Australia Trade Tasting 2024

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On 30th January 2024, the Australia Trade Tasting event showcased an impressive array of over 700 wines from 200 producers. Australia has a strong position in the UK off-trade (not consumed on premises) market, where it leads as the number one country of origin, having nearly double the market share of its closest competitor, Italy. For more background read my article on Understanding Australian Wine.

The focus of my exploration was for wines that are already distributed in the UK, with an emphasis on affordability, though I also included more premium options for comparison. A key question I had in mind was whether it’s possible to find a less expensive wine that can rival the more expensive ones in quality and taste.

These are the wines I tried:

The wines that stood out for me were the following (prices are indicative and vary depending on the merchant):

Pizzini King Valley Brachetto 2022. Sparkling rose. Unique wine variety originally grown in Northern Italy. Strawberry aromatics. Fruity with a drier finish. Low 5.5% £15.50.

Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021. Purple hues, ripe blueberry aroma, spice and chocolate taste. Good balance. 14.5% £15.99.

The Hidden Sea South Australia Shiraz 2021. Black fruit aroma and taste. Balanced tannins. 14.5% £9.75. (have seen on offer for £7.25 at Booths)

Peter Lehmann Stonewell Barossa Valley Shiraz 2017. Dark plum fruit aromas, black fruit, liquorice, chocolate taste. 14.5% £56.99.

Langmeil Orphan Bank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2019. Deep colour, aroma of blue fruits and violets, fruity sweetness with long spice finish. 15.0% £59.50.

Jim Barry The McRae Wood Clare Valley Shiraz 2016. Dark fruit nose with spice, rich taste of dark fruits, chocolate, oak and cinnamon. 14.0% £39.99.

Wakefield Masterstroke McLaren Vale Shiraz 2019. Matured in new and old American oak barrels for 6 months. Aromas of red plums, black cherry, vanilla and spice. Dark plum and blackcurrant, chocolate taste with very well balanced tannins. 14.0% £30.00.

Kaesler The Bogan Barossa Valley Shiraz 2021. Vines planted between 1899 and the 1960. Black fruit and spice notes. Smooth taste of blackberry with a little vanilla and chocolate. 14.5% £34.50.

Wirra Wirra Catapult McLaren Vale Shiraz 2021. Plum and blackberry nose. Ripe fruity taste with oak. 14.5% £19.00.

Henschke Johann’s Garden Barossa Valley Grenache Mataro Shiraz 2020. Silver Medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards. Top 100 Wine Merchant Winner. Aromas of redcurrant and raspberry. Balanced taste with red berries and liquorice. Good length. 14.5% £43.99.

McPherson Family Vineyards Andrew’s Shiraz 2021. Blackberry and liquorice aroma. Bold, fruity flavours of blackberry. Balanced oak with vanilla. 14.5% £9.99.

My general impressions of the entry-level red wines were that they tended to be usually lacking in tannin or oak structure. However, there were three exceptions that stood out for their quality and value: Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz, McPherson Family Vineyards Andrew’s Shiraz and The Hidden Sea South Australia Shiraz that rivalled some of the much more expensive wines. Among the best premium wines I tasted at the show were the Peter Lehmann Stonewell and Langmeil Orphan Bank and Henschke Johann’s Garden.

This event was well attended, in spite of the rail unions’ efforts to the contrary, since it coincided with a train strike day.