Yellow Tail Merlot

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

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.

Thorn Clarke Terra Barossa Shiraz – Cabernet – Petit Verdot

Though definitely a fruit bomb, we found this one a little more complex than the typical Australian Shiraz blend offered at this price. The nose offers up tobacco, leather, sandalwood, and pepper. The palate entry is surprisingly tart, with a strong taste of sour cherry. Proceed with caution, though, as one of us thought the fruit was overripe. A blend of 55% Shiraz, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 17% Petit Verdot.

Yalumba “Y Series” Merlot

Another split opinion. The nose is either grassy and vegetable, or replete with strawberry and apricot. On the palate, it’s either soft and refreshing, or thin and acidic.

Rosedale Wines Chook Shed Shiraz

There’s nothing subtle about this one. The nose offers up violets, licorice, and burnt rubber. The palate is off-dry, with oak, vanilla, and caramel.