New tasting notes

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Shiraz is the wine on everyone’s lips. About 28% of all Australian wine is shiraz, more than one in four bottles – an almost incredible statistic. This month I’ve uploaded more than 170 shiraz tasting notes, largely new releases from 2012, 11 and 10 vintages, but also a complete line-up of the 2011 McLaren Vale Scarce Earth shirazes and a vertical tasting of Mitchell shiraz going back to 2002.

The 2010 shiraz vintage continues to delight and the early releases from ‘12 are showing signs this will be just as strong a vintage, but ‘11 is the bogeyman. As you’ll see from the reviews, ’11 was a good year in McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, against the trend in South Australia. But it was difficult in most of the eastern half of the country, while WA had a superb season and so did the Hunter Valley.

The Hunter shirazes are delicious: look for Thomas (tastings – various labels, topped off by Kiss), Scarborough (tastings), Brokenwood Graveyard (tastings), and from WA, Sandalford’s Prendiville Reserve – and its regular shiraz at $20 is a great bargain (tastings). See also Plantagenet Omrah, a steal at $19 (tastings).

And many more. Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge 2010 (tastings) is a multiple trophy winner (topped by the Macquarie Bank trophy for wine of show at 2012 Sydney Royal): at $30, it’s one of the great bargains of the year. Giaconda Estate Vineyard ‘11 (tastings), By Farr ‘10 (tastings), Ravensworth ‘12 (tastings) and Innocent Bystander Mea Culpa ‘11 (tastings) are other great cool-climate shirazes in the elegant, spicy style. One the other hand, we have a bevy of big beauties from First Drop, with its expensive but sensational Barossa sub-regional bottlings (tastings).

It’s not all about shiraz. We have 70 new pinot noirs on the site (led by Ata Rangi – tastings, Neudorf – tastings, Escarpment – tastings, Chard Farm – tastings, By Farr – tastings and Paringa Estate – tastings), 50 sparkling and Champagnes (headed by ’04 Taittinger Comtes – tastings and Dom Perignon – tastings, and the new releases for Arras – tastings) and 73 sauvignon blancs. And the aforementioned Mitchell back-tasting covered the last decade of Sevenhill Vineyard cabernet sauvignon (still under $30 and one of the undersung bargains of the wine world!), Watervale and McNicol rieslings, and Peppertree and McNicol shirazes. These are wines that age superbly, as the tasting showed.

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