Knockout Reds from Australia
For those weaned on elegant European wines or some of America's more restrained offerings, Australian wines from the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale often seem too big, too rich, and too intense.
Some people love to drink these reds in their fiery, exuberant youth. But if you don't, just wait: Many of these hellions become more civilized and refined with 8 to 10 years of cellaring and can last for decades.
Kangarilla Road 2006 Shiraz/Viognier (McLaren Vale). This blend of 8% viognier and 92% shiraz was fermented and aged for 14 months in new French oak. Opaque purple in color, mouth-filling, and rich, with layered, spicy black fruit flavors—all the components are in harmony. This tantalizing wine will drink well through 2021. $25
D'Arenberg 2005 The Dead Arm Shiraz (McLaren Vale). D'Arenberg's flagship wine comes from ancient vines. Aged for 22 months in a mix of new and used French and American oak, it is opaque purple/black with an expansive perfume. Full-bodied and super-concentrated, it will benefit from three to five years of cellaring and drink well through 2025. $65
Rolf Binder Wines 2005 Shiraz Heysen (Barossa Valley). A blend of grapes from three vineyards, this cuvée is an opulent, complex, and intensely flavored wine that merits six to eight years in the cellar and will drink well through 2025. $60
Clarendon Hills 2005 Syrah Hickinbotham Vineyard (Clarendon). An opaque purple-colored wine with aromas of toasty oak, tar, licorice, bacon, blueberry, and blackberry. Muscular and large in scale, it will profit from a decade of cellaring and drink well through 2030. $110
Kaesler 2005 Shiraz Old Bastard (Barossa Valley). Sourced from a 114-year-old vineyard, this is a voluptuous, velvety-textured, layered, super-concentrated shiraz in perfect balance, with well-concealed tannins and a 60-second, pure finish. Give it six to eight years, and drink it through 2035. $140
Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.