loch no longer wanted the fruit. For ever-inventive winemaker David Bicknell, that meant another white to fiddle with each vintage. The Piedmontese variety tends to be neutral. It therefore challenges winemakers to find a balance between winemaking tricks that add character, or going too far and overwhelming the wine. In the 2014, Bicknell produced a wine of striking melon and citrus aromas and a dry palate of great vitality and interest. It’s available only at

Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Wynns vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia
The latest Wynns Black Label (due for release 5 August) reflects one of Australia’s longest running, most effective wine-improvement programs. Early this century Wynns winemaker, Sue Hodder, with viticulturist Allen Jenkins, began restructuring Wynns’ massive vineyard holdings and, at the same time, deconstructing (then reconstructing) winemaking processes. A deep understanding of individual vineyard plots has enabled harvesting of multiple, comparatively small grape batches progressively at proper ripeness. A new winery built to handle multiple batches gave Hodder precise control over quality and style. We now see the results in all its varietal purity, elegance and strength in this, Black Label’s sixtieth vintage.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 21 and 22 July 2015 in and the Canberra Times