The three big guns of Australian red wine

Harvested shiraz grapes at Henschke's Hill of Grace vineyard in Eden Valley, South Australia.
Harvested shiraz grapes at Henschke's Hill of Grace vineyard in Eden Valley, South Australia. Photo: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

The two unchallenged icons of Australian red wine are Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the latest vintages of both have been released within days of each other. Almost every Aussie winery has a super-duper red these days, but the only one to come close to the big two in price and fame is Torbreck's The Laird. All shirazes, all South Australian, all ageworthy and expensive. (Chris Ringland, formerly Three Rivers, is up there, too, but it's almost impossible to find) The Grange and Hill of Grace are new releases; the Torbreck has been out since June.

Penfolds Grange 2014, South Australia $900

Score 98

First made in 1951 and released every year since, Grange is a blend of six premium South Australian regions led by the Barossa. The bouquet evokes mocha, preserved plum, smoky toasty oak, tar and graphite. Very concentrated, full-bodied and superbly balanced, this Grange is already remarkably accessible. Cork; 14.5 per cent alcohol.

Penfolds 2014 Grange.
Penfolds 2014 Grange. Photo: Supplied

Ageing? Best from 2021 to 2048+.

Stockists include Boccaccio Cellars & Nick's Wine Merchants (Vic); Porters Liquor, Northwood & Sydney Wine Merchants, Terrey Hills (NSW).

Henschke Hill of Grace 2013, Eden Valley $825

Score 98

This single-vineyard wine was first bottled in 1958 and has only skipped four vintages. Less massive than Laird or Grange, its feature is tremendous complexity, detail and charm. Aromas of violet, sage, raspberry, aniseed, earth and mixed spices. It has a glossy, silken texture, at once fruit-sweet and savoury, with awesome concentration and persistence. Vino-Lok; 14.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to 2043+.

Stockists include Five Way Cellars, Paddington (NSW); Armadale Cellars (Vic).


Torbreck The Laird Shiraz 2013, Barossa Valley $750

Score 97

This is the sixth vintage released since the debut 2005, all from a single vineyard at Marananga. The glass-staining colour echoes its all-round density and massive concentration. Aromas of smoky, toasty oak, bitumen, tar and graphite; mocha, coconut, espresso coffee and cocoa powder, too. The wine is weighty, powerful, oaky and tannic, with a commanding presence. Cork; 15.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Best 2020 to 2040+.

Stockists include Langton's Fine Wines nationally; Best Cellars, East Sydney (NSW).