An in-going strategy makes sense to get the most out of a large scale tasting event. So for this Barossa tasting I decided to focus on Grenache and Shiraz (obviously), and to taste mid-level wines rather than the most expensive ones. The reasons were one, to see if I could find an outstanding wine in this price category, and two, to avoid the highly extracted wines, which tend to be the expensive ones.
The best wine from this approach turned out to be the 2016 Spinifex Bête Noir. This is an elegant wine, smooth, and at peace with itself (94 points).
But then I deviated from my strategy, as I saw high end favorites, mid level was not available from certain producers, and top wines were simply put in my glass. So the best wines from this tasting ended up being expensive wines.
When it comes to Grenache, Cirillo is probably Australia's best producer, year after year. The 2013 Cirillo Ancestor Vine Grenache delivers the perfect mix of fruit weight, black fruit flavours over red and savoury notes (95 points). This old vineyard comes from the sandy floor of Vine Vale. It also delivers for Yalumba, who is next door. The 2017 Yalumba Carriage Block Grenache is much brighter, quite light and lifted, but not sweet (93 points).
Rolf Binder has needed many years to sort out his various brands and focus on the Rolf Binder label. Also detracted from his quality may have been the fact that he operated a contract operation for cheap blended wine at his winery. However, he has an outstanding vineyard behind the winery, and his best wines are never over extracted. His 2015 Heysen Shiraz is still quite closed, with its blackberry flavours leading to an elegant finish (94 points). The 2015 Hanisch is a bit more intense, yet still elegant with a long finish (95 points). This was my wine of the tasting.
Other wines I quite enjoyed at this tasting were the 2017 Hentley Farm Old Legend Grenache with smart oak treatment, and the 2015 Poonawatta 1880 Eden Valley Shiraz. Many other wines were close behind, as the focus has shifted from high alcohol and ripeness to elegance.