A few years back, the Australian Shiraz craze dominated the wine market. Crazy outlandish labels with big, chewy, masculine juice opened the doors to a world of consumers not taking life too seriously but still craving decent wine. Like any global region would do, these folks from the land down under exploited their resources to keep up with demand. Unfortunately, this led to overproduction and in some cases sacrificed quality. As a result, many of these wines did ironically go south. This past year, the famed “Bitch” wine died with the bankruptcy of The Grateful Palate importing company. Additionally, Aussies have faced the challenges of heat waves, fires, and a weakened global confidence in aging of the wines. Through all of these hurdles, a few notable regions are still producing exceptional varietals and Aussies and have successfully landed the #2 spot on Wine Spectator’s list for 2010. If we back track to the time period of Australia in the limelight, Justin Timberlake released a song that flooded the marketplaces as much as Shiraz. Today, I truly believe that Australia is bringing sexy back with some of their balanced, seductive, and revamped winemaking approaches. The wines mentioned below may truly be the “first drop” to a new era for Australia.
First Drop The Red One stands as the prologue to a line of progressively advanced expressions of the Shiraz and Cabernet grapes. Mentioned recently by Philly.com as a recommended value, this wine stands as one of the best under $10 bottles I have tasted in the last three years. While the majority of the composition as Cab and Shiraz, minor varietals such as Barbera, Tempranillo, Trincadeira, and Nebbiolo are added to the mix giving a balanced structure. A friendly wine with alluring, jammy qualities; this is a wine to open for the masses. It won’t confuse beginners or those with a matured palate, but rather will satisfy all those you are sharing with.
For a few extra bucks and a little more personality in the glass, give the First Drop Mother’s Milk series a shot. These wines not only stand to be appreciated but are produced to be drank as a necessity for any connoisseur. Mother’s Milk Shiraz stands as their baby of the entire portfolio… silky and velvety like Shiraz should be. I had the pleasure of tasting Mother’s Ruin McLaren Cab and Half n’ Half Shiraz/Monastrell for the first time yesterday. The Cab had a therapeutic effect while sipping; notes of eucalyptus, blackberries, and a slightly oaky finish.The blend of Shiraz and Monastrell represented the beauty that Australia is capable of. A wine that shows the strength of the Shiraz grape but also respects the subtleties that should exist in each glass.
For more reading on First Drop’s recognition see this article: