The shiraz cabernet blend is an Australian institution. This country championed it, refined it and still does it better than anyone else on the planet. Shiraz cabernet is Australia’s national treasure of the red wine world, and it deserves to be recognised and celebrated as Australia’s greatest red.
The history of the Australian wine industry is hinged on one wine style. It’s not Grange. This is a wine far more unique, far more definitively Australian; indeed, more highly regarded even than Grange.
Shiraz cabernet is The Great Australian Red. First championed in Australia in the late 1800s as generic “claret”, the blend of shiraz and cabernet was resurrected in the 1950s. By 1962, Max Schubert, the creator of Grange, had made what he himself named the best wine of his illustrious career. A blend of Coonawarra cabernet and Barossa shiraz, 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A is now Penfolds’ most successful show wine of all time, and has on countless occasions over a half-century been heralded as the greatest Australian red wine ever made.
Over the ensuing decades, the direction of red winemaking in this country was changed forever by the profound impact of this wine and hundreds of others which shared a similar formula. Schubert and his contemporaries were convinced of the potential of cabernet, both on its own and as a blending partner for shiraz. By the mid-1970s, the blend was rife across the landscape of the Australian wine industry.
That was forty years ago, a long way from the frenetic pace of the industry today. Australia now churns out tens of thousands of labels every year. How many of these represent blends of shiraz and cabernet? A few hundred, if that.
If many of the greatest wines that this country has ever produced are shiraz cabernet blends, why don’t we see more made today? It seems that the blend has slipped out of the limelight, in the wake of the rise of shiraz viognier and an entourage of alternative red varietals. We have created The Great Australian Red to shift this focus back to our unique icon.
The future of Australia’s wine industry depends on it just as much as has its past. Tapping into the strength of Australia’s history and framing it as the unique draw-card of the future, the shiraz cabernet blend is the secret weapon to take the Australian wine industry into its next era. The Great Australian Red is free of the constraints of region, price and style, drawing together great examples of all styles, at all price points, from every Australian state.
The Great Australian Red is an innovative wine competition to encourage, identify and promote shiraz cabernet blends. Since its beginnings in 2006, this competition has put the shiraz cabernet blend back into the focus of Australia and the world.