Yellow Tail Merlot

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Mass-market, low-priced Australian wines are of a particular style: super fruity, maybe a touch sweet, and very straightforward. Some may dismiss them as fruit juice (as one of us does), but even they can acknowledge that there are good and bad examples of this style. This 2009 Merlot, at $5, is pretty good. The nose provides a prominent alcohol burn, but there’s enough plum, cherry, and spice to keep it grounded. On the palate, it’s fairly acidic, with cherry as the dominant fruit.

Yellow Tail Shiraz-Cabernet

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As fruity as the Yellow Tail Merlot reviewed above, this Shiraz-Cabernet blend is a little bolder, with more sweet spice, riper fruit, and even some minerality. This one also lacks the hot, alcohol-driven nose of the Merlot. 80% Shiraz and 20% Cabernet.

Penfold’s Rawson’s Retreat Shiraz-Cabernet, South Eastern Australia

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Australian reds are seldom subtle, and this Shiraz-Cabernet blend from mass-producer Penfold’s is no exception. The nose is teeming with hops and weed (the good stuff). On the tongue, it’s a total fruit bomb. Don’t even think about pairing this one with food.