The Wine Curmudgeon has always been ambivalent about the Layer Cake wines, which have always seemed to focus more on the chocolate cake label than what was in the bottle. It's not that some of them weren't eminently drinkable, and I have reviewed them favorably (and those that weren't elicited a reply from the producer). Rather, they always made me wonder if they would have been better with a more ordinary label and if had they cost a couple of bucks less.
Not this time, though. This version of the Layer Cake shiraz ($13, sample) is less expensive and isn't as over the top as some of the other vintages. There's less sweet fruit, the tannins are much more integrated, the 14.9 percent alcohol isn't overbearing, and the wine shows some unexpected polish, especially on the finish. Having said that, it's still a very Australian-style wine, with lots of cherry cola-ish fruit that practically explodes on your nose and in your mouth.
It's a big wine that even those of us who aren't all that fond of big wines can enjoy. Drink this with barbecue (beef, pork or chicken) or burgers and enjoy the label. Which is quite clever, especially when it doesn't get in the way of the wine.