Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz 2005

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Australia does a good line in iconic Shiraz, one of the main reasons why I first fell in love with their wines in fact. It's nice as a wine lover to sample the very best that a country has to offer now and then if anything just to give yourself a benchmark with which to compare other wines to. The beauty of Australian wines is that, but for some uber icons such as Penfolds Grange, their iconic offerings of Shiraz tend to be very affordable indeed.

The McRae Wood 2005 retails for around £29.99 (available from Selfrides amongst others) and for that you can sample Aussie Shiraz pretty much as good as it gets. The story is the same with another icon, the Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz 2006 which wine critic Matthew Jukes awarded a score of 20/20. This retails for around £40. Trying to drink wines at a comparable level from Bordeaux or Burgundy for example would probably necessitate having to sell something very dear to you, such as a car or a kidney.....

It was in 1964 that Jim Barry purchased 70 acres of land from neighbour Duncan McRae Wood in Clare Valley and planted Shiraz vines on the land. If Jim were still alive today he'd probably be very glad he made this decision. I found myself chatting to Jim's grandson Tom a few years ago who spoke quite lovingly about the vineyard and its sheer potential for Shiraz. Tasting this wine its easy to see why.

Some people find Aussie Shiraz a little unbalanced. Sometimes the sheer strength of flavour can overwhelm but I don't think this is likely to offend many. Yes the flavours are big and bold and yes the blackberry and black cherry flavours do leap out of the glass, but its a balanced almost slightly restrained effort compared to some which never fails to impress. Simply put, it's excellent.

If you have a special occasion looming or just want something to stockpile to cheer yourself up during the impending winter months then I warmly recommend this. It's an iconic multi-award winning wine which never fails to put a smile on my face!