On February 20th 2018, the modestly priced Penfolds showed up surprisingly well against the higher-priced offerings but they seem to be created with a more fruit-forward style intended for early drinking. The First Drop Fat of the Land was definitely the most controversial wine of the night with a real love it or hate it reaction from the crowd. Definitely a wine you need to try for yourself to decide. We also had two wines tied for 4th and two for 7th which made for lively debate.
The other high-end Shiraz are quite youthful right now and have many years ahead of them before they hit full potential.
All in all, this was a delicious collection of Australian Shiraz that showed great regional diversity - big berry and pepper with the Penfolds to more earthy, savoury notes of the Pepper Tree and the Clarendon Hills. We are positive that members walked away knowing that for sure, there is definitely a lot more to Australian Shiraz than the big Barossa wines people are most familiar with.
2014 Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz, Coonawarra $28
“Dense, dark, cassis and black berry-flavoured, with present but integrated oak, this 2014 is textbook Penfolds style shiraz, reflecting the moderate Coonawarra climate. Always fleshy and satisfying, and with the stuffing to age if you like, though also enjoyable now. Tasted February 2017. Value Rating: **” John Szabos, Winealign
2013 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, S. Australia $35
“Highly aromatic scents of cassis, blackberry, vanilla and violet, with a smoky Indian spice overtone. Rich, layered and alluringly sweet, offering densely packed flavors of dark berry preserves, spice cake and floral pastilles. Opulent yet lively Shiraz with no apparent no rough edges. Smooth tannins add shape and grip to a very long, smoke-tinged finish, with the berry note strongly repeating.” Josh Raymonds, Vinous
2013 Pepper Tree Coquun Shiraz, Hunter Valley $66
“Concentrated aromas of mulberry and blackberry, complexed by spice notes and well integrated savoury oak. A fruit driven Shiraz displaying berry fruits balanced by fine tannins and subtle oak complexity providing a classically elegant finish. Our Coquun (Hunter River) Shiraz is produced from the famous 'Tallawanta' Vineyard planted in 1920. These 90 year old vines produce tiny quantities of intensely flavoured fruit.” Awarded 97 points / 100 by James Halliday Australian Wine Companion
2012 First Drop Fat of the Land Seppeltsfield Single Vineyard Shiraz, Barossa $75
“Bottled unfiltered in December 2013. . . More evident fruit sweetness to the aroma than on many of the First Drop reds at first, plus a dairy note, though the palate has darker flavours of spice and earth and dark chocolate. More layered than the Ebenezer, with a savoury aftertaste. The tannins are very fine and supple and give more tension. Full bodied and still fresh. Big but not at all heavy.” Julia Harding of Jancis Robinson. Wine Spectator score: 93/100
2012 M. Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Lady’s Lane Shiraz, Victoria $70
“Inky ruby. Expressive aromas of ripe black and blue fruits, potpourri and cola; a smoky mineral nuance adds lift and precision. Concentrated cherry liqueur, boysenberry, spicecake and vanilla flavors develop suggestions of smoked meat and licorice on the back half. Finishes on a suave note of candied violet, delivering slowly building tannins and outstanding energy and dark-fruit-driven persistence.” Josh Raynolds, Vinous
2009 Clarendon Hills Liandra Syrah, McLaren Vale $89
“Very deep purple-black colored, the 2009 Liandra Vineyard Syrah displays aromas of warm plums, black cherry compote and yeast extract over notes of dark chocolate, toast, licorice and bacon. Concentrated and full bodied on the palate, it has a good level of crisp acid and medium-firm, grainy tannins, finishing long and savory.” Drink 2012-2022. Lisa Perrotti-Brown, 199 The Wine Advocate. RobertParker.com, 94 pts.
2012 Coriole 'Lloyd Reserve' Shiraz, McLaren Vale $60
“Deep garnet/purple, the 2012 Shiraz Lloyd Reserve is profoundly scented of crushed blueberries, blackberries and mulberries with hints of cedar, toast, marmite, menthol, spice box and anise. This full-bodied and concentrated Syrah is built like a brick house giving muscular fruit flavors that are structured by firm, fine tannins. It has a long, well-poised finish.” . Lisa PerrottiBrown, 200 The Wine Advocate. RobertParker.com, 95 pts.
2012 Henschke, Keyneton Estate Euphonium, Barossa $76
65% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc. “Inky ruby. Sexy, highly perfumed aromas of ripe dark berries, pipe tobacco, vanilla and dried flowers, with a peppery nuance adding lift. Sweet and expansive on the palate, offering densely packed black and blue fruit flavors and a hint of licorice. The vanilla and floral notes come back on the sweet, penetrating finish, which is framed by youthfully chewy, building tannins. Give this promising wine some air or bottle age.” Josh Raynolds, Vinous
How the wines were ranked