Wine review – top shiraz from six Aussie regions

Domaine Chandon Shiraz 2013
Yarra Valley, Victoria
Today’s reviews cover six faces of shiraz, Australia’s great red specialty. Domaine Chandon carries the cool-climate banner with a beautifully aromatic, medium bodied style. Winemaker Dan Buckle writes, “In 2013 we made the decision to move our shiraz production from Heathcote to the Yarra Valley”. In a tweet, he added, “We have some xlnt Yarra vineyards at our doorstep. Literally”. The regional change means a shift from Heathcote’s power and savour, to a spicier, highly aromatic Yarra style – a supple, smooth, richly flavoured wine that sits lightly on the palate and drinks beautifully right now.

Majella Shiraz 2013
Majella vineyard, Coonawarra, South Australia

Majella shiraz caught our attention from the very first vintage, 1991 – the year the grape-growing Lynn family began its gradual, and now complete, transition to winemaker. Their shiraz, though elegant and fine boned in the Coonawarra style, nevertheless requires cellaring to bring out its best, perhaps even more so in the powerful 2013 vintage. Behind the light, vivid, limpid colour lie deep, sweet berry fruit flavours, tightly bound up in fine but assertive fruit and oak tannins. The wine has its charms now, but from past experience we can expect the delicate and lovely fruit to flourish with a decade or so of cellaring.

Sevenhill Inigo Shiraz 2013
Sevenhill vineyards, Clare Valley, South Australia


Winemaker Liz Heidenrech says the 2013 Clare vintage arrived early, but disease free and characterised by small intensely flavoured berries. Heidenrech fermented the shiraz from the estate’s very old vines in open slate fermenters, mined from nearby Mintaro. Although the wine weighs in at 15.2 per cent alcohol, it remains graceful and well balanced, with seductive, juicy, deep, ripe, vibrant fruit flavours – seasoned with varietal spice and a hint of oak-derived vanilla. Soft, round tannins meld smoothly with the fruit flavours, making a big, bold wine immediately approachable.

Torbreck Woodcutters Shiraz 2013
Barossa Valley, South Australia

The big and beautiful Barossa Valley produces big and varied shiraz styles, characterised by full, ripe flavours and tender tannins. For its entry-level shiraz, Torbreck sources grapes from a number of distinct Barossa sub-regions: Marananga, Greenock, Ebenezer, Gomersal, Moppa, Lyndoch and Kalimna. It’s a hearty, 15-per-cent-alcohol style, combining ripe, dark-cherry-like fruit flavours with a chewy, satisfying lode of soft, savoury tannin.

Forester Estate Shiraz 2012
Margaret River, Western Australia

Forester Estate provides a full-bodied expression of Margaret River shiraz, with a vivid purple hue – perhaps attributable to the inclusion of alicante bouschet in the blend. Deeply coloured alicante bouschet, a cross of petit bouschet and grenache, was historically used to add colour to lighter red wines. Whatever its contribution, shiraz remains the keynote in a full-flavoured red, featuring plum- and dark-cherry-like varietal flavours, a touch of black pepper, rustic tannin and brisk acidity.

Tyrrell’s Shiraz 2013
Hunter Valley, NSW

Releasing his new Hunter Valley range, Bruce Tyrrell asked how important region is when Australians make wine-buying decisions. He said, “A study by Wine Intelligence found that 55 per cent of Australian wine drinkers choose region to be the number one influencer” when they decide what to buy. The same study pointed to the Hunter Valley, with three million visitors a year, as the number one region for awareness. Perhaps there’s a Sydney bias in the survey. But who cares as Tyrrell’s 2013 shiraz really captures the idiosyncratic Hunter style: limpid and medium bodied with sweet fruit, cut with savoury, spicy flavours, finishing dry and soft.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 30 June and 1 July 2015 in and the Canberra Times