widely planted throughout North East Victoria where it has long been a major component in the area’s famous fortifieds, durif (a.k.a petite sirah) is at home across much of Australia. Late ripening, colossal tannins and its ability to handle oak make it the pinnacle choice for any lover of big reds. We blind-tasted 30 great examples: here’s our top 12.
2018 Eldorado Road Onyx Durif, Beechworth, A$37
Paul Dahlenburg and Lauretta Schulz are pushing the growing limits of durif at their cool Beechworth property, but the work is clearly paying dividends. This is a fine and layered durif with firm tannins and notes of rose petals, mulberries and sweet red fruits.
2018 Ballandean Durif, Granite Belt, A$42
Yet another reason we should all be getting around wines from Queensland’s Granite Belt. This is full-bodied but lean and fresh; vibrant and so full of life. Powerful black fruits are framed by intense mineral acidity and sheets of fresh, graphite-like tannin. So well done.
2018 Billy Button The Dapper Durif, Alpine Valleys, A$32
Jo Marsh has built a reputation championing the Alpine Valley’s myriad alternative varieties. This, sourced from Mt Buffalo in Porepunkah, nails the Billy Button brief of complex yet approachable and delicious. Sour cherry and marzipan flavours and an attractive bitterness on the finish. Fresh and lithe with great depth.
2018 Pfeiffer Durif, Rutherglen, A$32
Modern durif 101 from Jen Pfeiffer. Sourced from two Rutherglen vineyards, and matured in French and American oak, this is relatively light on its feet. Jubey and sweet-fruited with a fresh, waxy texture – and structured, too.
2018 Warrabilla Parola’s Limited Release Durif, Rutherglen, A$37
Winemaker Amy Sutherland-Smith and father Andrew have never been shy of crafting ‘big’ wines; it’s the Rutherglen way, after all. Here’s a great full-bodied durif with elegance; there’s plenty of liquorice and black fruit flavours, rounded out by puckery tannins.
2019 Pinelli Reserve Durif, Swan Valley, A$32
Sourced from the Swan Valley’s very first plantings of durif, this is an excitingly different (but not too different) take on the variety. It’s lean and fresh, with ripe berry fruits shaped by driving acidity and integrated tannins.
2020 Berton Vineyards Metal Label Durif, Riverina, A$14
Incredible value from the Riverina. It has all the dark chocolate and black fruits with pepper spice, pomegranate juice and cranberry flavours. Thick in texture but refreshing, too; pair with a hearty ragù and you’re set.
2018 Arlo Old Clone Durif, Rutherglen, A$29
Lennie Lister is the face behind Arlo Vintners, an exciting small-batch project breathing fresh life into the heavily traditional regions of Glenrowan and Rutherglen. This is pure and blue-fruited with velvety tannins. Light the charcoal, throw on a rib-eye and go forth.
2018 Jones Winery Durif, Rutherglen, A$40
From one of Rutherglen’s oldest producers, this is an exceptional example of what you could call Rutherglen table wine. Deep, dark black fruits, dried sweet cherry and tobacco undertones. It’s robust and full of integrity – perfect beside the fireplace.
2018 Scion Stems Durif, Rutherglen, A$45
Rowly Milhinch is one of Victoria’s most dynamic young winemakers, producing vibrant wines that pay homage to Rutherglen’s history. As per the brief, this is durif fermented with 85% whole bunches and wild yeast. It is crunchy, savoury and utterly delicious.
2019 Golden Grove Estate Durif, Granite Belt, A$35
Another example of why durif is so at home in Queensland’s Granite Belt. This just sits right. Fleshy, fresh and energetic, with morello cherry flavours and that classic Granite Belt minerality. Hard to stop at one glass.
2019 Baileys of Glenrowan Durif, Glenrowan, A$27
Baileys of Glenrowan have knocked it out of the park again with this release. The balance is just spot on. Bright red fruits, sweet stewed rhubarb, brightness and ripe black fig held together by structured tannins. Great value as always – and you can’t go past that label.