The pendulum of style swings swiftly in the world of Australian wine.\r\nChardonnay, once broad and richly oaked, swung toward slimness and finesse, then rebounded to become fleshy yet refined\u2014all in just the last decade.\r\n\r\nShiraz hasn\u2019t been immune to change, either. Momentum had been building for cool-climate Shiraz when Glaetzer-Dixon\u2019s 2010 Mon P\u00e8re Shiraz from Tasmania won the Jimmy Watson Trophy in 2011. Given annually by the Royal Melbourne Wine Show to the country\u2019s best one-year-old red wine, the award had been long dominated by big, voluptuous South Australian offerings. The selection of Mon P\u00e8re crystallized in the minds of the wine-drinking public that wines favoring perfume and spice over ripeness and weight could receive critical acclaim.\r\n\r\nFor Americans, insulated by the three-tiered system of wine distribution (importer-wholesaler-retailer) and the market dominance of a single volume brand, this evolution has been harder to follow. Much as fashion trends in Peoria trail Paris, the styles of Australian Shiraz available in the U.S. are just catching up.\r\n\r\nThat makes right now an exciting time for wine buyers. Blessed with an influx of soulful offerings, there\u2019s no better time to get (re)acquainted with Shiraz.\r\nThe Groundwork\r\nShiraz is the same grape variety as Syrah, which has its origins in France\u2019s northern Rh\u00f4ne Valley. It\u2019s not related to the city in Iran, as some fanciful tales suggest, but likely a simple bastardization of its original name.\r\n\r\nAs Europeans colonized Australia, they brought vine cuttings with them, chief among them some known as \u201cHermitage\u201d (Syrah). These were first propagated for commercial winemaking in the early to mid-19th century.\r\n\r\nBecause the introduction came before the American vine louse phylloxera struck Europe, the vines brought over were ungrafted. And unlike most winegrowing regions, large portions of Australia remain phylloxera-free, meaning the vines grow on their own roots and have life spans that can exceed 100 years.\r\n\r\nThese gnarled old vines are impressive to see; rows of weathered hands reaching skyward out of the dusty landscape. They reach for our hearts, too, as there\u2019s a romantic (if debatable) notion to the idea that old vines make better wines.\r\n\r\n\r\nBarossa Bombshells\r\nStandish 2012 Andelmonde Shiraz (Barossa Valley); $95, 97 points. You may have to scour the country to secure some of this (only 14 cases were imported), but this is a treasure worth the search. It\u2019s full-bodied without seeming overly rich or heavy, framing the lush notes of dark berries, grilled meat, mint and licorice with supple tannins. Spice-driven flavors linger elegantly on the lengthy finish. It\u2019s delicious now, but should age gracefully through 2030. Epicurean Wines. Cellar Selection.\r\n\r\nTorbreck 2012 RunRig Shiraz-Viognier (Barossa); $255, 97 points. RunRig is always complex, and the 2012 doesn\u2019t disappoint in that regard, mixing meaty bacon-like notes with hints of black olives and ripe plums. The tannins are supremely supple, but the acids are crisp, which result in a long, mouthwatering finish. Drink through 2030. Wine Creek.\r\n\r\nThorn-Clarke 2012 Ron Thorn Single Vineyard Shiraz (Barossa); $89, 96 points. Thorn-Clarke has taken its Shiraz to a new level with this single-vineyard wine, bottled only in exceptional vintages. The 100% new American oak gives this a classic Barossa profile, starting with vanilla, cedar and maple syrup-like notes and flowing seamlessly through ripe blackberry and plum flavors. It\u2019s full-bodied, lush and creamy in texture, with a long, velvety finish. Drink through 2025, and possibly beyond. Kysela P\u00e8re et Fils. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\nHunting for Old Vines\r\nSome of the country\u2019s oldest vineyards lie in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, not far from Sydney. It\u2019s not prototypical grape-growing country there. It\u2019s warmer and wetter than ideal, but those facts appealed to early settlers who relied on mixed farming for subsistence.\r\n\r\nWithin the Hunter, no one has more of a link to the land and its vines than Bruce Tyrrell, whose family has been making wine here since 1864. Visitors can see the original ironbark homestead from 1858 and enjoy tastings in the original winery.\r\n\r\nTyrrell has made it his mission to map and save the region\u2019s oldest vines, now owning several blocks that were planted more than 100 years ago. The oldest patch of vines owned by the family\u20144 Acre Block\u2014was planted in 1879.\r\n\u201cI don\u2019t think old vines make great wines. I think great sites make old vines.\u201d \u2014Jim Chatto\r\nBecause of the rains that often threaten come vintage, Hunter Valley Shiraz isn\u2019t prone to stylistic swings. When the forecast calls for rain, the grapes are picked, often at potential alcohol levels of only about 12 percent.\r\n\r\nThis early picking shapes the resulting wines into a style that can be taut, austere and bracing when young. Yet, they evolve gracefully into midweight elegance within five to eight years.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey\u2019re medium-bodied, savory, with acid more important than alcohol,\u201d says Tyrrell. \u201cMost years, you don\u2019t want to be at 14 percent alcohol.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe Hunter\u2019s most legendary wines, those crafted by Maurice O\u2019Shea at Mount Pleasant Wines from the 1920s through his death in 1956, bore such designations as \u201cLight Dry Red,\u201d without mention of the grape variety.\r\n\r\n\u201cThat\u2019s the old Hunter Burgundy style,\u201d says Jim Chatto, chief winemaker for \u00adMcWilliam\u2019s Family Winemakers, the owners of Mount Pleasant since 1941 (and partners in it since 1932). \u201cWe\u2019re looking at what we did well in the \u201940s, \u201950s and \u201960s, and trying to get back to that.\u201d\r\n\r\nVintage 2014 was \u201ca ripper,\u201d as they say in the Hunter. As we taste the Rosehill Vineyard (planted 1946) and Old Hill Vineyard (planted 1880) Shirazes, Chatto says, \u201cThey have those chamois tannins you only get in really old vines.\u201d\r\n\r\nThen, in the next breath, he says, \u201cI don\u2019t think old vines make great wines. I think great sites make old vines.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nMcLaren Vale Victors\r\nKay Brothers 2012 Amery Vineyard Block 6 Shiraz (McLaren Vale); $120, 96 points. This full-bodied, muscular Shiraz is built for the ages. Baking spices and plummy fruity form a concentrated, nearly impenetrable wall on the nose, while the palate is nearly dense enough to stand a fork in. Despite all that, it\u2019s not overly heavy or fudge-like, instead offering tremendous poise, purity and length. Drink 2020\u201330, and likely then some. Quintessential Wines. Cellar Selection.\r\n\r\nAngove 2013 The Medhyk Old Vine Shiraz (McLaren Vale); $95, 94 points. Selected from four sites planted 40\u201360 years ago, this is a full-bodied, muscular, rich Shiraz. Roast-beef notes provide savory counterpoints to ripe plum, chocolate and mint. Long, firm and focused on the finish, where it picks up some mocha nuances. Drink through 2030. Trinchero Family Estates.\r\n\r\nFox Creek 2013 Reserve Shiraz (McLaren Vale); $83, 94 points. Fresh mint and cracked pepper accent dark plummy fruit on the nose, picking up hints of dark chocolate and black olive on the palate. It\u2019s full-bodied, creamy in feel and loaded with supple tannins, which make the wine approachable now, but should sustain it through at least 2025. Kysela P\u00e8re et Fils.\r\n\r\nHickinbotham 2013 Brooks Road Shiraz (McLaren Vale); $75, 94 points. As Australian vineyards go, this isn\u2019t that old, having been planted in 1971. Chocolate and vanilla shadings frame bowls of mixed berries in this full-bodied, powerful wine. It finishes long and intense, outlined by dusty tannins. Majestic Imports.\r\nClimbing Higher\r\nGetting up and away from the warm, wet climate of the Hunter is one way to find these better sites.\r\n\r\nChris Hancock, deputy executive chairman of Robert Oatley Wines, recalls the beginning of the shift. \u201cBack in the \u201970s [with Rosemount], we were sourcing Shiraz from Mudgee to blend in with Hunter. They were darker, more powerful wines,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nOther New South Wales winemakers saw the same thing, and started to gravitate toward higher-elevation vineyards in the regions of Orange, Hilltops and the Canberra District. Philip Shaw, former chief winemaker of Rosemount, purchased his vineyard in Orange in 1988.\r\n\u201cThere\u2019s been an evolution in Australian Shiraz. It\u2019s a style of Shiraz that didn\u2019t really exist 20 years ago.\u201d\u2014Jason Brown\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re trying to show off an elegant style of Shiraz\u2014medium-bodied, with spice and pepper,\u201d says his son, Daniel Shaw, who\u2019s taken over the day-to-day winemaking.\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s a trend throughout Australia, as winemakers increasingly search for what Shaw calls \u201cdrinkability.\u201d\r\n\r\nGenerally speaking, that means less weight, alcohol, oak and extraction.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere\u2019s been an evolution in Australian Shiraz,\u201d says Jason Brown, owner of Moppity Vineyards in the Hilltops region of New South Wales. \u201cIt\u2019s a style of Shiraz that didn\u2019t really exist 20 years ago.\u201d\r\n\r\nAt Moppity, Brown farms eight different vineyard blocks planted to five clones of Shiraz, plus a little Viognier.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat we\u2019re trying to do is to let the site speak,\u201d he says. \u201cThe tannin structure in Hilltops tends to be quite supple and refined.\u201d\r\n\r\nAround the Australian capital of Canberra, it\u2019s a similar story, although the history goes back a little further.\r\n\r\nAt Clonakilla, owner Tim Kirk\u2019s father planted the vineyard\u2014one of the first in the region\u2014in 1971. Located inland and sitting almost 2,000 feet above sea level, it\u2019s a cool region by Australian standards, subject to snow in winter and frosts that limit the growing season.\r\n\r\nKirk is an unabashed fan of the Northern Rh\u00f4ne. He even took his bride there on their delayed honeymoon in 1991. At Guigal, he says, \u201cThey [the wines] blew my mind.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBased on that C\u00f4te-R\u00f4tie experience, Kirk came back determined to try Viognier with his Syrah. Clonakilla\u2019s 1994 release included 4 percent of the white variety, and it was the first time that grape combination appeared on the label. The Clonakilla Shiraz-Viognier is now an Australian classic.\r\n\r\nTasting through samples of his latest vintages, I\u2019m struck by how the Viognier evolves over time to become one with the wine as a whole. Its Muscat-like perfume sticks out a bit in the tank sample of the 2015, but it\u2019s less overt in the 2014 and only perceptible in the 2013 by virtue of the glossy texture it brings to the palate.\r\n\r\nPractically next door to Clonakilla, Nick Spencer, the winemaker for Eden Road, is pursuing a similar style, but without Viognier.\r\n\r\n\u201cCanberra Shiraz has that lovely fruit and spice,\u201d he says. \u201cWe\u2019re after purity and perfume.\u201d\r\n\r\nTo capture and preserve these characters, his Murrumbateman wines (the subregion of Canberra District that surrounds Eden Road and Clonakilla) are fermented using indigenous yeasts and mature in 500-liter puncheons rather than traditional barriques.\r\n\r\nThose techniques are becoming trendy among forward-thinking winemakers in cool subregions, along with varying proportions of whole-bunch fermentation. It\u2019s a reaction to the high-alcohol, dead-fruit monsters of the late 1990s, which, Kirk calls, \u201ca real dark point in Australian wine history.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nSouth Australia Specials\r\nWakefield Estate 2013 St. Andrews Single Vineyard Release Shiraz (Clare Valley); $60, 95 points. The Taylor family selected Clare Valley for its Cabernet affinity, but this Shiraz is a knockout. Yes, it\u2019s oaky\u2014full of menthol, vanilla and toasted coconut\u2014but there\u2019s just enough black cherry and plum fruit to support the wood. It\u2019s a plush, full-bodied wine with immense appeal, for drinking through 2025. Seaview Imports. Editors\u2019 Choice.\r\n\r\nHenry\u2019s Drive Vignerons 2012 Magnus Shiraz (Padthaway); $80, 94 points. This wine is fleshy and seductive, with irresistible layers of smoke, mint and plum. It\u2019s full-bodied, creamy in texture and lush, staying supple through the long, charming finish. Drink through 2025. Quintessential Wines.\r\nPushing Boundaries\r\nIn Victoria, some winemakers are even going for 100 percent whole-bunch fermentations.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt adds playfulness to Shiraz,\u201d says Dylan McMahon, winemaker at Seville Estate in the Yarra Valley and grandson of the winery\u2019s founder. \u201cIt increases perfume and adds dynamic complexity.\u201d\r\n\r\nSeville\u2019s Doctor Shiraz is exclusively whole-bunch and barrel-fermented in 500-liter puncheons. It takes some work to pull a must sample from the newly filled barrel, as most of the berries haven\u2019t burst yet, but the partially fermented juice is already complex.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s dusty, it\u2019s earthy\u2014it tastes like the soil, I suppose,\u201d says McMahon.\r\n\r\nThe Yarra Valley\u2019s first stars were Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Champagne house Mo\u00ebt & Chandon chose the region for its sparkling wine production. But current hits include Shiraz from such producers as Luke Lambert, Mac Forbes and Jamsheed.\r\n\r\n\u201cMy interest is Syrah,\u201d says Gary Mills, the driving force behind Jamsheed. \u201cIt\u2019s so widely planted it can really reflect the diversity of what Australia has to offer. Victoria is about spice, perfume, raciness and lightness.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhile there\u2019s agreement among winemakers in the region that the days of chasing alcohol and extraction are over, there\u2019s still plenty of room for individual styles.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhole bunch has become a regional characteristic for Yarra,\u201d says Sarah Crowe, winemaker at Yarra Yering, perhaps the best known of the region\u2019s historic wineries. Yet Crowe, a fixture on the wine-show judging circuit, also says she prefers the subtlety of 20 percent whole bunch.\r\n\r\n\r\nHunter Valley Standards\r\nTyrrell\u2019s 2014 Shiraz (Hunter Valley); $25, 92 points. The Tyrrell family was excited about its 2014s when I visited there earlier this year, and this suggests the enthusiasm is well founded. The aromas are fresh and floral, loaded with cherry-berry fruit and a hint of cracked pepper. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied and supple, with a long, peppery, silky finish. Broadbent Selections Inc.\r\n\r\nBrokenwood 2013 Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz (Hunter Valley); $125, 91 points. This wine was inadvertently tasted against a bunch of Barossa giants, so I may have underestimated it. It still held its own, delivering subtle notes of plum, cinnamon and clove, plus hints of olive and mocha. It\u2019s medium in body with some herbal notes, yet finishes dusty and mouthwatering. Drink through 2028. Old Bridge Cellars. Cellar Selection.\r\n\r\nHope Estate 2013 Basalt Block Shiraz (Hunter Valley); $15, 90 points. This is already showing some evolution in its color, displaying some lightening at its rim. The aromas are floral and tea-like, with subtle cinnamon and spice shadings. The flavors follow along, resembling Wild Berry Zinger tea. It\u2019s medium in weight, with silky tannins and a softly dusty finish. Winesellers Ltd. Best Buy.\r\nVictorian Tastes\r\nYarra may be the epicenter of Victorian experimentation, but great Shiraz is grown in nearly every part of the state, and has been for well over a century.\r\n\r\nTahbilk, in the Nagambie Lakes region, was developed as a winery in the 1860s. Fruit from the oldest plantings goes into the winery\u2019s flagship 1860 Vines Shiraz. Planted on a sandy site, those vines survived phylloxera to currently yield 100 to 200 cases of wine per year.\r\n\r\nWinemaking at Tahbilk is conservative. It avoids trendy whole bunches and takes place in the winery\u2019s original Polish oak vats. The old-vine fruit then ages in 50 percent new French oak, but most lots are aged in old, neutral casks. It\u2019s an approach that mirrors the historic nature of the property.\r\n\u201cAromatic range comes from time on the vine, so you need cool climates. It\u2019s a perpetually evolving experimentation.\u201d \u2014Ben Haines\r\nIt\u2019s a safe, low-risk practice that couldn\u2019t be more different from that in place at Savaterre, founded in 1996 by foreign-exchange broker-turned-winemaker Keppell Smith.\r\n\r\nIn his former career, Smith says, \u201cI learned wine wasn\u2019t the shit my mom would drink with dinner,\u201d who set out to find a place where he could make the good stuff. He settled on Beechworth, a historic gold-mining area in the foothills of the Victorian Alps.\r\n\r\nHe ferments his Shiraz using indigenous yeasts and native malolactic bacteria. He doesn\u2019t filter and opts for about 60 percent whole bunches.\r\n\r\n\u201cPeople either love it or hate it,\u201d says Smith of his style. \u201cIt\u2019s a bit dirty.\u201d\r\nGood Granite\r\nBeechworth\u2019s Shirazes are among the most compelling examples in Australia and some of the hardest to track down. Castagna and Giaconda are the other two names to seek out. The region\u2019s decomposed granite soils give something special to the wines, and the growers have a commitment to quality and nonintervention.\r\n\r\n\u201cPower, concentration and multiple layers of complexity\u201d are the traits that define Beechworth, says Nathan Kinz\u00adbrunner, whose father, Rick, came to the region to establish Giaconda in 1981. \u201cBeechworth allows us to build a lot of finesse into the wines,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\nBen Haines, the winemaker for Grampians stalwart Mount Langi Ghiran, has his own label that he uses to explore various Victorian subregions.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019d be lying if I said I wasn\u2019t inspired by some of the great wines of the Northern Rh\u00f4ne,\u201d he says. \u201cBut you have to make the wines true to their place.\u201d\r\n\r\nAccording to Haines, \u201cAromatic range comes from time on the vine, so you need cool climates. It\u2019s a perpetually evolving experimentation.\u201d\r\n\r\nThat alleged need for cool climates must\u2019ve been lost on the original European settlers of South Australia. They flowed through Adelaide into McLaren Vale and the Barossa in the early to mid-19th century. Those regions are better known for their bold, sun-drenched Shiraz than for delicacy or finesse.\r\n\r\nYet, even in the heartland of big Shiraz, style is evolving.\r\n\r\nAs Roman Bratasiuk, owner of Clarendon Hills says, \u201cWe\u2019re always refining. We\u2019re picking earlier. Some of the wines were high alcohol, which some people may have liked, but I\u2019m being truer to my own palate.\u201d\r\n\r\nEven at tradition-loving Kay Brothers, where grapes are still run through a basket press from 1928, things are changing.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe wheel is turning,\u201d says Colin Kay, third-generation director of the family business. \u201cWe\u2019re cutting back on new oak.\u201d\r\n\r\nThat\u2019s decidedly not the case at Mollydooker\u2019s modern facility in McLaren Vale, where the top Shirazes (Carnival of Love and Velvet Glove) are picked superripe and mature in new American oak. It\u2019s a style that possesses immense appeal in the market, but seems out of step, despite the revolutionary viticulture that drives it.\r\n\r\nAt Mollydooker, it\u2019s all about technique. That includes everything from the staff\u2019s quirky habit of shaking hands lefty to juice tastings aimed at measuring \u201cfruit weight\u201d and the \u201cMollydooker shake,\u201d performed on just-opened bottles and meant to supercharge the wine\u2019s performance in the glass.\r\n\r\n\r\nHeathcote Highs\r\nJasper Hill 2013 Georgia\u2019s Paddock Shiraz (Heathcote); $85, 95 points. Dusty. Firm. Powerful. Just a few apt descriptors for this vintage of one of Heathcote\u2019s top wines. Mocha, licorice and blackberries feature on the nose, while the palate delivers more of the same\u2014dark fruit, chocolate and plenty of spice. Best after 2020. Old Bridge Cellars. Cellar Selection.\r\n\r\nTournon by Michel Chapoutier 2012 Lady\u2019s Lane Vineyard (Heathcote); $61, 91 points. This starts off slowly, but red raspberry notes emerge after some vigorous swirling. It\u2019s full-bodied and supple, featuring some berry-tea-like flavors, hints of cocoa and a fine, softly dusty finish. Drink it over the next 10 years. Craft + Estate\u2014The Winebow Group.\r\nPreserving Tradition\r\nIt\u2019s a decidedly different scene at Rockford in the Barossa Valley, where the 1880s-era destemmer limits the winery throughput, according to Chief Winemaker Ben Radford. The basket press, for which Rockford\u2019s Shiraz is named, is from the 1890s. Just 10 percent or less new oak is used for aging the wines.\r\n\r\nRockford and its owner, Robert O\u2019Callaghan (better known as Rocky), are famous for supporting local vine growers through the community\u2019s tough times of the 1980s. While the government was paying growers to rip out their \u201csurplus\u201d old vines, O\u2019Callaghan and Peter Lehmann were paying the growers for their grapes.\r\n\r\nRockford still doesn\u2019t own any vineyards, choosing to honor its history by continuing to purchase fruit from dozens of individual growers through the Barossa and Eden valleys. Between the quality of the wines and the local community support, 96 percent of the winery\u2019s volume is sold direct. If you find a stray bottle in the U.S., give it a try.\r\n\r\nOver the years, Rockford has served as an incubator for young winemaking talent, but one of its first alumni was a bricklayer. Michael Waugh helped O\u2019Callaghan rebuild the rundown Rockford buildings before Waugh launched his Greenock Creek label with the 1984 vintage.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen I first bought, there were 30 wineries,\u201d Waugh says. \u201cNow, there are 140.\u201d\r\n\r\nAt Greenock Creek, there\u2019s a resolute belief in dry-grown vines. Winemaking is old school: Everything is destemmed, acid-adjusted to a pH of 3.6 or less, fermented in small, open-top bins and aged predominantly in American oak for 28 months.\r\n\r\nThe results are incredibly true to their roots. It\u2019s possible to taste differences between the various single-vineyard wines, and they all faithfully reflect vintage conditions. In hot years, the wines can be warm and high in alcohol, whereas they tend to have better balance in cooler, more even-ripening years.\r\n\r\n\r\nYarra Valley Elegance\r\nInnocent Bystander 2014 Mea Culpa Syrah (Yarra Valley); $60, 93 points. Sourced from the Tarraford Vineyard (better known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) this is a floral, aromatic wine. Notes of green peppercorns and pipe tobacco ease into raspberry fruit, made more complex through whole-bunch fermentation. The wine\u2019s silky texture is an added treat. This has the potential to be really interesting as it evolves through at least 2025. Old Bridge Cellars. abv: 14%\u00a0\u00a0 \u00a0Price: $60\r\n\r\nYarra Yering 2010 Underhill Shiraz (Yarra Valley); $90, 93 points. This medium-bodied wine features a hint of cracked pepper on the nose, then eases into a range of notes covering spice, plum and cigar box. Dural Wines.\r\n\r\nBen Haines 2013 Under Woods Steels Creek Shiraz (Yarra Valley); $55, 92 points. Meaty and savory, this is surprisingly full-bodied and supple for a Yarra Valley Syrah. Blackberry and spice notes balance out the meatiness, imparting a bright, mouthwatering juiciness to the long finish. Little Peacock Importers.\r\nThe \u201cNew\u201d Barossa\r\nUp the road, sixth-generation grower Damien Tscharke may represent another facet of the Barossa story, but his views reflect the importance of getting harvest dates just right in this warm climate, basing them on tannin maturity and acid retention.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve never had any regrets for picking early, only too late,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\nAs a young man crafting surprisingly affordable wines in the Barossa, Tscharke wields important influence on perceptions of the region.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s easy in warm climates to make big black wines that are easy to admire but hard to drink,\u201d he says. \u201cWe want elegance. We want balance. We want wines that are drinkable even in the warmer years.\u201d\r\n\r\nIn his Cornas-inspired 2014 Estate Shiraz, that\u2019s achieved through earlier picking and the inclusion of 30 percent whole bunches. The result is a slightly funky, black olive-laden wine that marries silk and velvet.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou need to appreciate it for what it is, not what Barossa often is,\u201d says Tscharke.\r\n\r\nHe sums up his views on winemaking succinctly: \u201cA winemaker\u2019s job is not about trying to create something special, it\u2019s about not [expletive] it up.\u201d\r\n\r\nAnother sixth-generation Barossan making waves is Dan Standish, whose family history in grape growing goes back to 1848. He started The Standish Wine Company in 1999, while he was working at Torbeck, but has been on his own since 2005. His focus is on dry-grown, single-vineyard Shiraz.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn \u201916, I worked with 15 vineyards,\u201d he says. \u201cI\u2019ll probably bottle four or five. Average yields are a half-ton per acre. In a great year, we might hit the 1,000-case mark.\u201d\r\n\r\nAt those yields, prices start around $90 per bottle. Yet, for its quality, that price still represents solid value. The fruit is handpicked and not inoculated, with a lot of whole bunches retained.\r\n\r\n\u201cIf you pick up a glass and you smell the whole bunch, it\u2019s too much,\u201d says Standish. \u201cI like to pick early to retain natural acidity. The challenge here is to get some finesse into the wines.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Elephants in the Room\r\nKnowledgeable readers will have noticed that Australia\u2019s two most famous wines aren\u2019t really part of this story. That\u2019s because Penfolds Grange and Henschke\u2019s Hill of Grace stand apart from and above the style debate.\r\n\r\nGrange is always a blended wine, nearly always includes fruit from different parts of South Australia, and incorporates Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to Shiraz. Created by Max Schubert in the early 1950s, it\u2019s a wine of enormous power and extraction that\u2019s made to age for decades.\r\n\r\nHill of Grace is a single-vineyard Shiraz from the Eden Valley. First planted in the 1860s, those vines have been nurtured by five generations of the Henschke family. It was first bottled on its own in 1958. As a single-vineyard wine, it\u2019s less consistent from year to year than Grange, but often equally (or more) profound.\r\n\r\nNo other winery can match the vineyard resources of Penfolds, so the trend in recent years has been to emphasize place as a key point of difference. More and more single-vineyard wines are being bottled, though many wineries don\u2019t want to acknowledge their fruit sources for fear of losing them to competitors.\r\n\r\nPenfolds 2010 Grange Shiraz (South Australia); $850, 99 points. This inky, embryonic wine deserves to be cellared until at least 2025 and should drink well for at least 25 years after that. It takes its time opening up in the glass to reveal notes of grilled meat, vanilla and plum. In the mouth, it\u2019s full bodied and firmly built, with a wall of chewy tannins surrounding a deep ripe core. Treasury Wine Estates. Cellar Selection.\r\n\r\nHenschke 2010 Hill of Grace Shiraz (Eden Valley); $820, 96 points. Is this the yin to Grange\u2019s yang? The wines are completely different, yet they\u2019re almost always discussed together. The 2010 HoG is aromatic and bright, with raspberry and cranberry fruit notes, hints of mint and a pinch of peppery spice. It\u2019s full bodied, but with elegant, supple tannins that ease gently into a long, crisp finish. Drink through 2030. Negociants USA. Cellar Selection.\r\nConsistent Clare\r\nThat\u2019s a challenge that\u2019s been embraced by winemakers throughout South Australia.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe were getting bigger than Ben Hur,\u201d says Kevin Mitchell, the owner-winemaker of Kilikanoon in the Clare Valley. \u201cNow we\u2019ve brought things back to around 14 or 14.5 [percent alcohol].\u201d\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s an admission you might not have heard 10 years ago. At the time, many South Australian winemakers seemed to think bigger was better and that ripeness was the ultimate goal.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ve been searching for a more elegant style the past seven or eight years,\u201d says Mitchell.\r\n\r\nWe taste Kilikanoon\u2019s 2010 Attunga 1865 Shiraz alongside the 2004. The differences are palpable. Despite being six years younger, there\u2019s less velvet and more silk in the 2010. The amount of new oak used in the 2010 was pared back from 100 percent to 80 percent. Additionally, its harvest date was attuned more to the wine\u2019s acid levels than how much sugar the grapes can hold.\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s a challenge that\u2019s never been a challenge at Clare\u2019s most famous wine estate, Wendouree, where wine has been made since 1895.\r\nThese are medium-bodied dry reds, the sort of wine you imagine European settlers craved as a reminder of the continent they left behind.\r\nCurrent owners Tony and Lita Brady arrived on the historic property in 1974 with no winemaking experience.\r\n\r\n\u201cI was truly, truly ignorant,\u201d says Tony. \u201cI hope I\u2019m being consistent.\u201d\r\n\r\nThere\u2019s a twinkle is his eye, but even after 40-plus years producing a wine sold exclusively to an oversubscribed mailing list, that\u2019s the sort of humility with which he approaches every day.\r\n\r\nThe Bradys seem to view themselves at least as much as stewards as they do owners. Tony attributes the winery\u2019s success to the uniqueness of the site.\r\n\r\n\u201cYou get a richer flavor at a lower sugar level,\u201d he says. \u201cWines from here have extraordinary chemistry\u2014low pH at a given ripeness.\u201d\r\n\r\nRemarkably, that ripeness typically comes at around 13.5 percent potential alcohol. We taste through the 2012\u201314 vintages of Wendouree Shiraz, and I note the labeled alcohol levels: 13.6%, 14% and 13.7%, respectively. Then we skip back to the 1991, which comes in at 13.5%.\r\n\r\nThese are medium-bodied dry reds, the sort of wine you imagine early European settlers craved as a reminder of the continent they left behind. The sort of wine that marries well with hearty tranches of steak or lamb but still has the delicacy to refresh the palate.\r\n\r\nIn short, they\u2019re the kind of wine I want to drink. The kind of wine other Australians are increasingly making. The kind of wine that Americans should be rediscovering.