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Red is best

If there’s one thing that sets red wine apart from white, it is tannins. Derived from grape skins and seeds, tannins are what give red wine structure, while also acting as a natural anti-oxidant, writes Andrew Graham.

In the best wines of the world, tannins are highly valued. Yet for many Australian wines tannins are conspicuously avoided, with the drying, occasionally astringent edges of this fantastic phenolic compound seen as unappealing to an ‘Australian palate’.

But that situation is changing and, mark my words, good tannins will be the next thing winemakers will be talking about on back labels and at wine dinners. It’s only a matter of time…

Best Aussie red
Best’s Great Western Bin
Shiraz 2014

Historically one of the great bargains in Australian Shiraz (in my opinion), and even the recent price changes haven’t dented this wine’s appeal.

The first thing you notice is that lovely purple. The nose is still wound up tight, the purple fruit sitting squat and so tight, with just a sliver of plum essence, black pepper and a little vanilla bean oak escaping. It’s just 13.5% and looks composed and so balanced – you can just drink it, helped along by fresh acidity. Everything in its right place, the moderation instantly making this more appealing than the ’13, the top shelf length suggesting long-term glory. More!

Score: 18.5/20
RRP: $85
Would I buy it?
Yes, yes I would.

More great Shiraz
Plantagenet Great
Shiraz 2013

Probably the most interesting Plantagenet Shiraz I’ve had in a while. Sourced from now 40-year-old vines, this spent 24 months in oak – but doesn’t look it. Indeed it seems spicier, deeper, longer this vintage. A keeper.

Perfectly poised on the palate, this is all about meaty, dark berry fruit in a quite complex and very savoury form, sitting between a spicy cool climate style and something riper/ more robust, all while maintaining balance and fair tannins.

Score: 18.5/20
RRP: $45
Would I buy it? I wouldn’t mind this in the cellar at all. Price is also very reasonable.

Old school glory
Redman Coonawarra
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot 2010

Old school in every way – and all the better for it.

Good colour for a six-year-old red, this smells of dusty, red fruit and gumleaf. You can almost reach in and touch the Coonawarra soul with this wine, all rough hands and hard work.

Good, hearty palate is not flashy, not extravagant, just dark, thick through the middle and dry to finish (maybe a little warm). It will live for 30 years, and pleasure it will give, though never destined to win a trophy.

Real red wine, destined for drinking.

Score: 17.8/20
RRP: $29
Would I buy it? I’d like some of this in the cellar for drinking in a decade.

Pinot beauty
Burton McMahon
Yarra Valley
Pinot Noir 2014

Another new wine from Matt Burton (Gundog Estate) and Dylan McMahon (Seville Estate), with fruit sourced from the Syme on Yarra vineyard in the Upper Yarra.

Ruby red, the joy here is all about vibrancy. Baked cherry and raspberry fruit, the palate bony, stemmy and yet succulent, the late bloom of red fruit putting skin on the tannic bones. I love the structure here, those tannins and the fresh red fruit rather addictive, even if it’s a little lean through the middle. Quality juice and well-priced.

Score: 18/20
RRP: $36
Would I buy it? I’d happily buy a bottle off the list. At this price it’s a nobrainer.

“But that situation is changing and, mark my words, good tannins will be the next thing winemakers will be talking about on back labels and at wine dinners.”

Andrew Graham
2009/10 WCA Wine Journalism ‘Young Gun; Wine Judge; Gourmet Traveller WINE and Breathe Hunter Valley magazine contributor; LattéLife columnist; National Liquor News Tasting panellist and Chablis lover who fell into the liquor industry chiefly to buy cheap beer. Over a decade later and I’m still here, now studying towards a Masters of Wine Technology and Viticulture, and still spending all my money on beer and wine.


About the author

Alana Lowes

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