#newwinethisweek Week 35 – Aussie Shiraz
Shiraz in Australia, Syrah everywhere else; whatever you call it this is one of the best red wine grapes in the world, producing fruity and intense wines that are enjoyed all over the globe. Most famous perhaps as the grape of the Northern Rhone, producing world-famous wines from Côte Rôtie and Hermitage, Syrah has spread all over the wine-growing world.
This week we are focusing on Australia in particular, so Shiraz is the word. I can’t find a conclusive reason why the Aussies call it Shiraz, but what do you expect… they call a chicken a chook and can’t even say yoghurt and pasta properly! Shiraz was also referred to as Hermitage in Oz up to the late 80s; the most famous Aussie wine of all, Penfold’s Grange, was labelled Grange Hermitage until 1989, when Hermitage was dropped due to possible confusion with the famous Rhone AOC.
Shiraz is the most planted grape in Australia these days but in the 1970s vines were being ripped out and planted due to the growing popularity of white wine. In the Barossa Valley, Peter Lehmann took a huge gamble by setting up a winery and buying the fruit from 60 family businesses which were in danger of going bust; three decades later that gamble seems too have paid off big style; the great man passed away last year but what a legacy he’s left behind. The Barossa is the heart of Shiraz production in Australia and all of my picks come from here or McLaren Value in South Australia.
Shiraz/Syrah produces very different grapes dependent on where it is grown. In hot climates such as the Barossa Valley, the wines are full bodied with bold, sometimes jammy fruit and delicious notes leather, anise and spicy black pepper. The higher end producers are more commonly adding a small percentage of Viognier to the to blend (up to 4%) to lighten up the wines, a technique traditionally used in the production of Côte Rôtie. At most quality levels the tannins are soft and the acidity high making Shiraz a great all-rounder and a real crowd pleaser.
If you fancy pushing the boat out then these are the some of my favourites… I wish I hade some Dead Arm that was ready to be drunk… 2008 is just about ready!
And if you won the lottery over the weekend how about going to the very top of the tree??
So grab yourself a bottle of Aussie Shiraz and tell us what you think… I’m predicting a high score and some glowing reviews this week… Cheers and enjoy!