1998 Tahbilk Shiraz, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria Australia

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Australian Shiraz went through a wild ride a few years ago thanks in part to colorful labels and inexpensive, fruit forward jammy wines.  In recent years Spain, Chile and Argentina have been capturing the attention of wine drinkers in the U.S. using a similar approach—affordable wines that are ready to drink now.  It seems Australian wines have been left behind.

Australia is not a one trick pony, however.  Sure, Shiraz drove exports to the U.S. for years but Australia has so much more to offer, and it's still affordable.  Take this Shiraz from Tahbilk for example.  Located in Nagambie deep in the heart of Victoria, Tahbilk is known for making lean European style reds and claims to have the largest Marsanne planting in the world.  In 2010, Tahbilk celebrated 150 years of wine making.

For about $15-20 you can get a bottle of Tahbilk Shiraz, but what you'd really be getting is something that resembles a "baby Grange" kind of wine.  Baby Grange is the name often given to Penfold's Bin 389 in part because some of the same barrels are used on legendary Grange and Bin 389.  Penfold's Grange is one of the most iconic wines of Australia resembling more of a First Growth than a standard Shiraz.  What makes Grange so good is the style in which it's made.  It actually needs time to come together, but when it does you get many of the leather shoe notes found in Bordeaux rather than Shiraz.

The 1998 Tahbilk Shiraz was showing off some old leather shoe and cedar notes without being "hot" or too jammy.  Tahbilk makes a decidedly more European style of wine that's not what Australian Shiraz is known for.  With 12 years of age, this baby is right in its drinking window, and it's got a few years of life ahead.