The saga of Australian wine exports has yet to be definitively written. In the mid-2000’s Australian Shiraz was flying of the shelves in the U.S. and U.K and the word was that Australia would be the next powerhouse wine region.
And then sales collapsed.
Wine writers are still debating the cause of the collapse but there was probably several factors at work: too much focus on quantity over quality and thus a reputation for cheap, excessively sweet wines (aka Yellowtail); a formulaic approach to winemaking driven by a few large producers producing clean, but dull wines; and at the high end, excessive focus on overly-ripe, heavily-oaked fruit bombs of the sort given high scores by Robert Parker. The debate is on-going.
It would seem, if this offering from Oxford Landing is representative, that the Aussies are performing an about-face.
This is not yellowtail.
Although some ripe plum notes are apparent, the nose is weirdly floral with generic wood notes, baking spices, and some pepper in the background. It is off-putting at first because one doesn’t expect a Shiraz to be quite this floral, but I grew accustomed to it.
The palate shows simple plum flavors on a medium-weight frame and it’s smoothly-textured in its initial phase, but medium plus acidity and robust tannins take over and make the finish a long but puckering affair. There is plenty of structure but it all turns sour and bitter so the finish is a bit of an ordeal. In any case, there is no overall impression of sweetness and certainly not fat and flabby. The mouthfeel would be quite nice if the flavors had more depth and persistence. It took me two days to warm-up to this wine but I found my enjoyment meter inching up it by the end of the bottle.
The grapes are harvested in Riverland, a very warm region. (Oxford Landing Estates is owned by Yalumba) This is a quite different expression of Australian Shiraz—I’m interested to see if it is a trend.