25 great reds UN­DER $30

Halliday - - Great Reds -

The Big Red is back. The Light Red is bet­ter than ever.

The Points of Dif­fer­ence are get­ting quirkier and more en­gag­ing. That’s the ‘take home’.

A lot of wine is tasted for this an­nual fea­ture and a great deal of them are blah, but the jew­els this year are big­ger, brighter and more ex­otic than ever. These thump­ing reds – from McLaren

Vale, the Barossa Val­ley, the Lime­stone Coast, the warm in­lands of Vic­to­ria and even Mar­garet River (bet­ter known for pro­duc­ing more el­e­gant reds) – are look­ing as buoy­ant as they are big.

This lat­ter point is im­por­tant. Big Reds are made great by their gen­eros­ity of flavour, but are al­ways at their best when burst­ing with fresh­ness and life.

You can un­der­stand a lot about Aus­tralian wine by look­ing at it through the lens of grenache. This warm-hearted va­ri­ety will take about as much sun as any given sum­mer can throw at it, which is why it al­ways blends well with shi­raz: it adds bright­ness and spice to the dark­ness of shi­raz. But it can pro­duce light, del­i­cate, in­trigu­ing wines when picked ear­lier and treated with the kind of kid gloves usu­ally re­served for the likes of pinot noir. The ver­sion from St John’s Road listed here is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple, but also an in­sight into the new world of Aus­tralian grenache. Big or light. Sweet or spicy. We do both – well.

If you have a keen eye for value and are not buy­ing tem­pranillo, you need to start do­ing so pronto. It’s a mid-weight va­ri­ety with fruit ripeness to the fore. All the good ones seem to slip down eas­ily. And yet, for all their fruit-driven ap­peal, tem­pranillo will also of­ten boast savoury-spicy edges. You can drink it with just about any­thing.

There’s a la­grein in the list too. I’m not even go­ing to use the words ‘his­toric mo­ment’. Speak­ing of which, three pinot noirs made it into my list this year. I’m pretty sure that’s a first. All of them are from the 2017 vin­tage, and if that doesn’t send a clear mes­sage about the class of that growing sea­son, nothing will.

Thank­fully we don’t have to break the bank to make hay, which of course is the point of this list: ev­ery wine here does its darn­d­est to make high-priced wine re­dun­dant.

2017 Torzi Matthews Mys­tic Park Shi­raz

Wine­maker Dom Torzi is al­ways a fan­tas­tic go-to when look­ing for value, but he’s ex­celled him­self here. This is shi­raz with an Eden Val­ley tat­too: buoy­ant per­fume, traces of sweet, dried herbs, plenty of juicy fruit, but not at all heavy. It’s well-pack­aged, well-made and beau­ti­fully flavoured. The only is­sue is that it was made in lim­ited quan­tity, and restau­rants are clam­ber­ing for it. RRP $25 torz­i­matthews.com.au

2017 Punt Road Pinot Noir

Boy oh boy. The 2017 vin­tage has pro­duced some ex­cel­lent re­sults, but the qual­ity-price ra­tio will rarely be as strongly in the buyer’s favour than it is here, es­pe­cially for pinot noir, where value is no­to­ri­ously hard to find. It fea­tures sweet, ripe fruit, the tangy sour­ness so typ­i­cal of the va­ri­ety, and all the herbal in­fu­sions you could ever de­sire. This is both sum­mery and au­tum­nal at once. RRP $29 pun­troad­wines.com.au

2017 Cal­abria Pri­vate Bin Nero d’Avola

The price sticker fid­dles while the qual­ity of this nero burns. Cal­abria’s Pri­vate Bin range is a happy hunt­ing ground for value, and once again the easy-to-quaff nero d’Avola is where we hit the sweet spot. It’s red-berried and light-ish, but has the tex­ture of suede and just makes you want to keep com­ing back for more. RRP $15 cal­abri­aw­ines.com.au

2017 St John’s Road The Re­silient Grenache

It’s from the Barossa, but it’s not a thumper; it’s red-berried and spice-laden, its juici­ness off­set by sub­tle earthy, al­most anise-like tones. St John’s Road isn’t your av­er­age pro­ducer; its wines are al­ways wor­thy of in­ves­ti­ga­tion. This slip­pery lit­tle sucker is a choice ex­am­ple.

RRP $22 stjohn­sroad.com

2016 Amherst Daisy Creek Shi­raz

A ro­bust red at a ridicu­lously snappy price. We’re in clover with this Daisy Creek, from the Pyre­nees in north-west Vic­to­ria; it saw all French oak, it’s rich with plum-like flavour and it has a minty, cof­fee-cream char­ac­ter slathered through­out. It de­liv­ers in spades, for now or later.

RRP $20 amherst­win­ery.com

2016 First Drop Mother’s Ruin Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon

Caber­net sau­vi­gnon is al­most al­ways a monty for the cel­lar and while this ex­am­ple from McLaren Vale will ma­ture re­li­ably, it’s best tucked into soon-ish. It de­liv­ers berried flavour in such straight-shoot­ing style that you can’t help but think: why wait? One sip and the words ‘bang on’ were ut­tered. RRP $25 first­drop­wines.com.au

2016 Wan­golina La­grein

Value isn’t al­ways found in the usual places. The la­grein grape nor­mally calls the north of Italy home and yet here we have a tip-top ex­am­ple from the Lime­stone Coast of South Aus­tralia, made by a low-key pro­ducer too. But it’s a rip­per. We taste a heck of a lot of wines at the var­i­ous Wine Com­pan­ion HQs and dis­cov­er­ies like this make it all worth­while. RRP $22 wan­golina.com.au

2016 Pa­tritti Old Gate Shi­raz

You’ll like this. It’s a rich red from Ble­witt Springs in McLaren Vale, but just in case too much is never enough, it in­cludes a five per cent jolt of ex­tra shi­raz­fu­elled flavour from the Barossa. It’s toasty, black-berried, choco­latey and mus­cu­lar all at once; its creamy mouth­feel the ic­ing on a par­tic­u­larly flavour­some cake. You’d rate this as a ‘wow’ for value. RRP $20 pa­tritti.com.au

2015 Houghton The Ban­dit Shi­raz

Fran­k­land River is a happy place for shi­raz, but it’s also a good hunt­ing ground for value. Com­bine the two and you have this Ban­dit Shi­raz. It’s medium weight, but of­fers more than enough flavour, and when com­bined with soft tex­ture, im­pres­sive length and just enough vari­a­tion through the palate to keep you in­ter­ested, we have a red well worth track­ing down. RRP $20 houghton-wines.com.au

2016 Amelia Park Caber­net Mer­lot

Mar­garet River caber­net of this qual­ity rarely comes at this kind of price. The value here isn’t just good, it’s com­pelling. My notes read: “it flows, it se­duces, it lingers”. Its ripe-berried flavours are pre­sented in firm, con­fi­dent steps. It’s an im­mac­u­late red wine, per­fect for the cel­lar. RRP $29 ameli­a­park­wines.com.au

2014 Shut the Gate For Love Tem­pranillo

There’s a sweet­ness to the red-berried fruit pro­file and plenty of that cola-like flavour we of­ten see in young tem­pranillo, but com­bine this with smoky oak and a run of creamy vanilla, and you’re swept straight into de­li­cious drink­ing ter­ri­tory.

Once upon a time it looked as though san­giovese would be a big thing in Aus­tralian wine, but tem­pranillo has trumped it in a big way. Wines like this are the rea­son why. RRP $25 shut­the­gate.com.au

“You can un­der­stand a lot about Aus­tralian wine by look­ing at it through the lens of grenache.

This warm-hearted va­ri­ety will take about as much sun as any given sum­mer can throw at it, which is why it al­ways blends well with shi­raz.”

Camp­bell Mat­tin­son

2016 Palmer Krack­er­jack Caber­net Mer­lot

It has to be said: Krack­er­jack by name, crack­er­jack by na­ture. This is a big, bold red, un­re­con­structed in some ways; its sweet, black-berried flavours given a healthy coat­ing of toasty, malty oak. It’s not about fi­nesse, it’s about warm, rich flavour, a rum­ble of firm tan­nin en­tirely at home amid it all. RRP $25 palmer­wines.com.au

2016 Pen­ley Es­tate Ar­gus

It’s a blend of shi­raz, caber­net sau­vi­gnon, mer­lot and caber­net franc, and it’s a beauty. We tend to grav­i­tate to­ward sin­gle va­ri­ety wines nowa­days, but the truth is that when a blend is done well, it’s hard to beat, par­tic­u­larly when the caber­net fam­ily is in­volved. This is a prime ex­am­ple at a snip of a price; its ripeber­ried flavours and soft tex­ture boasting both di­men­sion and pol­ish. RRP $20 pen­ley.com.au

2016 Taminick Cel­lars Du­rif

This is a gift to lovers of big red wine. It’s al­most porty in its in­ten­sity and fruit sweet­ness but, im­por­tantly, it’s also fresh and vi­brant, its flavours fall­ing over them­selves to please, the outer layer of Dutch cho­co­late-like flavour the per­fect foil to the mid-palate run of liquorice and plum. It’s an ab­so­lute treat at the price; when asked, wine­maker James Booth noted “We prob­a­bly sell it a lit­tle too cheap”. RRP $20 taminick­cel­lars.com.au

2015 Snake + Her­ring Dirty Boots

Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon

If you’re seek­ing value, look to caber­net sau­vi­gnon. It’s not as fash­ion­able as pinot noir or neb­bi­olo or (the never out-of­style) shi­raz, which for those who know their stuff makes for happy days in­deed. That said, value and Mar­garet River don’t nor­mally go to­gether and yet this ter­rific, deep-set red ranks high on the price-qual­ity me­tre. It’s the per­fect wine to buy by the case, for drink­ing both now and/or later. RRP $24 snake­and­her­ring.com.au

2017 Hod­dles Creek Pinot Noir

The goal this year, as it was last, was to make a list without in­clud­ing Hod­dles Creek Pinot Noir. It’s ap­peared in ev­ery one of our an­nual Great Red guides, an amaz­ing feat given that pinot noir is no­to­ri­ously fickle. And yet here we are again. The 2017 vin­tage, a pearler in the Yarra Val­ley for pinot noir, has pro­duced a com­pelling wine; it would have been ab­surd not to in­clude it. It drinks well now, but will also cel­lar. At least six, if not a dozen, are in or­der. RRP $24 hod­dle­screekestate.com.au

2016 Flow­stone

Moon­milk Shi­raz Grenache

We rarely think of grenache when we think of Mar­garet River and yet, es­pe­cially when com­bined with shi­raz, it of­ten shines. This was made in a tiny quan­tity, which makes its price all the more note­wor­thy. While not a big wine, it is beau­ti­fully pol­ished, el­e­gant, stylish and more words along those lines. Okay, let’s add the word so­phis­ti­cated. RRP $22 flow­stonewines.com

2014 Yalumba Tri­an­gle Block Shi­raz

Some wines are for cel­lar­ing, some are for im­press­ing, others are for drink­ing. This is one of the lat­ter. It’s mid-weight at most, but it’s so fresh, vi­brant and inviting that you just want to keep div­ing in for more. Rasp­berry into plum, clove into mint, sweet spices straight down the hatch. This is shi­raz, pretty as a pic­ture. RRP $24 yalumba.com

2017 Gap­sted High Coun­try Tem­pranillo

Gap­sted’s wines of­ten made a splash a decade ago, but it’s been quiet of late; this wine (and others in the range) break the si­lence. This is ‘fill your boots’ ter­ri­tory for ev­ery­day drink­ing. Sim­ple, juicy fruit flavours served with ab­so­lute fresh­ness, not to men­tion verve. It will suit all com­ers. Drink­a­bil­ity writ large. RRP $20 gap­st­ed­wines.com.au

2017 Al­lies As­sem­blage Pinot Noir

It’s a great wine full stop, but given the six-pack price di­rect from the win­ery ($150) it’s a steal in pinot noir terms. The grapes are sourced from a va­ri­ety of Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula vineyards and blended here to pro­duce a com­plete wine – com­plex, de­li­cious, char­ac­ter­ful and then long through the fin­ish. All boxes ticked, cir­cled, high­lighted.

RRP $30 al­lies.com.au

2016 Ju­niper Es­tate Cross­ing Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon Mer­lot

It of­fers ‘just enough’ of ev­ery­thing, but also leans slightly to­wards the gen­er­ous side of the equa­tion. It’s a nice place for a wine to sit; like be­ing served the per­fect-sized slice of cake and then just steal­ing a lit­tle bit more. Pure ripe-berried fruit, rip­ples of fine-grained tan­nin, a layer of cedar­wood; it of­fers far more class than its ask­ing price sug­gests. RRP $22 ju­niper­estate.com.au

2016 An­devine Can­berra Dis­trict Shi­raz

It has Can­berra Dis­trict shi­raz writ­ten all over the palate – a very good thing – but more un­usu­ally it comes at an ex­cep­tion­ally mod­est price. Wow, this takes some beat­ing in the cool cli­mate af­ford­abil­ity stakes. Spice, cherry, plum, nut-like char­ac­ters and cleans­ing, cool, mouth­wa­ter­ing acid­ity. A beauty. RRP $22 an­devinewines.com.au

2014 Green­stone Es­tate Se­ries San­giovese

San­giovese with this kind of pres­ence is a rar­ity. This isn’t a wine of den­sity, but it still man­ages to make a real im­pres­sion, its savoury per­sona per­fectly com­ple­mented by ripe red/black cherry fruit flavours, its earth and cof­fee-like char­ac­ters neatly worked into the heart of the wine. There’s a sense of the ex­otic here. It’s more than just ‘a bit dif­fer­ent’; it stamps its feet for qual­ity. RRP $28 green­stonevine­yards.com.au

2016 Fether­ston Shi­raz

Truly amaz­ing value. Yarra Val­ley shi­raz, fussed over, fi­nessed, flashed with savoury com­plex­ity, whis­pered with oak and turned out in beau­ti­ful style. The fruit comes from a sin­gle vine­yard at Cold­stream, with 20% whole bunches in­cluded in the fer­ment, and made in minimal (200 dozen) quan­tity. The words “one of the best-value pro­duc­ers in the coun­try” were ut­tered af­ter tast­ing the cur­rent range.

RRP $25 fether­ston­wine.com

2016 Zonte’s Foot­step Black­berry Patch Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon

Here we go again with caber­net sau­vi­gnon rip­ping it up for value. In this case though, we have five per cent tem­pranillo in­cluded in the mix. This is a top-flight ex­am­ple of caber­net made in a bright and buoy­ant style, its blos­somy aro­mat­ics and boy­sen­ber­ried palate plac­ing se­duc­tion at the top of its am­bi­tions. For drink­ing right now, it of­fers a world of plea­sure. RRP $25 zon­tes­foot­step.com.au

se­lected by Camp­bell Mat­tin­son

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