Tasting Notes - The Great Australian Red

Six sexy Aussie icons

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Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, authors of Taste Food and Wine

Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer, authors of Taste Food and Wine


Shiraz cabernet is The Great Australian Red. First championed in Australia in the late 1800s as generic "claret", the blend of shiraz and cabernet was resurrected in the 1950s. By 1962 Max Schubert, the creator of Grange, had made what he himself named the best wine of his illustrious career. A blend of Coonawarra cabernet and Barossa shiraz, 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A is now Penfolds' most successful show wine of all time, and has on countless occasions been heralded as the greatest Australian red wine ever made.

The Shiraz Cabernet blend is an Australian institution, say Tyson Stelzer and Matthew Jukes from Taste Food and Wine.

"This country championed it, refined it, and still does it better than anyone else on the planet. It's our only unique, definitive red. This is Australia's national treasure of the red wine world, and it deserves to be recognised and celebrated as Australia's greatest red wine."

As entries for the 2009 awards roll in, we take a look back at the inaugural 2007 Great Australian Red trophy and gold medal winners - six true Aussie sex symbols.

Wolf Blass Wines Black Label 2004   $111
The Great Australian Red 2007
Best Cabernet-dominant blend
When we lined up the gold medal winners for the trophy judging for The Great Australian Red 2007, we didn’t know it at the time, but the seven wines on the bench covered the full spectrum of Coonawarra, the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale. All of the wines except two were single region wines, and those two were the 2003 and 2004 Wolf Blass Black Label. In an age where single vineyard, artisan wines are all the rage, we should not forget that Australia makes some of the best cross-regional blends on the planet. The winner of The Great Australian Red 2007 is Wolf Blass Black Label 2004. It is massive, black and beastly, with vibrant black fruits and liquorice swirling into a sea of coffee oak and big, chewy tannins. Congratulations to Hatch and his team! Gold Medals were also awarded to the 2004 and 2003 vintages.

Yalumba Barossa Cabernet Shiraz 2006   $18
Best Wine Under $20
Yalumba has floored us with this wine again this year. The judges of The Great Australian Red 2006 were in awe when the 2002 took out a gold medal and then went on to win the Trophy for the best wine under $20. And just to prove it was no fluke, the 2006 vintage went and pulled off precisely the same little act in the 2007 competition. No other wine at this price comes anywhere near it – we know, because we lined up every one of them, masked the bottles and assembled a dozen of Australia’s best palates to make the decision. The team of wizards at Yalumba, led by the perspicacious Louisa Rose, has framed elegant, leafy Cabernet fruit with spicy Shiraz to produce a result that outclasses most of the competition at double the price.

Bremerton Best of Vintage Shiraz Cabernet 2004
Best Wine Over $50
Gold Medal
Climb on board and take a ride on this staggeringly impressive wine. Wildly rich, black fruits, fine tannins and more espresso beans than a CBD coffee parlour, this wine is so amazing and drop dead gorgeous that it won a Trophy in The Great Australian Red for the best wine over $50. The fact that it is ‘only’ $75 is a blessed relief, as wines of this quality can name any price they want, but Bec knows the form and she wants this wine to reach the widest audience possible. Awesome work!

Jim Barry Wines PB Reserve Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
Best Shiraz-dominant blend
Gold Medal
JBPB is a gladiator of a wine. It’s plush, rich and black and its flavours will keep fighting for as long as you care to watch. You might just need another glass of someone else’s juicy Cabernet to recover from all the action! This wine is brand new and we discovered it for the first time and awarded it the Trophy for the best Shiraz-dominant wine in The Great Australian Red 2007. No one else knows about it yet, and you’d better be quick because 250 dozen bottles won’t go far when this wine is unleashed on the world.

Kaesler Wines 2006 WOMS 2006
Gold Medal
This Weapon of Mass Seduction has picked up gongs two years in a row in The Great Australian Red, and it’s finally on the shelves for you to buy. So, if you’re a fan of the classically-dimensioned, old-fashioned great Australian reds with dark fruits and a firm structure grab a few of these and stick them away. You will be so chuffed in five year's time to put this seductress on your very own catwalk for your mates to fall in love with.

Mildara Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2004   $29
Gold Medal
This is a seamlessly blended red that delivers the very best of Coonawarra in one glass – elegant, leafy, glistening Cabernet supported by concentrated, spice-loaded Shiraz. Cabernet is belting out the lead vocal line while Shiraz hits a perfect harmony and the result is so pristine that the wine was runner-up to the Trophy winner for the best Cabernet-dominant blend in The Great Australian Red 2007. If we told you that the winner sells for four times the price, you’d run out and buy this wine straight away, wouldn’t you? Well?


Reproduced with permission. © Copyright Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer 2007

Subscribers to VisitVineyards.com and Winepros Archive can purchase Taste Food and Wine 2008 at a special 12.5% subscribers-only discount via our book partners Seekbooks, who will post the books direct to you.


  • Barossa (including Eden Valley) (SA)
  • Barossa Valley (SA)
  • Clare Valley (SA)
  • Coonawarra (SA)
  • Langhorne Creek (SA)
  • McLaren Vale (SA)

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June 30th, 2009
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