The famous 'hunter river burgundy' wines of the mid-20th century consisted of medium-bodied, shiraz-based reds, often blended with pinot noir to lift aromatics, boost tannin and deliver structure in the warmer years. Now, producers around the country are paying homage to this classic Aussie blend with wines defined by freshness, approachability, character and complexity.
2019 Giant Steps LDR, Yarra Valley, A$35
Red cherry, licorice, purple mid-tone notes, plus violets and black pepper. The texture's glossy with persistence and glide; flavours of red fruits, maraschino cherries and licorice, all framed by supple tannins and vibrant acidity.
2018 Lignée Shiraz Pinot Noir, Hunter Valley/Orange, A$90/1500ml
A collaboration between young winemakers Angus Vinden and Will Gilbert. The savoury, raspberry characters of Hunter shiraz meld so well with the pinot's cherry, earthy nuttiness. Only 400 magnums were bottled, but word has it there are still a few kicking around.
2018 Mount Pleasant Mount Henry Shiraz Pinot Noir, Hunter Valley, A$35
Mount Pleasant’s pinot noir vines hark from cuttings of James Busby’s original collection in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens. Raspberry and blackberry flavours with fresh herbs, spicy oak, tart yet saline acidity, and firm, savoury tannins.
2018 Murdoch Hill Falcon Syrah Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, A$40
From 2017 GTW Young Winemaker of the Year Michael Downer, this wine shows game meat, black pepper, thyme and fragrant citrus rind. It's cool and juicy with fresh whole-bunch characters, and is dangerously easy to drink.
2019 Nick Spencer Light Dry Red, Gundagai, A$30
Is there a greater advocate for Gundagai wine than Nick Spencer? This is an energetic blend of pinot noir, sangiovese and shiraz showing dark berry fruits, cherry stone and herbal characters framed by a distinct mineral feel.
2018 The Other Wine Co Shiraz Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills, A$26
From Shaw + Smith's 'other' label, this wine is all about the black fruits: plum, blackcurrant and cherry with floral notes of violet. It has dusty, puckering tannins and driving, mouth-watering acidity.
2019 Pepper Tree Limited Release Shiraz Pinot Noir, Orange, A$25
Gwyn Olsen of Pepper Tree looked to Orange for this preservative-free, vegan-friendly blend. Aromas of tar, dense black fruits, violets and forest berries lead to a silken, mid-weight palate with crunchy acidity.
2019 Port Phillip Estate Pinot Noir Shiraz, Mornington Peninsula, A$34
From Port Phillip Estate's Red Hill vineyard, this 50/50 blend shows red cherries, blackcurrant leaf, earth and cherry juice. The palate is savoury and slightly stemmy, with earthy notes underpinned by the dense black plum flavours and dusty but subtle tannins.
2019 Tyrrell’s Special Release Shiraz Pinot Noir, Hunter Valley, A$35
Lifted aromas of raspberry and iodine, purple flowers and some ferrous characters. The fruit weight is plush and breezes through the palate but doesn’t override the lithe tannin framework and crisp acidity.
2019 Usher Tinkler Nose to Tail Red, Hunter Valley, A$30
A silky wine with a core of raspberry, cherry and cranberry fruit framed by meaty savouriness, tart acidity and super fine tannins. A modern embodiment of this classic blend. Get out the charcuterie plate – ideally at Usher Tinkler’s cellar door … when we can go out.
2018 Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown Pret-a-Rouge, Beechworth, A$30
A light- to medium-bodied blend of pinot noir, shiraz and sangiovese from revered Beechworth proponents Tessa Brown and Jeremy Schmölzer. It's defined by texture but isn't short on flavour, with forest berries, cola, earth and grilled meats framed by a saline, mineral element and fine, silty tannins.
2019 Yarra Yering Light Dry Red, Yarra Valley, A$95
This beautiful wine is a lesson in understated elegance so typical of Sarah Crowe’s handiwork. Aromas of red and black cherry, sweet violets and black olive. Medium-bodied with flavours of blackcurrant, charry oak and lots of fresh red berries, with cranberry-like acidity and peppery tannins.