Have any of huge fruit / huge oak Aussie wines which got big scores from Parker back in 90s and early 2000s change their style to something more moderate?
Now that the market has shifted and there isn’t as much demand for that style of Shiraz (or is there? Tell me if I’m wrong), it seems to me that some of them might have adjusted to pick earlier, use less oak, extract less, and so forth. And if so, I’d be curious what the results are.
Honestly Chris you would be better off with the 100s of Aussie wineries that never chased big Parker scores in the first place. Kent Comley and Jeremy Holmes can give you heaps of suggestions.
I stopped buying the Aussies more than 10 years ago so am out of date
Fair point. Though so many of the wines you’re describing are not available in the US.
I wasn’t so much looking for shopping advice as curious whether any of them had retooled, or if they’re still following the old playbook.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but there are certainly plenty who have retooled. Think Hunter Valley, the likes of Tyrrell’s and Mount Pleasant have dropped the oak levels and producing more pure expressions these days. Barossa Valley / McLaren Vale still have those chasing the old style, albeit a little more restrained on the whole, but there’s plenty of movement with the new waves of producers really forgoing the heavy handed oak / over-extraction / over-working in the winery etc. So you can certainly find the stereotypical 90’s Aussie style around, but at the same time, I can’t recall a better time to get hold of high quality, low intervention Aussie wines that speak of their terroir.
There are also lots of excellent wines from Victoria and Margaret River.
Can’t give you specific examples Chris, but there were always different approaches in Australia. Remember, it’s a huge place with lots of diverse regions, some directly on the ocean with cold wind blowing up from the south pole. Last few years I’ve tasted maybe a few hundred and there are many that are worth looking at. Penfolds was never over the top but their prices have gone up astonishingly. Schild’s Cab is definitely not over the top - the last few I’ve tried were herbaceous and tannic.
I don’t have my notes in front of me at the moment, but from memory, you might want to look at some from Orange, which has some high-elevation vineyards, or Canberra, which also has some or Macedon Ranges, which I think is the highest elevation and is pretty cold. On the other side of Australia, you have Margaret River and a few other regions. The influence of the sea is much like that of Sonoma Coast, where there’s some cold wine coming in and a few miles proximity can make a real difference, as can the elevations.
A lot of Australian wine in the US was from the Barossa Valley, but there’s a lot more. As for Mollydooker and Henrey’s Drive, etc., I think those wines will always be what they are, since there’s a market for them. From the few I’ve tasted, they’re still the same and have not changed their style.