Shiraz is the foundation grape of our image-leaders Penfolds (tastings), Henschke (tastings), Torbreck (tastings), and, it could be argued, the entire Australian wine industry. More than one-quarter of all of our wine is shiraz.

All told, I’ve uploaded 198 reviews of shiraz and shiraz-based blends this month.

Two of the stars – and there were many – came from the once-unlikely but now increasingly likely shiraz source of Margaret River. Watershed ‘Senses’ (tastings) and Voyager Estate (tasting), both from the 2011 harvest and magnetically priced at $27 and $38 respectively, are terrific wines. The other region where 2011 yielded top reds was the Hunter Valley, and Meerea Park’s Terracotta Shiraz (tasting) is outstanding in a cluster of five new releases form that winery.

Blue Pyrenees Estate’s Richardson 2012 flagship shiraz (tasting) is another highlight; also shiraz based reds from Scott (tasting), Hesketh (tasting), Shaw + Smith (tastings), Longview (tasting), Angove (tasting), Maxwell (tasting) and Haselgrove. Haselgrove has released a series of four massive, single-vineyard McLaren Vale shirazes from the ’11 vintage (tastings), and Lindsay Ross (former Balgownie winemaker) has issued four statuesque shiraz-based reds from the 2010 Heathcote vintage, under his The Bridge, Shuran’s Lane label (tastings).

Best value? Probably the 2012 Moppity Reserve Shiraz ($22) (tasting), made from Hilltops grapes. Or Longview’s ’12 Red Bucket Shiraz Cabernet ($17) (tasting). Or the two Jip Jip Rocks 2012s, a shiraz (tasting) and shiraz cabernet (tasting). Both $20, they’re from Morambro Creek vineyard at Padthaway, whose various wines increasingly impress me. 

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