Reds in the spotlight for Ray Jordan’s Top 100 Subheading
With over 700 wines vying for Ray Jordan’s attention, sifting through every bottle of red to unearth 100 stand-out styles of 2023 was no easy victory. And this year in particular resulted in several stand-out styles and varietal highlights, with Grenache stealing the spotlight.
This year also saw Malbec transcending its role as a blending partner, emerging as a trend to look out for with its potential and allure. More renowned regions like Coonawarra and Barossa Valley made Ray’s hitlist with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz styles, with West Australian vineyards also delivering exceptional quality for 2023.
From Grenache to Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, we sat down with Ray to deep dive into the varietal highlights that took centre stage, as well as which wines missed the mark.
Q&A with Ray Jordan
Can you tell us about some of the stand-out varieties in this year’s tasting, that sparked your interest?
“In a tasting of 700 wines, there’s always going to be some highlights. Let’s look at the main varieties. Cabernet across the board was fabulous. Some really good West Australian Cabernets in there, but also as you’d imagine from some of the other regions like Coonawarra, like the Barossa, for instance. So some really good stuff from Cabernet.”
“And of course, Shiraz. Now Shiraz is that little Aussie bleeder, it’s everywhere. There were some wonderful examples at the top end, but also down in the value for money end was a fabulous range of Shiraz. It really captured the variety in its very many iterations, from the cooler climate through to the warmer, riper style. Very, very good variety.”
What was one of the varietal highlights from Western Australia?
“Grenache. Now this is a variety that’s come of age in the last 10 to 15 years and in this tasting, it was one of the standout varieties. In fact, for me, it was probably a highlight. The quality of Grenache is extraordinary in Australia. WA has really started to grab this as well. It’s being made in a slightly lighter style than used to be the case when it was big and heavy and they were trying to make Shiraz and call it Grenache, the Grenache that was featured here across the board. Really, really good. And I was excited by some of those wines.”
Were there any distinct varietals trends to watch out for, and if so, what made them so exceptional?
“Now Malbecs is a variety that a lot of people may not be familiar with, but you’ve probably drunk a bit of it as it’s often used as a blending variety with Cabernet in particular. But in this tasting, there were a lot of varietal Malbecs being produced. And this seems to be a trend in recent years that people are saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got some pretty good wine here,’ so is a pretty good variety.”
“Traditionally it is ripe, juicy red fruit, plenty in it, and the Malbec that they generally tended to be in that slightly higher price point. But they were very, very good. And it’s a variety that people should look out for as distinct from say, Merlot, which on its own perhaps fell a little bit short.”
Do you have any takeaways from this year’s Top 100 tasting to share?
“The West Australian wine industry is well-positioned for the future and the quality for this year was truly exceptional. The quality is getting better and it‘s always exciting to taste so many really good examples of Australian red wines for under $40.”