Australian Shiraz: More Bang Per Buck

By Robert Parker

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In France and in California, they call it syrah. Down Under, the same grape and the wine made from it are known as shiraz, with the "a" pronounced as in "hat." (The second syllable is "ahs" in the U.S.) However you pronounce it, shiraz thrives under Australia's searing sun, where it is the most widely cultivated grape and produces its finest wines. As with most Aussie wines, you don't have to spend a lot to get a great pour.

Woop Woop 2004 Shiraz

89 points. This 100% shiraz from South Australia sees some oak, a small amount of which is new wood. (New barrels impart more flavor than those that have been used before.) Notes of flowers, black currants, licorice, and road tar are discernible, but the emphasis is on oodles of up-front fruit, an opulent attack, sweet tannin, and a lush, heady mid-palate and finish. This is the type of everyday red that will be exceptionally popular. Enjoy it over the next two to three years. $11

Hill of Content 2003 Shiraz

89 points. It has smoke, licorice, blackberry as well as black currant characteristics, enticing texture, and an opulent, long, heady finish. Consume over the next three to four years. $14

Shoofly 2004 Shiraz

88 points. Shoofly's fruit-driven shiraz reveals a deep ruby/purple color, medium-to-full body, abundant amounts of blackberry and cassis fruit, and hints of licorice, spice, and earth. Enjoy this attractive red over the next few years. $14

Marquis Philips 2004 Shiraz

90 points. Displaying blackberry, tar, pepper, and toasty oak characteristics in its spicy, rich, deep, voluptuous personality, this wine will drink well for one to three years. $15

Rolf Binder Wines 2003 Shiraz Hales

89 points. With 5% cabernet sauvignon blended in, this unfiltered cuvée offers a dense ruby/purple color along with a big, sweet nose of creamy vanillin, blackberries, coconut, and pepper. Consume this chewy, fleshy, up-front shiraz over the next two to three years. $15

Winner's Tank 2004 Shiraz

91 points. This shiraz is a new venture between Kaesler Vineyard's winemaker, Reid Bosward, and the owners of Winner's Tank, David and Kathy Knight. Given minimal aging in French oak, it offers an opaque purple color as well as exuberant, concentrated blackberry and cassis aromas revealing a touch of acacia flowers. It's full-bodied, opulently textured, and loaded. I served this cuvée blind to guests who were convinced it was a $50 bottle of wine. Drink this big, black, shiraz baby over the next two to three years to take advantage of its exuberant fruit. $15

Charles Cimicky 2004 Shiraz Trumps

90 points. This outstanding 100% shiraz aged in old wood exhibits a dark ruby/purple hue along with a forceful, flamboyant nose of road tar, blackberry and cassis fruit, licorice, and pepper. Opulent, savory, and expansive, it will provide thrilling drinking over the next two to three years. $18

Torbreck 2004 Woodcutters Shiraz

91 points. Aged completely in old wood, it offers pure blackberry liqueur notes intermixed with hints of charcoal, tar, and pepper. This soft, velvety textured, opulent, fruit-filled shiraz is amazingly complex for its price. It is a lusty, appealing, hedonist's dream to consume over the next four to five years. $20

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

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