Australia, WINE

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In recent years, Australia has been one of the wine world's great enigmas. In the 1990s and early 2000s, soaring popularity abroad coupled with a concomitant explosion in vineyard acreage far exceeded even the most optimistic industry forecasts. Much of this production and cultivation was driven by mass-managed, industrial vineyards in the dry southern interior of the country, and although many of the wines were perfectly enjoyable on a basic level, the overriding fruit-driven style soon fell out of favor with average consumers and collectors alike, bad news for a country that relies on exports for at least 60% of its wine sales.

These days, however, there is a renaissance of sorts as many of the country's most talented winemakers are returning home from abroad to focus on increasingly distinctive and stylistically diverse projects in Australia's many small regions along the southeast coast, where a Mediterranean climate predominates. The hot, dry Barossa Valley is by far the most famous and largest of the southern regions, it's reputation predicated mostly on rich, boldly spicy Shiraz, although many parcels of seriously old Grenache vines produce some incredibly intriguing wines when blended with Shiraz and Mataro (Mourvèdre). To its immediate east is the hilly reach of Eden Valley, where the Riesling grape thrives and, as in Clare Valley to the northwest, produces perhaps its best expressions outside of Germany. Southwest of Barossa, along the Adelaide coast, the McLaren Vale boasts some of Australia's oldest vineyards and wineries, some dating back to 1838. Earthy, chocolaty Shiraz prevails here, too, but Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon also perform exceptionally well. Coonawarra is Australia's signature Cabernet Sauvignon region, where the varietal acheives a singularly unique character in the famous strip of iron-rich Terra Rossa soils.

Moving toward the east coast, through the checkerboard of districts in Victoria, including Heathcote, Yarra Valley, and Mornington Peninsula, vineyard cultivation has reached north of Sydney, where in Hunter Valley, among other districts, they produce an utterly unique version of Sémillon and a softer, earthier iteration of Shiraz in the sub-tropical climate. Far, far to the west of the country, seemingly at the ends of the Earth, is Margaret River, the top of the class in Western Australia's roster. Production accounts for very little of Australia's total, but quality rivals that from anywhere else. Like many other westerly wine regions around the globe, Margaret River has a propensity for producing world-class, age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon, but the cooling influence of the Indian Ocean also allows for beguiling expressions of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, indeed among Australia's finest white wines.

Popular appeal may have left Australia in its dust over the past decade, but it would be foolhardy to ignore such a large, varied, and utterly charming wine scene for reasons of fashion. There is so much to explore and so much to engage the senses here, that all true wine lovers must make themselves intimately familiar with what's going on Down Under.

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95 points James Halliday: Released each year on 27 Feb, the birth date of Kim Longbottom's late husband, the wine always his favourite... It is full-bodied, but equally full of vitality, black fruits, red fruits, spice, oak and tannins all contributing to the long, very well balanced, palate. It is… ...

JH 95
WA 91
V 91
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Henry's Drive Shiraz Padthaway Magnus 2010  (#701999)

Syrah/Shiraz from Padthaway, South Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$59.95
$80.00
Save $20.05 (25%)80.00
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94 points James Halliday (Wine Companion): Medium crimson-purple; a totally delicious second label, full of supple, sweet cassis and plum fruit, the tannins superfine, the oak precisely where it should be. Drink by: 2020. Alcohol 13.8%. Date tasted: 31/Jan/2014. ...

JH 94
WE 92
V 90
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Voyager Estate Girt by Sea Cabernet-Merlot Margaret River 2012  (#701475)

Cabernet/Bordeaux Blends from Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
$19.95
$26.00
Save $6.05 (23%)26.00
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93 points James Halliday (Australian Wine Companion): Full crimson-purple; the back label proclaims that the Lodge Hill Vineyard is the highest in the Clare Valley at 440m (it isn't), and the wine has cool-grown nuances in its bloodstream; jet black fruits have rivulets of licorice, pepper and spice… ...

JH 93
WA 90
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Jim Barry Shiraz Clare Valley The Lodge Hill 2013  (#325024)

Syrah/Shiraz from Clare Valley, South Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 3 available
$16.95
$19.00
Save $2.05 (11%)19.00
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90 points James Halliday (Australian Wine Companion): A strapping wine indeed, providing a kaleidoscope of red and black fruits with an earthy crown and tannic backbone. Will canter through the next decade or more, protected against any cork god evil. ...

JH 90
WS 89
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Yalumba The Strapper GSM Barossa Valley 2013  (#326880)

Rhone Blends - Red from Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available

95 points James Halliday (Australian Wine Companion): A blend of cabernet, merlot, petit verdot and malbec overflowing with a rainbow of cassis/blackcurrant redcurrant, plum and mulberry on the bouquet and palate alike. So much is the impact of the fruit, it buries the tannins, but allows the French… ...

JH 95
JS 93
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Moss Wood Amy's Margaret River 2014  (#327684)

Cabernet/Bordeaux Blends from Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 10 available
$24.88
$30.00
Save $5.12 (17%)30.00
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91+ points Lisa Perrotti-Brown (Wine Advocate): Medium to deep garnet-purple, the 2012 Shay s Flat Vineyard Pyrenees Shiraz opens with a slight whiff of reduction over a core of red and black currants, loam, sage and Szechuan pepper. Tight, muscular and with a just a tad too much extraction… ...

WA 91
WS 91
WE 90
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Tournon (Chapoutier) Shiraz Victoria Shays Flat Vineyard 2012  (#701533)

Syrah/Shiraz from Victoria, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 2 available
WA 91
WS 91
WE 90

94 points and 'Cellar Selection,' Wine Enthusiast: A classic blend of Cabernet and Shiraz, this is cedary and complex upon opening, easily mixing cassis, plum and blackberry with vanilla and baking spices. On the palate, it's dense and concentrated yet slightly reserved, suggesting rather than… ...

WE 94
JS 94
WA 92
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Yalumba The Signature Barossa Valley 2013  (#701470)

Cabernet/Bordeaux Blends from Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
WE 94
JS 94
WA 92

98 points James Halliday (Wine Companion): Part hand, part machine-picked, part wild and part cultured yeast, matured for 11 months in new French oak. Incredibly youthful quartz-green colour; a great chardonnay, its intensity and length right up there with the best prior vintages; white peach and… ...

JH 98
WA 96
JS 95
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$74.95
$89.00
Save $14.05 (16%)89.00
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95 points James Halliday (Wine Companion): Estate-grown, 50% whole berries, 25% whole bunches... wild yeast, matured in French oak (25% new) for 13 months. Everything falls into place, the design of the jigsaw puzzle taking shape post haste. McLaren Vale fruit essence, with black fruits and potent… ...

JH 95
JS 93
WS 90
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Yangarra Shiraz McLaren Vale 2014  (#701929)

Syrah/Shiraz from McLaren Vale, South Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
JH 95
JS 93
WS 90
$21.95
$25.00
Save $3.05 (12%)25.00
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92 points and 'Editors' Choice,' Wine Enthusiast: Scents of wet stone, paraffin and citrus ease into flavors of lemon, melon and tea on the palate. This is light in body and silky in feel, with a long, harmonious finish. Drink it now or age it up to 10 years, maybe even longer. Alcohol 10.5%. (Apr… ...

WE 92
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Silkman Semillon Hunter Valley 2015  (#701474)

Sémillon from Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 12+ available
$19.95
$24.00
Save $4.05 (17%)24.00
Save $4.05 (17%)

94 points James Halliday (Wine Companion): A vibrantly fresh and crisp blend that is the trademark of the Margaret River, the flavours spun together in a continuum between herb/snow pea/grass on the one hand, passionfruit and grapefruit on the other, fresh acidity a constant from start to finish.… ...

JH 94
V 90
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Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon Margaret River 2014  (#701473)

Other White Blends from Margaret River, Western Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 4 available
$15.95
$24.00
Save $8.05 (34%)24.00
Save $8.05 (34%)

96 points James Halliday (Wine Companion): ...Bright colour... five very different regions (Wrattonbully, Coonawarra, Padthaway, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley) and a Magimix assembly of oak treatments. The bouquet is utterly convincing, as is the genetic expression of cabernet sauvignon on the… ...

JH 96
JS 93
WS 92
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Penfolds Cabernet Sauvignon Barossa Valley Bin 407 2015  (#701690)

Cabernet Sauvignon from Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia

750ml Bottle | In stock, 1 available
JH 96
JS 93
WS 92
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