There’s a few different things to seek out in a good wine. A price tag isn’t always indicative of quality — you can find a great red without blowing the budget; though there are certainly more expensive wines that any serious wine drinker would tell you is worth the investment. Personal preference is also important — perhaps you’re more a fan of subtle flavours over punchier ones, or vice versa.
There are different grape varieties and blends available, and those varieties will even have their own particularities depending on where they come from. Shiraz is known for its bold flavours while pinot noirs are considered more delicate and merlots are fruitier and spicier.
Wines also range from light, to medium, to full-bodied. On the fuller end of the spectrum are wines that fill or coat the mouth more fully; while lighter wines are generally lower in strength and are less intense. Full-bodied wines have the highest tannins, which are those almost bitter, astringent flavours found in some wines.
Generally, a good wine will be well-balanced in acidity, tannin, alcohol and sweetness. The best way to find your personal “best red wine” is to try a few different varieties from different regions, and make notes of any common characteristics from your favourites.
PENFOLDS Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz 2018 Vintage
While they’re on the expensive side, you can’t go wrong with a Penfolds — and you certainly can’t go wrong with one of their shiraz wines. Bin 28 was first made in 1959, and was named after the famous Barossa Valley Kalimna vineyard from which the wine was originally sourced. Now a multi-region, multi-vineyard blend still containing deep roots in the Barossa, Bin 28 is ripe, robust and generously flavoured — exactly what you want from a shiraz. Expect a complex range of notes — dark cherry, blackberry, mocha espresso. Enjoy now, or allow it to age beautifully up to 2038.
POPULAR BLENDED RED
BROKENWOOD Cricket Pitch Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot
Aside from its Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, the Hunter Valley’s Brokenwood Wines is perhaps best known for its Cricket Pitch range. Their Cricket Pitch Red brings leafy, berry aromas to the fore, with almost two-thirds of the wine being cabernet sauvignon; while a shiraz component brings spice and plushness. Long tannins make it suitable for medium term ageing, though it does well for drinking at any time.
INNOCENT BYSTANDER 2017 Syrah
Syrah is another name for a shiraz — and though syrahs are traditionally made in France, this one hails from the Yarra Valley. It’s perfumed, smooth and sophisticated, with aromas of black pepper, cherries, and roses; and tasting notes of cherry compote and mocha. Matured for nine months in French oak, it’s vegan friendly and suitable to drink now or cellar for up to five years.
LITTLE GIANT Grenache
In addition to tasting delicious, South Australian label Little Giant also supports WIRES animal rescue to support the welfare of its mascot. This Grenache is satisfyingly mouth-filling but still medium weight, with ripe fruited intensity. Notes of red and dark berry fruit are underpinned by chocolate and oak, with a lasting flavour of berries, vanilla and ground spices.
LIVELY CABERNET MERLOT
GRANT BURGE Corryton Estate Single Vineyard Cabernet Merlot 2012
Located in the heart of the Barossa Valley, Grant Burge produces world-renowned drops. Sourced from the Eden Valley single vineyard where the Burge family homestead lies, the rare Corryton Estate Cabernet Merlot is only released in the very best vintages. With a full decade of ageing under its belt, drink now or give it a few years. Expect aromas of blackberry, hot chocolate, coffee, vanilla and earth; a dense textural palate; and flavours of cocoa butter and red berries with soft long tannins.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON PERFECT FOR AGEING
ST. HUGO Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon
Barossa Valley St. Hugo wines are adored the world over. This Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is a perfect one to leave to age for a few years before enjoying. When you crack it open at last, expect drying tomato leaf, peppercorn, and blackcurrants on the nose; with subtle dark fruit notes to taste and an elegant tannin structure.
JUICY, STRUCTURED CABERNET MERLOT
VASSE FELIX Filius Cabernet Merlot 2020
Hailing from Margaret River in Western Australia, Vasse Felix’s strengths lie heavily in their cabernet sauvignons. Their Filius Cabernet Merlot is described as the ‘son’ of their most popular drop, combining the elegance and structure of a classic cabernet with the bright juiciness and approachability of merlot. It has an inviting perfume of red berry custard, with notes of wild berry fruit of the forest, and lingering complexities of Japanese mushroom.
DYNAMIC PINOT NOIR
PENFOLDS Bin 23 Pinot Noir 2018
Having matured in cellar 23 at Magill Estate, Bin 23 Pinot Noir is bold and dynamic. Expect aromas of strawberry and red cherry with herb and sage notes. Medium bodied, it also has notes of anise and a mineral acidity
LUSCIOUS CABERNET MERLOT
CULLEN Cabernet Merlot
Cullen, a winery based in Wilyabrup within the Margaret River region, is world famous for their Diana Madeline Cabernet Merlot — and this is a delightful offshoot. Majority cabernet sauvignon, it’s blended with merlot and a touch of petit verdot for a luscious, bright cherry and red berry flavour. Drink today, or age up to 10 years in a cellar.
A FULL-BODIED GSM
GRANT BURGE Holy Trinity
With a storied history and deep roots in the Barossa Valley, Grant Burge wines are as famed as they are delicious. The Holy Trinity is a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre, made from Barossa-grown fruit and bursting with raspberry flavours and notes of white pepper and anise.
This excerpt has been republished from Dani Maher's article for Harper's BAZAAR Australia.
CLICK HERE to read the original article in full.