Bogans and cleanskins: the best of Australian shiraz

Posted on Nov 13, 2018

A bogan, a cleanskin and a $7 supermarket wine are the stars of Australia’s best-known wine variety – shiraz. Seriously.

The Great Australian Shiraz Challenge rather immodestly describes itself as “Australia’s most preeminent, prestigious and valuable single class wine competition”. It is also chaired by a blue-blood member of Australia’s first families of wine.

Which makes the triumph of a wine labelled “The Bogan” all the more deliciously ironic. Kaesler Wines’ idiosyncratically named 2016 Barossa shiraz swept all before it to take the show’s top trophy and award for best South Australian shiraz this year. Best of all, the $55 label beat bottles more than three times its price to take out the top gong.

There was more good news for Australia’s wine-loving underclasses. If $55 for a bottle of wine isn’t quite the price that most bogans – defined by one dictionary as being “uncouth people…of low social status” – would ordinarily hand over on Friday night then head for the nearest Aldi. There those nice Germans sell the 2017 One Road South Australia & Heathcote Shiraz for just $6.99. It wasn’t a trophy winner but it did score one of the show’s 31 gold medals putting it in the top 10% of all entries to win a medal.

Another bottom shelfer to stand astride the podium was Woolworths’ GR18 Langhorne Creek shiraz. The cleanskin was also awarded a gold medal and sells for just $9.99 at the supermarket’s Dan Murphy’s chain.

Apart from its bargain basement wine finds, the shiraz challenge was interesting on two levels.

Firstly, it added some interesting data to the debate about cool-climate vs warm-climate shiraz. Of the gold medal winners, most (18) came from cool-climate regions. However the show echoes our analysis earlier this year showing that the fewer warm-climate entries tended to slightly outpoint their more fashionable friends from the cold. Curiously, the warm-climate wines from this admittedly tiny sample were also significantly more expensive than their cool-climate cousins. The “hots” averaged $47 while the “colds” averaged $35.

The challenge’s second point of interest was its confirmation that price is a very poor indication of quality in the wine business. In fact, what the results from this challenge show is that the wines were mostly poorer as their prices increased.

The average price for a gold medal wine at the challenge was $38.75. The cheapest was $6.99 (the Aldi entry) while the most expensive was $90.

However, that was also the cheapest bracket. Silver medal-winning wines averaged $40.53 (min $14; max -$130) while bronze medal wines sold for $43 (min $9.99; max $185). In other words, the cheapest wine won a gold medal and the dearest could only score a bronze.

With trends like that it’s no surprise that sainted labels like Grange and Hill of Grace –  each of which sell for more than $700 – don’t submit themselves to a blind tasting at a wine show.

Anyway, the lesson for Australian shiraz lovers is clear. Forget the poncy Penfolds. Head for your nearest big box wine barn and load up the Maloo with cleanskins and supermarket labels from warm climate wine regions (think Barossa, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek). Call it the bogans’ revenge. Here are the 10 cheapest gold medal winners:

Label RRP
ALDI Stores One Road South Australia & Heathcote Shiraz 2017  $6.99
Pinnacle Drinks GR18 Langhorne Creek Shiraz 2017  $9.99
Mike Press Single Vineyard Adelaide Hills Shiraz 2016  $15.00
Mitchelton Wines Preece Heathcote SHiraz 2017  $18.00
Shingleback Wine Davey Brothers McLaren Vale Shiraz 2017  $18.00
De Bortoli Wines Woodfired Heathcote Shiraz 2017  $19.99
Ferngrove Frankland River Shiraz 2017  $20.00
Old Plains Wine Co. Longhop Shiraz 2016  $20.00
Gramp’s Barossa Shiraz 2016  $22.00
Sanguine Estate Progeny Shiraz 2014  $24.95

< Back to Blog