Some merchants report that sales of Australian wines are down. Australian Shiraz made Alice Feiring’s top 10 overrated wines in a recent article she did for Men’s Style. Two or three years ago Australian Shiraz was probably neck and neck with California Cabernet in terms of demand — in part because it was a better value — but people also liked the big, approachable, forward, extracted style.
As Alice noted:
Don’t let anyone tell you Shiraz is just Syrah by another name. While Syrah from the Northern Rhône is all masculinity and grace, its Aussie cousin only thinks it is. In reality? Too often—especially among purported “values”—the wine is overoaked, overalcoholic, and overly reminiscent of Robitussin. Even worse, these wines are often so soulless (this despite the cute critters invariably found on labels) they could be hydroponic.
She does have a point — and I for one have lost my lust for the Aussie juice. For me the main issues are elevated alcohol levels, the hints of Robitussin and lack of complexity of some of the wines. At the same time, I think we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater if we chose to simply dismiss Aussie Shiraz. Also, I think a lot of the items that Alice identifies about Aussie Shiraz are trends that are present in other regions and varietals — but just a bit more amplified with Australian Shiraz. I recently had a bottle of wine from Napa that was not an inexpensive wine — to me it was very hot and overalcoholic, concentrated and one dimensional. I would not have been surprised if I someone had told me it was from Australia. So maybe we should be pointing to this style of winemaking rather than a country or a varietal — and hopefully that style will be dialed back a bit.
Anyway, this weekend I opened a bottle of Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz. It is a very good wine and an even better value — lots of dark cherry, cassis, graphite, charcoal with some pepper and mineral notes.
I find the conflicting opinions between Parker and the Spectator to be interesting. You could certainly make the case that this might not be a 92 point wine, but I certainly think it clearly merits more than 87 points — probably 90 points in my book.
This and the Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz probably top my list of Aussie Shiraz at about $15 a bottle. Recommended.
Rich and powerful in both fruit flavour and palate persistence the ‘Killerman’s Run’ Shiraz offers outstanding value to those seeking a wine that will accompany a range of meats and fine foods. Small batches of Shiraz were selected from a range of premium South Australian vineyards then vinified by traditional winemaking methods and matured for up to two years in small French and American oak casks before careful blending and bottling unfiltered.
Bright, brick red in color with crimson tints. Ripe, bold and lifted Shiraz flavors predominate the nose, rich plum fruits, coffee and chocolate supported by the French and American oak. Made to showcase the unique flavours of Shiraz, the palate tends to be fruit driven but balanced and lengthened by the older oak flavours. A sweet mid palate, soft tannins and warmth of character have created a wine with both power and finesse. Cellaring potential of at least 6 – 8 years.
The Wine Advocate
The 2005 Shiraz Killerman’s Run, which had just been bottled, is unbelievably good. It possesses a deep ruby/purple color, terrific blackberry and cassis fruit, hints of charcoal, licorice, and earth, and an opulent, voluptuous personality. Enjoy this super-sexy Shiraz over the next 3-4 years. Score: 92. —Robert Parker, October 2006.
The Wine Spectator
Soft and ripe, with pretty blackberry and peppery cream flavors. Drink now through 2010. Score: 87. —Harvey Steiman, August 31, 2007.