McGuigan is a major wine producer in Australia, crushing 6% of the country’s harvest each year and standing as the #1 wine seller in its homeland. And yet its wines aren’t sold in the U.S. — until now. Rolling out this year you’ll find McGuigan’s The Plan, a line of low-cost wines designed to fight above their price point (12 bucks).
CEO Neil McGuigan (pronounced “mick-GWIG-inn”) recently visited San Francisco to showcase not just these wines, but also some of McGuigan’s higher-end production, including a four-year vertical of its Hand Made Shiraz, and a taste of its latest bottling of The Philosophy, a dense trophy wine. He ended up providing better notes about wines than most wine connoisseurs do.
Here’s a look at everything tasted.
2016 McGuigan The Plan Chardonnay – Low alcohol helps this chardonnay shine. Surprisingly complex, this wine includes herbal notes, lots of melon, quince, and lemon peel. Surprisingly dry, the wine has a finish of herbs and minerals that make it approachable and refreshing. B+ / $12
2016 McGuigan The Plan Red Blend – A divisive, polarizing red with 23 grams/liter of residual sugar. Designed as a bridge wine to take white wine drinkers in the red direction, it drinks like sangria, with juicy berries, orange peel, and red apple notes. Some chocolate on the finish. As a bridge, I get it, but I expect most Drinkhacker readers are miles beyond this bridge. C+ / $12
2016 McGuigan The Plan Shiraz – Chewy, chocolate heavy, with lots of dried berry notes. Structurally simplistic. B / $12
2016 McGuigan The Plan Cabernet Sauvignon – Good structure, with ample oak and a bolder chocolate note that emerges late in the game. Lingering sweetness. B / $12
2014 McGuigan Hand Made Shiraz – Quite tannic today, loaded with savory meat and black pepper notes. Dense currants and cherries, plus dark chocolate notes give it a solid base of fruit, but the entire package is relatively closed today. Overall it has a ton of promise. B+ / $40
2012 McGuigan Hand Made Shiraz – Bright acidity, opening up nicely to show brambly blackberry fruit. Opulent and lush, with a limestone, mineral-heavy finish. A / $NA
2010 McGuigan Hand Made Shiraz – Sharply acidic, with a big herbal profile and ample dried fruit. Notes of gunpowder, toasted caramel, and beefy notes all complement the tannins that linger on the back end of the wine. Still has years of development ahead. A- / $NA
2008 McGuigan Hand Made Shiraz – A real outlier here, gamy and rich with lots of barrel influence and overripe red fruits. Almost sulfurous at times; reminscent of well-aged cabernet. B / $NA
2013 McGuigan The Philosophy – 56% cabernet sauvignon and 44% shiraz. A statement wine with a big, savory nose, earthy and brooding. Very powerful on the palate with a ton of tannin, gunpowder, blackberry, cassis, and gentle vanilla notes all folded together into a lush and lengthy body. Opulent through and through, but also dense and deep. Well worth the reputation it’s making for itself. A / $125