The great Australian blend of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon

Posted on Mar 3, 2016

Shiraz and Cabernet  Sauv

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie – Oi, Oi, Oi!

What the national chant lacks in sophistication is usually made up for with enthusiasm. So, as the flags start fluttering from cars around the nation ahead of Australia Day, our thoughts are turning to what will be in the Southern Cross-spangled cooler next Tuesday.

Australia’s most distinctive wine is, of course, the great Australian blend of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon. Penfolds Bin 389 – sometimes known as “Baby Grange” – is perhaps one of the best-known examples of the blend and the current 2013 vintage is one of its finest recent versions. You’ll pay about $75 for it at national retailers.
But regular Vinloco readers will know by now that we’re not often moved by big names with prices to match. We’ve looked a little harder into the current crop of ratings and here’s what we found:

Our first port of call was The Great Australian Red Challenge run by Tyson Stelzer and Matthew Jukes. Their top pick was from one of Australia’s top cabernet shiraz blenders – Yalumba – whose 2012 Caley topped the contest for the second year running. Then again, so it probably should at $100 a bottle. The Caley also collected gold at the 2015 Royal Queensland show.

Stelzer and Jukes’ best “budget” pick (wine under $25/bottle) got us more excited: the Lake Breeze Bernoota 2013 also won a consecutive trophy gold and sells for just $20 directly from the winemaker. The challenge didn’t publish point scores so we’ll never know just how much better the Yalumba was at five times the price. You be the judge!

Jukes and Stelzer’s other standout was the Pepperjack Certified Shiraz Cabernet 2013 which sells nationally for about $30. The Pepperjack also won golds at the Royal Perth, Langhorne Creek and Queensland shows so would be our pick of the three.

The wine that the pair missed was the Moppity Vineyards Atticus Cabernet Shiraz. The 2013 and 2014 vintages collected three golds between them at the Small Winemakers, Canberra and Cairns shows. But good luck finding it. You’ll have to consult their stockists online to find a pub close to you that might have it. If you do track one down, expect to pay about $45 a bottle.

Other contenders from the 2015 shows were:

  • Lindemans Coonawarra Trio Limestone Ridge 2013 – four golds at the Melbourne, Sydney, Limestone Coast and Cowra shows ($55),
  • Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Shiraz – four golds for three different vintages spanning 2010-2013 at the Royal Adelaide, Perth and Langhorne Creek shows ($109) and
  • Wynns Coonawarra V&A Lane Cabernet Shiraz 2012 – two golds at the Sydney and Royal Adelaide shows ($50).

But it was the little red label that could that took our eye this year. Wolf Blass fetches just $7 a bottle for its Red Label Shiraz Cabernet. Yet this bargain hunter’s dream collected gold at this year’s Sydney show for its 2013 offering and the same at the Royal Perth last year.

Remember – don’t be fooled by price and avagoodastrayaday!

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