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Big, Bargain Australian Wines

Brash, bold, but reasonably priced, these Australian fruit bombs might be unsubtle but millions of consumers around the world drink them up

Australia is the home of the so-called fruit bomb—decadently fruity, bold, exuberant, in-your-face wines that are hard to ignore. Elitist wine geeks hate them (too much flavor), but most consumers love them. Here are some of the great values from Down Under.

88 points

2007 Penfolds Koonunga Hills Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon

Penfolds' 2007 blend of 75% shiraz and 25% cabernet sauvignon from Koonunga Hills was aged for eight months in seasoned oak. Purple-colored, it has an expansive perfume of blue and black fruits. On the palate it is supple-textured, ripe, and layered. This surprisingly elegant wine will evolve for several years and provide pleasure through 2017. $12

90 points

2005 Aramis Shiraz

The 2005 shiraz from Aramis is purple-colored with a fragrant bouquet of smoke, cedar, game, and blueberry. This leads to a full-bodied wine with a plush texture, layered black fruits, and enough structure for two to three years of development in the bottle. Drink it through 2020. $22

90 points

2006 Black Chook Shiraz-Viognier

Black Chook's 2006 dark-ruby-colored shiraz-viognier is a crowd pleaser. Aromatically the nose receives uplift from the 6% viognier component. Aromas of smoke, plum, and blueberry are enticing and lead to a full-bodied wine with a smooth texture, ripe flavors with depth, and a long finish. This hedonistic effort can be enjoyed now but will blossom with another year or two of bottle age. $18

90 points

2006 Fetish Playmates

Fetish is a joint venture between Joshua Tree Imports and noted winemaker Rolf Binder. The 2006 Playmates is composed of 92% shiraz, 5% mataro, and 3% grenache. Opaque purple-colored, it exhibits aromas of toasty oak, leather, lavender, and blueberry. This leads to a medium- to full-bodied wine with plenty of ripe fruit, excellent depth and concentration, soft tannins, and a long finish. It will evolve for three to four years but can be enjoyed now. $22

90 points

2006 Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Shiraz

Jim Barry's 2006 The Lodge Hill Shiraz was aged for 11 months in seasoned French and American oak. Purple-colored, it has a fragrant nose that reveals violets, mineral, spice box, and a hint of eucalyptus. This is followed by a full-bodied wine with lots of savory fruit, plenty of spice notes, good depth, and a lengthy finish. Give it a year or two to evolve and drink it from 2010 to 2018. $20

90 points

2006 Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz

This 2006 shiraz is purple-colored with aromas of black pepper, spice box, blueberry, and blackberry. Savory and ripe on the palate with layers of flavor, this nicely balanced wine will drink well for four to six years. $15

90 points

2006 Thorn-Clarke Shiraz Terra Barossa

Opaque purple, Thorn-Clarke's 2006 Shiraz Terra Barossa has an enticing spicy perfume of blueberry and blackberry that jumps from the glass. Plush and ripe, it tastes like shiraz selling for three times the price. It has outstanding depth and length and, best of all, it can be enjoyed now. $14

90+ points

2006 d'Arenberg The Footbolt Shiraz

The d'Arenberg portfolio is loaded with values. The winery works with more than 140 growers to fashion their superb blends. Their 2006 The Footbolt Shiraz (which contains a bit of grenache) offers fragrant aromas of wood smoke, game, and blueberry. Layered and balanced, it will evolve for several years and drink well through 2017. $19

91 points

2007 Cat Amongst the Pigeons Shiraz

Opaque purple-colored, this 2007 shiraz has an enticing perfume of spice box, blue fruits, and smoked meat. This leads to a savory, ripe, full-flavored wine with layered fruit, excellent balance, and a lengthy close. Drink it over the next four years. $17

91+ points

2006 Rolf Binder Wines Shiraz-Grenache Halliwell

Rolf Binder's 2006 Shiraz-Grenache Halliwell (composed of 70% shiraz and 30% grenache) offers scintillating scents of truffle, earth, blueberry, black cherry, and kirsch liqueur. Layered and full-flavored, with excellent depth and concentration, it has enough structure to evolve for several years. It should drink well through 2016. $22

92 points

2006 Pillar Box Shiraz Reserve

Pillar Box has a powerful pedigree: fruit sourced from Henry's Drive and winemaking consultation from the renowned Chris Ringland. The grapes for the 2006 Shiraz Reserve were selected from the best shiraz parcels used to make Pillar Box Red. They were aged in new oak, 75% French and 25% American. Opaque purple-colored, it offers up a classy bouquet of smoke, vanilla, saddle leather, bacon, and blueberry. This leads to a full-bodied, plush, seamless wine with no hard edges to its lengthy finish. It has the stuffing to evolve for two to three years, but I can think of no reason for delaying gratification. It is a great value. $19

94 points

2006 Mollydooker Shiraz The Boxer

Mollydooker's 2006 Shiraz The Boxer is opaque purple. The compelling nose exhibits aromas of scorched earth, smoke, grilled bacon, blueberry compote, and blackberry liqueur. Full-bodied, thick, and rich, this layered shiraz is velvety textured and opulent. The finish lasts for nearly a minute. A sensational value, it can be enjoyed now but will evolve for several years. $20

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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