Shiraz, the Australian name for Syrah, is the leading red variety Down Under — producing everything from inexpensive, fruity wines for everyday drinking to more structured, elegant examples that evolve with age.
While Shiraz is grown in every wine area of Australia, some of the best come from the small McLaren Vale region in the state of South Australia. Among them is the 2018 Basket Pressed Shiraz from Kay Brothers, which was established in 1890 and is one of the oldest wineries in McLaren Vale.
The $40 wine shows a superb combination of lush fruit, vibrant acidity, balanced oak, and smooth tannins. Even with alcohol at a hefty 14.5 percent, it doesn’t feel heavy on the palate. It evolves nicely in the glass, starting with cranberry and pomegranate tastes. Then, a blackberry note emerges, punctuated by herb, black olive, and mineral touches.
It all but screams out for meat, such as leg of lamb or skirt steak slightly charred on the grill. Fifteen minutes in the fridge will make it even more refreshing in the summer heat.
Australia penetrated the U.S. market decades ago, largely with inexpensive, fruit-forward Shiraz, Chardonnay, and other varieties. Unfortunately, the reputation stuck, and many Americans moved on. Wines like Kay Brothers’ Basket Pressed Shiraz remind us that there is much more dimension to Australia to be explored.