Robert Parker’s annual report on Australia is out for 2005. 852 wines (out of 3000+ tasted !) selected as scoring more than 83 points.
Parker says that old vine Shiraz and Grenache from Barossa, Clare, & McLaren Vale and the fortifieds from Rutherglen are our greatest treasures. And he was pleasantly surprised by the very high quality of our Rieslings.
But Australian critics are likely to be surprised by his restrained enthusiasm for some of our cool climate icons.
In part this is Parker’s taste. He prefers bigger, richer wines (I’m sure he cut his teeth on Californian wines). But his is also an international (ie not Australian) perspective. Warm climate reds are what Australia does best. Barossa shiraz can be truly unique on the world stage. Australians can sometimes undervalue it because there is so much of it available locally. Whereas a cool climate shiraz from say Canberra is a refreshing change and therefore is sometimes overvalued.
To say that Shiraz is the wine that Australia does best, and that Australian Cabernet is comparatively weak or plain poor is relatively uncontroversial to an overseas wine critic, but would shock many Australians.
All in all the Australian wine industry should be pleased with Parker. He gives a lot of praise and effectively does a great deal to promote Australian fine wine. And if he does write “of course, there is plenty of industrial crap that I wasted days tasting through” – we all know he is right.