Top Ten Australian Red Wines - 2016

I tend to taste and drink a lot of wine over the course of a year.  I am in a few tasting groups, sometimes the wines are consumed at various local wine store tastings and a number drunk with friends and family.  Early on, it was evident that the best way to pay attention and also to remember what wines were consumed was to write a tasting note.  Over the years, I have written well over 10,000 tasting notes probably representing 70% of the wines I have tasted.  I make no pretense about the quality of the notes, but sip by sip and bottle by bottle, the notes have gotten a bit better.  It always interesting at the end of the year to go back and review what wines were consumed and which ones I liked the best – overall and in categories.  In 2016 I wrote 1,334 tasting notes.  Thanks to computers, I can sort and select them down into various lists.  I give you these to use as you wish – suggestions, comments, and reasons to laugh or disagree.  

Caveat - I have for the most part not repeated wines that were tasted multiple times or the same wine from a different but close vintage in an effort to list more wines for those looking for suggestions.  I drink, for the most part, what my wife and I like, so did I miss out on categories or specific wines?  You bet.  There is a lot of great wine out there and one can’t drink it all.  Part of the fun is seeing, over the years, how tastes change, finding new discoveries, following the development of vintages but most of all, just enjoying this special beverage. Cheers! - Loren Sonkin

1.  2001 Penfolds Grange - Australia, South Australia

Always a pleasure to drink Grange. I don't know how much air this bottle got, but it could have used more. Purple in color, slight ruby at the rim. The nose has black raspberries, black pepper, slight grilled meats and some cedar. On the palate, plenty of tannins left. Lots of black raspberry fruit. Very deep. Showing a slight jam quality in a good way. Very delicious. This still is a ways from being at peak but was a pleasure to drink now. Given the pricing of these wine, I won't be drinking many in the future, so this was a treat. (96 pts.) 

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

2.  2010 Two Hands Shiraz Bella's Garden - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley

First bottle was badly corked. Luckily, they had a replacement. My favorite of the group. Inky purple in color. Its really tight and really concentrated but kept opening up. A last taste at the 3 hour mark showed it sill has a way to go. The nose has coffee, slight dill and black raspberries. Also a bit of char. Plenty of oak especially on the palate at this point. Even more tannins. even more fruit. Slight heat on the finish. Really a special wine but needs three to five more years minimum. (95 pts.) 

3.  2002 Turkey Flat Shiraz - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley

Wow. Gorgeous showing. I had this about 5 years ago and it was not close to this. Mature and peaking but still vibrant and delicious. Ruby/purple in color. The nose is great. Earthy, black raspberries, black pepper, slight roasted herbs. On the palate, this is not a monster. Black raspberries intertwined with damp earthiness and black pepper. Nice balance. Good acidity. Very food friendly. Long finish. Just a beautiful wine. (94 pts.) 

4.  2012 Jasper Hill Shiraz Georgia's Paddock - Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Heathcote

I really liked this. Again, it had been years since I have had one. The nose has black raspberries, dusty. Lots of fruit on the palate. Big but not a monster. Juicy. (93 pts.)

 

5.  2013 John Duval Wines Shiraz Entity - Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley

Boysenberry and peppery nose. Good fruit on the palate. Firm tannins. Juicy acidity. (93 pts.) 

6.  2010 Two Hands Shiraz Lily's Garden - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale

Inky purple in color. The nose has cedar, black raspberries, a bit of coffee grounds and a bit of eucalyptus. Soft texture despite a still good amount of tannins. On the palate, it turns more black cherry along with the black raspberries. It keeps opening to show a nice complexity. Long finish. A slight amount of heat. (93 pts.) 

7.  2011 Mollydooker Shiraz Carnival of Love - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale

Actually seemed to be just a bit more refined than the 14. I do find these mellow a bit with age. Having had the 05 recently, its not so much development, as they don't change much, as a slight integration. They also don't show much age at 10 years. Same story - love it or hate it. (92 pts.) 

8.  2014 Innocent Bystander Shiraz Mea Culpa Yarra Valley - Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Yarra Valley

Purple in color. Earthy nose. Black raspberries. Slightly dusty on the nose. Black raspberry fruit and peppery on the palate. Juicy acidity. Medium tannins. (92 pts.)

9.  2012 d'Arenberg Shiraz The Dead Arm - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale

Black raspberries and cedar on the nose. Tannic. Black raspberries on the palate. Its been a decade since I had one and about how I remembered it. (92 pts.) 

 

 

 

10.  2009 Clarendon Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Brookman - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, Clarendon

Much different from the other reds on the table. Younger and Australian. Purple in color. The nose is slightly rasiny. Kirsch and some roasted herbs. On the palate, I think it is much better. Cassis, some black pepper, licorice. Medium firm tannins. Juicy acidity. Nice finish. With all the old wines on the table, this had a certain freshness that was welcome. A little went a long way for me. My wife loved it though. (92 pts.)