I admit, Australian Shiraz has never been one of my “go to,” wines. I've even been known to be downright snobby about it. Unfortunately, many of the Aussie wines we see on a regular basis are cheap, mass produced and of sub-par quality. Some of these wineries seem to spend too much time on marketing research to decide which cute and fuzzy animal to put on the label, and not enough time worrying about making good wine. This is certainly not always the case, but a quick trip to your local grocery store wine section can illustrate why the Aussies have this rap.

Not to say that people don't like these wines. Some swear by certain cheap brands and that's just fine. Wine is here to be enjoyed and if you enjoy a wine, by all means, continue to do so. But, when you drink wine as much as we do, you tend to start thinking about it like food. You want to know where it comes from and who makes it. You don't want it to be treated like just another mass produced consumer product. You want it made well, with attention to detail and maybe even a little bit of love.

I know, I know, I'm waxing poetic over something that is in fact an agriculture product like any other. But with all the movements these days towards organic produce and free range meats, wines should get the same treatment, and they do, by some. If it ain't broke don't fix it, so if you enjoy drinking some of these cheap wines then again, do not stop. But, I for one can always tell the quality of a wine best on the morning after. Even a $5 bottle, if made correctly, can have you bouncing out of bed the next day, and many a $20 bottle, made improperly, will make you feel like you were beaten about the head with a lead pipe. There are large scale wineries all over the world, Australia is no exception. But we tend to think of Australia as one big winery (I won't say the name, but it rhymes with “Jello Fail”) when in fact there are many smaller production wineries in Australia that produce high quality wines in all price ranges.

Cooralook Winery is located in the region of Victoria, the area around Melbourne in Southeastern Australia. According to winemaker Tod Dexter, “Victoria is fortunate to have such a spectrum of wine growing conditions, we have the most climatically diverse wine growing regions of any state.” This allows Dexter to choose the areas best suited to different varietals, providing for the best expression of each grape. The 2007 Cooralook Shiraz is a great example of an inexpensive wine (around $15) done right. The nose of this wine is beautiful, with dark blackberry and currant aromas along with some floral notes and lots of earth and exotic spice. On the palate the wine has surprising depth and structure. The fruit is dark and takes on some notes of black pepper and coffee. The finish is long with big, ripe tannins making it a great wine for grilled lamb or steak. An interesting, exotic and fruity yet simply enjoyable red wine.