Wine is probably one of the most overwhelming things you can buy. From stylish labels emblazoned with gold and silver medals to a countless variety of blends, grape varieties and vintages, unless you walk into a store with a 300-page wine guide it’s nigh-on impossible to figure out what’s actually going to get you any value for money.
We think that needs to change, so here’s a quick guide to making sure you’re getting the best Australian red wine for your coin.
A product of the Syrah style grape, Shiraz has long been one of the most popular Australian red wines. Shiraz flourishes in warmer climates (although cool-climate Shiraz is becoming increasingly popular) which allow the grapes to ripen and produce a rich, fruity and spicy flavour profile that goes perfectly with red meat and the classic Aussie barbeque.
If you’re shopping Australian Shiraz, keep areas like South Australia’s Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale in your mind, as these warmer areas produce globally renowned Shiraz year-on year.
Under $20 – Pepperjack Shiraz, Barossa Valley
$20 – $50 – Kerrigan + Berry Shiraz 2014, Western Australia
$50 – $100 – Kellermeister Wild Witch Shiraz 2009, Barossa Valley
$100 – $200 – Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz, Grampians
Cab Sav is one of the true classic red wines, first made popular along with Merlot in the legendary Bordeaux region of France. Traditionally Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied, fruity and dry red wine, that can even take on flavours of green capsicum, menthol, mint and herbs (Eucalyptus is even prominent in Australian Cab Sav) when grown in areas with the right kind of soil and cooler climates.
Naturally then, Australia, with its mixture of climates and clay-based, gravelly soils, has been noted for its ability to produce wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon. Look for places like South Australia’s Coonawarra and WA’s Margaret River on the label, and note that cooler areas will produce more savoury, herbal-tasting wine, while Cab Sav grown in warmer areas will generally be sweeter.
Under $20 – Kirrihill Tullymore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Clare Valley
$20 – $50 – Wynn’s ‘The Siding’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Coonawarra
$50 – $100 – Hardy’s Thomas Hardy Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Coonawarra & Margaret River
$100 – $200 – Balnaves ‘The Tally’ Reserve Caberney Sauvignon, Coonawarra
The Pinot Noir grape is famous for its love of cool climates, and it was the new world of Australian, New Zealand and California wines that took Pinot Noir wine out of obscurity and into the red-wine mainstream.
Leading the charge from Australia are the vineyards of Australia’s cooler regions, from Victoria’s famed Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula areas, to southern WA and even Tasmania. Dry, complex, relatively mild and more acidic than other red wines, Pinot Noir is perfect with lighter red meats and even particularly oily fish.
Under $20 – ‘6ft6’ Pinot Noir 2015, Geelong
$20 – $50 – Castle Rock Estate Pinot Noir 2011, Great Southern WA
$50 – $100 – Freycinet Pinot Noir 2014, East Coast Tasmania
$100 – $200 – Bindi ‘Block 5’ Pinot Noir 2014, Macedon Ranges
The soft, smooth flavours of merlot have been a staple of classic red wine for centuries, regarded as the absolute pinnacle of Bordeaux’s famous red wines. Despite this though, it’s rarely drank as a standalone wine, and as such is rarely favoured by either critics or drinkers looking to find Australia’s best reds.
Merlot also thrives in the clay soil regions around Australia where Cab Sav is grown, and the two are often blended to create dry, timeless Cabernet Merlot blends favoured by thousands of Aussie wine drinkers every day. The Cabernet Sauvignon brings the robust flavours, while Merlot offers smoothness, balance and a velvety mouth feel. As with Cab Sav, look for areas like Coonawarra and Margaret River on the label.
Under $20 – Pepper Tree Merlot 2014, Wrattonbully
$20 – $50 – Hollick ‘Neilson’s Block’ Merlot 2008, Coonawarra
Blends are where the best Australian red wines come together to form unique, mouthwatering concoctions that are not only incredibly versatile for pairing with food, but that also often make incredible value for money. From classic cabernet merlot to shiraz-based wines, red blends are also fantastic for trying out new varieties of Red grape that would otherwise be inaccessible, like Grenache, Tempranillo and Mataro.
Under $20 – Chateau Tanunda ‘Chorus’ Shiraz Grenache Mataro, Barossa Valley
$20 – $50 – Woodlands Cabernet Merlot 2010, Margaret River
$50 – $100 – Penfolds ‘Bin 389’ Cabernet Shiraz, South Australia
$100 – $200 – Mount Mary ‘Quintet’ 2005, Yarra Valley