The Great Australian Red

For the past seven years two wine writers, Tyson Stelzer and Matthew Jukes, have run The Great Australian Red, a competition aimed at finding Australia’s best reds blended from cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.

The ‘cab-shiraz’ blend is a traditional Aussie combination which is seen in some quarters as a trifle old hat. But the wines are often exceptional.

Penfolds Bin 60A 2004 (tasting), Wolf Blass Black Label 2004, 5, 9 and 10 (tastings), Penfolds Bin 389 2004, 5, 6, 8 and 10 (tastings), Jacob’s Creek Johann 2002, 5 and 9 (tastings) and Yalumba The Reserve 1990, 2001 (tasting) and 4 are all examples of trophy or gold medal winners in this award.

The organisers are hosting a trade tasting in Sydney next month, and casting my eye down the list of top wines to be poured, I was shocked at how few of them came from smaller or newer wineries.

Kaesler (tastings) and Lake Breeze (tastingsare two smaller wineries; Aramis (tastingsis about the only new one, although Annie’s Lane Quelltaler Watervale 2010 shiraz cabernet (tastingis a new wine from an established producer.

Stelzer tells me Barossa winemaker Wayne Dutschke was inspired to create his St Jakobi Vineyard cabernet shiraz after judging in the competition. But he agrees cabernet shiraz blends tend to be overlooked by younger and smaller wineries.

“It’s interesting to note that the very top wine in the portfolios of Yalumba, Jacob’s Creek, Penfolds and (besides Platinum) Wolf Blass is a cabernet shiraz blend.

All have thrown big resources at the blend at two, three or four different price-points for decades, so perhaps it’s no surprise that they dominate the trophy list,” he comments.


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