Three 'big-boy' Australian shirazes

Barossa doyen Peter Lehmann describes full-bodied shiraz as 'cuddly'.
Barossa doyen Peter Lehmann describes full-bodied shiraz as 'cuddly'. Photo: Shutterstock

It's fashionable to decry Big Aussie Reds, but lots of people love them. Typical "blockbusters" are rich, high-alcohol wines made from very ripe grapes grown in warmer climatic regions such as the Barossa, Clare, McLaren Vale, Heathcote and Rutherglen. Grapes that are harvested too ripe can result in porty wines. Too much alcohol leads to loss of balance and drinkability. "Dead fruit" wines lack freshness, and their tannins are clumsy. Good reds of the full-bodied kind are rich and generous, soft and rounded with supple tannins and a core of sweet fruit – what Barossa doyen Peter Lehmann called "cuddly" wines.

Tar & Roses The Rose Shiraz 2014, Heathcote $60

Score 95

Narelle King's flagship shiraz is a stand-out – full-bodied, deep and fleshy with a bright spice, plum and blackberry bouquet and flavour. The texture –fine-grained, supple tannins – is a feature. Stacks of charm and aging potential. Screw-cap; 15 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to 15 years.

Stockists include King & Godfree (Vic); winesquare.com.

Geoff Merrill Jacko's Shiraz 2013, McLaren Vale $31

Score 96

At six years, this is in a great place now, but will also age well. The rich, ripe bouquet shows attractive mellow, mature fruit character. It's deliciously sweet-fruited, lush and slurpable, with full body, abundant soft, fine tannins and lovely texture. Screw-cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to 14 years.

Stockists include Tom's Cellars, West Pymble & North Turramurra (NSW); The Wigs Cellar, Melbourne (Vic).

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Warrabilla Single Vineyard Shiraz 2017, Rutherglen $32

Score 92

Miraculously, this big, high-alcohol red isn't unbalanced. Deep, dark red-purple, it has a voluminous bouquet of nutty almond, spicy and earthy characters, the palate rich and ripe with bold, full-bodied flavour and a core of fruit sweetness, followed by a rush of drying, savoury tannins. Screw-cap; 16 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to 13 years.

Stockists include Nick's Wine Merchants, East Doncaster (Vic); warrabillawines.com.au.