After splitting the difference in 2007 courtesy of a fine, spicy shiraz (91pts) and a fairly average cabernet sauvignon (87pts), it's great to see both Barwang reds return to top form in 2008. Barwang has essentially repeated in 2008 what Tahbilk did for cheap, readily available reds in 2006, not to mention what Saltram's Mamre Brook label did in 2004. The spread of regions (and states) of the 3 labels mentioned here beautifully reflects the diverse nature of Australia's modern wine scene.
With pleasing white pepper/spice notes laid across ripe plum, cherry and red licorice aromas, the 2008 Barwang does a fine job of representing Hilltops shiraz, which some have likened to being a stylistic fusion between the Grampians and Barossa styles. There's a clever scent of toasty, clove-like cedar oak in there as well, and for all the bouquet's ripe fruit it's considerably even. Plushness and generosity hallmark the palate's silky, medium-full bodied plum and cherry tones, while a simultaneously soft and ticklish coverage of gentle spices and vanilla oak extend the wine's good length of fruit, which drops a hint of dark chocolate licorice to conclude. Without doubt it's a classically Australian shiraz of genuine balance and sophistication for its price, backed by enough clean acids and slight yet grippy tannin to see it improve nicely over the medium-term.
ü+ Barwang's 2008 Shiraz is a more open and generous wine than their 2007, yet equally enjoyable all the same. It's not the first Hilltops shiraz to remind me of my home state, but there's nothing wrong with that for $15. Top value. Drink to 2016.