It wouldn't be a Happy Australia Day! without some of Australia's finest Shiraz to help the party along, and so we gathered on a cold New York winter's evening to celebrate, several hours after the last Australian pub crawl finished back Down Under. These were my three favourites on the night, not coincidentally, all from excellent vintages in their respective regions.
Glaetzer Amon-Ra Shiraz 2006
Glaetzer were established in 1995 by Colin Glaetzer, who had made his name at Barossa Valley Estate. Since his son Ben joined the business the winery has enjoyed tremendous success, led by the new flagship wine Amon-Ra, first made in 2001. Although initially treated with suspicion due to Amon-Ra's 'cult' status, the winery has now established itself as a serious player with a string of successful wines. Grapes are sourced from long-established producers around the Ebenezer sub-region. The 2006 Amon-Ra is a superb wine, rich and opulent without straying into jammy territory. It is still very youthful, so a couple of hours in a decanter is probably called for, or sitting on it for another 10 years wouldn't hurt either.
Mitolo GAM Shiraz 2002
There are plenty of similarities to Glaetzer at Mitolo, where Frank Mitolo started the winery in 1999 and soon tapped Ben Glaetzer to get his vision off the ground. The G.A.M. Shiraz was first made in 2000, and helped by the budding reputation of Ben, was quickly elevated into the aura of 'cult' wines with the help of some big scores from Robert Parker, along with sibling wines Serpico, Savitar and Reiver.. Named after Frank's children, Gemma, Alexander and Marco, the G.A.M. is made from McLaren Vale grapes from the Chinese Block vineyard. the 2002 vintage benefited from a cool summer, and shows typically pure fruit, even as secondary characters develop with the wine now at full maturity.
Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz 1998
Dalwhinnie is somewhat of a veteran by comparison with the vineyard established back in 1976 in the Pyrenees (named in 1836 after the European range), 200km west of Melbourne. The winery benefits from its elevation, making the Moonambel Shiraz distinctive in the evening's line-up, although the age was also a factor. For those reasons it was probably my favourite on the evening, as the herb and spice complexity married well with most of the food, while the more youthful South Australian wines tended to overshadow proceedings.