The place for all things wine, focused on serious wine discussions.
no avatar
User

Redwinger

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

4003

Joined

Wed Mar 22, 2006 3:36 pm

Location

Way Down South In Indiana, USA

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Redwinger » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:37 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:
Maybe I should start bringing recent Shiraz to every wine lunch until they are gone..... :twisted: Unfortunately that is probably around 8 cases, so it might get a bit monotonous.


Bill-
Yikes, 8 cases = A very slow learner. :?
Smile, it gives your face something to do!
User avatar
User

Bill Spohn

Rank

He put the 'bar' in 'barrister'

Posts

5088

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:31 pm

Location

Vancouver BC

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bill Spohn » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:12 pm

I often buy things I don't have the ability to taste, if I know the track record of previous vintages. I wasn't able to gauge that 2000-2002 was a 'watershed' time even on the ones I did taste, as it wasn't easy to see that the wines lacked structure fro long term aging. They were big dark sweet and somewhat tannic wines - but what else is new when you taste young Australian wines. It wasn't until they had 5-10 years on them that it became apparent that a fairly high proportion of them were losing fruit and had not much else to back it up - what you might call a sweet whizz-bang of a wine. It is kind of like trying to judge Port or Sauternes from barrel sample, to predict the likely future course of a big sweet Aussie wine from an early tasting. Much easier with things like claret.

That's by no means universal, but I am sitting here with reservations about the future for many. Hey Jenise - shall I bring an 04 Mitolo for lunch....? :P
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26866

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Jenise » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:32 pm

Bill Spohn wrote:Amen. Very disappointed in modern Shiraz and in the lack of selection we get here. I've taken the export directors to task in person and they say 'But that's what sells here' and they aren't wrong, it just doesn't sell to me or anyone like me.

I've been working my way through 90s Shiraz wil a fair bit of success but after about 2002 I find I rarely like them.



We're on the same track. In the last ten years, I only made two notable purchases: a case of the Delisio 2005 because someone I know swore by it and it was about 30% of regular price, and a case of Poonawatta Shiraz about the same vintage, though I can't recall specifically now what it is. The Delisio fits my McClaren Vale complaint to a 'T', and though the Poonawatta was all cherry and huge black pepper when I first got them, those qualities have receded and it's all nasty highly toasted oak now--something I didn't taste at all initially, and which I hate. (IIRC, you have the '04?) Getting burned like that makes one stay away from the fire; yet I know, as I said, that there are Australian wines I can love.

You and I talked once about doing a tasting of high end Shiraz. Would enjoy the opportunity to drag some of mine out--I hesitate to bring them to lunch where in the company of mostly European wine they don't fare well.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
User avatar
User

Bill Spohn

Rank

He put the 'bar' in 'barrister'

Posts

5088

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:31 pm

Location

Vancouver BC

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bill Spohn » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:40 pm

Jenise wrote:You and I talked once about doing a tasting of high end Shiraz. Would enjoy the opportunity to drag some of mine out--I hesitate to bring them to lunch where in the company of mostly European wine they don't fare well.


That would be interesting for an offline. I have a bunch of Mitolo, the Delisio 04, Oliver Hill Jimmy Sections, Mount Billy Antiquity, Gibson, Hazyblur, Kurtz, Fox Creek, D'Arenberg, and I think I have one Ballbuster (oh, no, I was thinking about SWMBO....) :oops:

Maybe we should try and get the local group into that?
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26866

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Jenise » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:47 pm

I rather like the idea, Bill. Maybe that's what I'll do for my next evening offline. However if you brought the Delisio or the Mitolo I'd ban you from all future events. :0 Don't even recognize some of the names you mention, like Kurtz or Mount Billy.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
User avatar
User

Bill Spohn

Rank

He put the 'bar' in 'barrister'

Posts

5088

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:31 pm

Location

Vancouver BC

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bill Spohn » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:57 pm

Jenise wrote: Don't even recognize some of the names you mention, like Kurtz or Mount Billy.


I shall restrain myself from going anywhere with that except to say that Mount Billy was a well rated wine by Halliday, so I thought I'd take a shot at it. Haven't opened one yet.
no avatar
User

Scott Kipping

Rank

Cellar rat

Posts

12

Joined

Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:59 pm

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Scott Kipping » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:18 pm

I don't buy anymore Shiraz. I still have 50+ bottles of it. Shiraz is what got me hooked on wine. Specifically 1988 E&E. I still have various 1998s to drink up. Dead Arm, Stonewell,E&E, Old Block.
Our house wine was Kilakanoon Oracle 1999 and 2000 when I could buy it for 29.00. In fact I just went thru my last bottle of 2000 Oracle. No baby fat or sweetness anymore, just a spice box that would be hard to peg as Shiraz without the still telltale big sweet nose of an Aussie, and my wife and I enjoyed 20+ ounces as the last part of the bottle was really thick with sediment.
One of my favourite wines of all time is 1998 Armagh. Which I was able to revisit in 2011, still utterly fantastic.
Last month I brought one to a friends house. He blind tasted it. He got the varietal right away, was off on the vintage by about 8 years and called it a fruit bomb with too much oak.Really. 1998 St Henri does not see any or minimal old oak. After seeing the label and letting it stand for a couple of hours, he thought it was not such a fruit bomb after all.
I still have a time and a place for Shiraz. I just don't go out of my way to source them anymore. With the stupid scores WA was bestowing on them, they quickly priced themselves out of reality, and the prices have stayed high or I would think about stocking some again.
no avatar
User

David Lole

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1556

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:49 am

Location

Canberra, Australia

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by David Lole » Mon Feb 25, 2013 10:57 am

Please find below a list of just some of the very fine Australian producer's I have knowledge and/or practical experience with their shiraz. This is not a complete or definitive list. There are literally hundreds of small artisan/boutique wineries making top notch, well-balanced, medium-bodied shiraz I do not have the time to include. If you get the chance to read and perhaps try some of what I have included below you may be in a better position to express more accurate assertions on Australian shiraz-based red wine. I'm sorry the American contingent on this board are unable to source but a few of the best (and some of the worst!) of what Australia has to to offer with this grape variety. Ask yourself why so many of our best red's are no longer imported into your country? Exchange rate is only part of the problem.

The commentary below is from one of Australia's most distinguished wine identity's - scholar, wine judge, author, valuer and auctioneer - Andrew Caillard MW. I have deleted some text not related to shiraz and added some comments of my own.

Part 1. A - K

Alkoomi - Frankland River, Great Southern, WA

Alkoomi takes its name from the local aboriginal language meaning “a place we choose”. The original vineyard was planted in 1971 by Merv and Judy Lange. This family owned winery and vineyard has expanded considerably over the last 30 years. Located 80 kilometres inland and in the emerging Frankland River sub region of the Lowe Great Southern, the 255 acre vineyard represents one of the largest family holdings in Western Australia.

The Jarrah Shiraz (also named after a variety of Eucalypt) derives from 30+ year old vines and is made in the traditional Australian fashion using open fermenters. It is matured for 18 months in approximately 50% new and old French oak. It is a well concentrated wine with redcurrant, plum savoury smoky aromas and soft but plush chocolaty tannins.

Baileys of Glenrowan, Rutherglen

Bailey’s at Glenrowan is located in classic bushranger country. The land around Glenrowan in Victoria is known as Kelly Country, named after Ned Kelly and his gang who roamed the area.

Richard Bailey, a merchant who supplied goods to gold miners, purchased the property in 1853. The first wine was made in 1870. The family eventually sold its business in 1972. It’s now owned by Foster’s Wine Estates. The low-yielding vineyards, replanted in the early 1900s because of phylloxera, are located on red granitic soils in what is a relatively hot and continental climate.

The district is best known for its fortified wines. However, Bailey’s produces a robust, well-focused, single vineyard 1904 and 1920s Block Shirazes. These are limited release wines – only 6 tonnes comes off the 1904 Block. The wines are made in traditional open fermenters and matured in a combination of American and French oak.

The overall profiles of these wines make them ideal secondary market staples, though they have yet to perform. Maybe that’s a good thing because they are bloody good value for those who cannot be bothered or cannot afford to be caught up in Robert Parker Jr.’s skewed enthusiasms.

Barossa Valley Estates, Barossa Valley

Barossa Valley Estates was established by 50 Barossa grape growers (members of the Valley Growers Co-operative) many of them from the dry-grown northern Moppa and Ebenezer sub-regions of the Barossa. BVE is now partially owned by Constellation Brands. The winery, complete with visitors centre, is located at Seppeltsfield one of the prettiest sub-regions of the Barossa.

The highly regarded Barossa Valley Estates E&E Black Pepper Shiraz is sourced from some of the best dry grown vineyards in the Barossa, ranging from 30 to 100 year old vines and averaging about 65 years. Although this wine is essentially a tete de cuvee reflecting the power, richness and flavour of regional Barossa Shiraz, inevitably most of the fruit is picked from the very low-yielding vines in the northeast corner of the Barossa Valley. The wine is made in the traditional style. Picked at optimum ripeness, the wines are fermented in open headed down fermenters. At dryness, the wines are drained and pressed into a combination of new and 1 and 2 year old American and French oak for between 12 and 18 months.

The E&E Black Pepper Shiraz was originally conceived by Colin Glaetzer, founder of Glaetzer Wines and the father of enterprising winemaker Ben Glaetzer. It comprises the best of fruit from the vintage. Black Pepper Shiraz is considered a benchmark Barossa Shiraz with its plush rum 'n raisin/aniseed nose, ripe tannins, deep-set fruit, and skilful oak handling. Certainly, they have the balance and structure to age well. This reputation for aging and consistency has propelled E&E into the top echelon of the secondary market wine. The wines are highly prized by Australian collectors.

Barossa Valley Estates also produces a Sparkling E&E Shiraz, which is a variant. [The 2004 vintage of the sparkling E&E is nothing short of outstanding]

Best's Great Western, Grampians

The history of Best’s goes back to 1893 when William Thomson purchased a vineyard (the first vines were planted in 1868) and winery at Rhymney. This property was subsequently renamed St Andrew’s to acknowledge the Thomson Family’s Scottish origins. Frederick Thomson acquired the property from his father in 1911 and in 1920 purchased Best’s Concongella Vineyard at Great Western originally planted in 1866.

The Great Depression forced the Thomsons off their land but by the early 1930s the family was back in control again through both dogged persistence and luck. The Thomson family are inextricably linked to Great Western. Viv Thomson is the fourth generation to run the family business. The Best's Thompson Family Reserve Shiraz is one of Victoria's greatest wines and represents a window to Australia's winemaking past. Like Henschke Hill of Grace and Penfolds Block 42 in the Barossa Valley, the Best's Concongella Vineyard 1860s plantings at Great Western belong to Australia's rich heritage of ancient genetic and pre-phylloxera vineyards.

The 15 rows of dry grown Shiraz vines (well over 140 years old) are the source material for the Thompson Family; a rich generously proportioned Shiraz with brilliant blackberry/meaty fruit underpinned by cedar oak and gravelly tannins. The wine is open-fermented in small ‘tubs’ and then matured in a 50/50 combination of new and old American oak for approximately 24 months. While first released in 1992 (to commemorate a century of winemaking at Best’s) this wine is a particularly special experience. It was not produced in 1993, 1999, and 2000 reflecting the extreme vicissitudes of grape growing. The severe frosts in October 1998 reduced the 1999 crop dramatically making it impossible to make a Thomson Family Shiraz. However the wine, blended with a component of Best’s Bin O Shiraz and matured in American oak puncheons, was isolated and bottled as Best’s FHT Shiraz. In 2000 the vines simply ran out of steam.

The Concongella Vineyard, originally planted in 1866 on sandy limey loams over deep clay, was acquired in 1920. Best’s Bin O Shiraz is sourced from 4 low yielding Concongella Shiraz blocks established in 1966, 1970, 1992 and 1994. Vinification takes place in open stainless steel fermenters with regular plunging. The wine is matured in a combination of 1/3rd new and 1 and 2 year old French and American oak (barriques and puncheons) for a period of around 12 months. In a declassified year, some Thomson Reserve fruit (from some of the oldest Shiraz plantings in Victoria) can be included.

Brokenwood Wines, Hunter Valley

Brokenwood was established in the early 1970s by a group of wine enthusiasts including James Halliday, John Beeston and the late Tony Albert. The winery is known for its legendary parties and spirit of place. The first harvest was brought into the winery in the boot of Len Evans Bentley. Brokenwood ownership has changed over the years, but has retained consistency with the strong leadership of chief winemaker/partner and industry mentor, Iain Riggs.

The winery is located at Pokolbin in the heart of the lower Hunter Valley and within sight of the Brokenback Ranges. Its vineyards are named after a 19th century Pokolbin town planning map. Its famous 15 hectare Graveyard Vineyard, for instance, is planted on the site of the planned – but never implemented – Pokolbin Graveyard. The Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz, derived from a multitude of ancient genetic vine Selections and first introduced in 1984, has quickly evolved into a modern classic.

The sheer class of the 40 hectare vineyard, planted on heavy red clay over loam soils, is shown when the inevitable February rains set in. The topsoil is very mean and shallow forcing the vines to struggle, resulting in very low yields that average about 1 tonne/acre. The consistency of quality across vintage reflects a remarkable wine making philosophy, attitude and vineyard character.

The wine is partially barrel fermented and then matured in a combination of French and American oak barriques for a period of around 14 months. Young elemental Graveyard shows ginger bread, blackberry aniseed fruit, plenty of savoury oak and floral/herb garden notes. The opulent gamey/French polish characters develop with time bringing a rich palimpsest of aromas and flavours. There is plenty of light and shade across vintages making Graveyard one of Australia’s most interesting and characterful Shirazes.

Brokenwood’s Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz has been a major success and is considered as one of Australia’s great Shiraz wines.

Cape Mentelle, Margaret River

The Cape Mentelle winery and original vineyard lie between the town of Margaret River and the Cape from which it takes its name. The original Mentelles were Frenchmen, geographer Edmunde and his cartographer brother Francois-Simon, who lived in Paris in the early 1700s.

The winery is now owned by the French luxury brand group LMVH owners of Domaine Chandon and Cloudy Bay in New Zealand. Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon enjoyed impressive beginnings, with Jimmy Watson Trophies for both the 1982 and 1983 vintages, but these were followed by a number of ordinary vintages. However by the late 1980s the quality began to improve enormously.

Cape Mentelle Shiraz is a quintessential Western Australian Shiraz and an excellent foil to the rich, ripe, deeply concentrated Shirazes of South Australia. The fruit is from Cape Mentelle's Wallcliffe Vineyard close to the winery. Thirty percent is aged in a combination of French and American oak with the remaining wine matured in large oak vats. It shows raspberry/peppery aromas with touches of cherry, gravelly tannins and toasty oak – a style in evolution.

Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon is a pacesetter; Cape Mentelle Shiraz is emerging as another important benchmark.

Castagna, Beechworth

Julian Castagna is an intellectual rebel with an inbuilt navigation system which seemingly goes against the tide of sameness and boredom. His small, biodynamic Estate in the foothills of the Australian Alps cloaks an elevated ridgeline at Beechworth and is one of the most exciting vineyards in Victoria.

The vines are anchored in decomposed granitic loams layered over clay. The climate here is Mediterranean, but relatively continental with hot days and cool nights. The winemaking philosophy is laissez faire and traditional. The Genesis Syrah – co-fermented with Viognier – is a fantastic wine with freshness, gorgeous fruit definition and minerality. The Viognier component gives extra perfume and viscosity.

Vinification is non-interventionist; Castagna believes a winemaker’s role is not to stuff up the integrity of the fruit by using a heavy hand. This extends to oak maturation. The wine sees a proportion of new oak but the percentage differs each year according to vintage. It is usually around 50% but can be less. Castagna particularly likes using Bossuet barrels (coopered in Bordeaux) which bring structure and Sirugue which bring richness.

The wines have remarkable blackberry pastille/meaty/bacon/violet aromas, slinky tannins and underlying new oak. Castagna Un Segreto is a Sangiovese/Syrah blend. Castagna calls it a ‘super Beechworth’ wine alluding to the ‘super Tuscan’ genre. While early days, this wine has all the hallmarks of something special. The outstanding beautiful and silky smooth La Chiave (The Key) Sangiovese is arguably one of the best of its kind with red cherry/ mocha fruit and lovely richness on the palate. Sauvage – a blend of declassified Genesis and La Chiave – has been released in response to both the smoke tainted 2003 and 2007 vintages. Castagna says, “The smoke taint wasn’t really that bad in 2007. It was really because the growing season was short and it resulted in a wine that didn’t really show what Genesis of La Chiave is all about. I have been a buyer of fine wine since my 20s. My expectations are very high. I feel that I must also bring that level of scrutiny to my own wines.”

Overall the quality and attention to detail makes Castagna one of Australia’s great emerging wine producers.

Clonakilla, Southern NSW

Tim Kirk’s ethereal and evocative Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is perhaps one of the most important advances in the development of Australian Shiraz since the release of 1952 Penfolds Grange Hermitage. It is a wine that has profoundly captured the essence of country and the imagination of an entire generation of Australian winemakers and fine wine drinkers.

Indeed it is a vision splendid that articulates Max Schubert’s famous and prescient speech (addressed to the first Australian National University Wine Symposium in Canberra in 1979) that: “We must not be afraid to put into effect the strength of our own convictions, continue to use our imagination in wine-making generally, and be prepared to experiment in order to gain something extra, different and unique in the world of wine.”

Clonakilla, meaning “Meadow of the Church” and located in a gentle south facing fold of the cool southern tablelands at Murrumbateman near Canberra, was established by CSIRO research scientist John Kirk in 1971. Fourth son Tim is a theologian turned winemaker; learning his craft from his father and mentors Bailey Carrodus of Yarra Yering and Phillip Jones of Bass Phillip. An impossibly brilliant upbringing with a family of creative and practical intellectuals meant a childhood steeped in wine, science, mathematics, music, philosophy, earth and Catholicism. With such clever parents and siblings the pressure of meeting expectations has no doubt demanded great strength from within and to some degree a longing for simplicity and peace. A vocation of wine, church and family is rare in today’s modern world. Yet it is this extra dimension of spiritual awareness and faith – rather than genius – that may account for the extraordinary and enduring quality of this wine.

There is something metaphysical and unworldly about the Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier. It is so incredibly perfumed and rich, yet minerally and poised. It is Tim Kirk’s Allegris Miserere in a glass – beauty and perfection. If only communion wine could be as lyrical as this. Working in timber yards, cleaning up building sites and writing masses with a “eucharist focus” are the type of experiences that must provide some form of grounding to the applied winemaker. Rolling barrels, maintaining winery hygiene and orchestrating the mystery of co-fermentation seem a natural fit.

A visit to the Rhone in 1991 and a barrel tasting of Marcel Guigal’s single vineyard Cote Roties from the 1988 vintage was a pivotal experience, much in the same way as Max Schubert’s visit to Bordeaux in the autumn of 1949. At a “sub conscious level” the discovery of these compelling fragrances and textures of co-fermented Shiraz Viognier was a religious experience; here at play were heavenly forces that showed “the goodness of creation”.

Unblinkered by the constraints of a technical background – and determined to “capture the wonder and beauty” of his own place – Tim Kirk began to experiment with pre-fermentation macerations, varietal blending options, running fermentations to relatively high temperatures and experimenting with whole bunch fermentation, extended post fermentation soaking, partial barrel fermentation and new oak maturation philosophy. While the style is constantly being assessed and fine tuned, Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is now approximately a 93%/7% blend. The wine is matured in one third new French oak to let “our cool climate profile fruit lead the wood.”

In many respects the wine is still a work in progress, as are all great experiential wines. However Tim Kirk’s achievement is so much more than the wine itself. This is about a journey of love and a feeling of place. It’s about building on the past, engaging the landscape and bringing something from the heart. The result speaks for itself. Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is not a product of process nor just of land. It is a shining example of what wine making philosophy is all about. This is a wine that partially eclipses vineyard site and winemaking skill.

Tim Kirk quotes John Chapter 2 and jokes about Jesus turning water into Shiraz Viognier. That air of confidence but underlying vulnerability and generosity of spirit seep through his wine. The Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is the first wine from the emerging Canberra District to draw serious enthusiasm from wine collectors and wine commentators. Its potential is phenomenal. [The entire Canberra District regularly makes quite brilliant cool climate Shiraz, across the board]

Craiglee, Sunbury

Craiglee Shiraz is regarded as one of the top Shirazes in Victoria. Craiglee is located at Sunbury, west of Melbourne. The historic bluestone winery was built by J.S. Johnston in 1865 and is set in grounds with beautiful Moreton Bay Fig trees.

The winery went out of production in the 1920s. A cache of 1872 Craiglee Sunbury Shiraz was found buried at the winery in the 1950s and, after tasting the wine, John Brown of Milawa fame, encouraged the Carmody family to re-establish the vineyard and winery. He said, “Any site anywhere in the world that can produce a wine that lasts for 100 years is worth being replanted.” The re-planted 10 hectare vineyard is now over 25 years old.

Planted on alluvial river flats close to Jackson Creek, a tributary of the Maribyrnong River, the soils comprise sands over river stones. Since the 1985 vintage, the wines have shown extraordinary consistency of quality. It is quite a different wine to any other, reflecting its own unique site. The wines have earthy/pepper/raspberry and black olive aromas, tightly structured palates and iron-like tannins. They age well as they become more earthy and complex with softer tannins and length.

Henschke Keyneton, Eden Valley

Stephen Henschke remembers vividly playing as a child in the stalk heaps behind the old Miller crusher tended by his grandfather, feet swollen with bee stings and the sheer wonderment of vintage time.

He used to follow his father Cyril like a shadow, clambering around fermentation tanks, holding old heavy brewery hoses, talking and shouting above the din of rattling machinery. The sight and smell of freshly crushed grapes, the ethereal aromas pervading from open fermentation vats and the silage-like aroma of stalks and marc evoke a strong memory of place, of long intimate conversations between father and son and deep connection with land and family.

Cyril’s influence and friends shaped Stephen Henschke’s thinking. Max Schubert, the creator of Grange, the brilliant wine scientist Ray Beckwith and veteran winemaker Jim Irvine (of Irvine Merlot fame), were early mentors. The late professor Helmut Becker, head of the Geisenheim Research Institute, was also a visitor and encouraged both Stephen Henschke and Prue to study and work in Germany. It was their spell at Geisenheim that instilled a philosophy of perfectionism, research, analysis and protective winemaking.

After the tragic death of Cyril, Stephen inherited a winery making reds in an old fashioned rustic style made in open fermenters and concrete underground tanks. In those days there was no temperature control and the wines were matured in large old oak barrels.

The rear mirror view of the Henschke wine business is one of remarkable change. Research and experimentation have underpinned the slow and purposeful evolution of the vineyards and wines. Prue Henschke’s work in the Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone vineyard has been a remarkable forensic exercise. These utterly unique and historical vineyards define in many respects the essence and future of ultra-fine Australian Shiraz. Experimental work at Henschke’s vineyard at Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills has played a vital role in understanding how to conserve old vines, maintain health and improve consistency and quality of fruit. Canopy management, sod culture, mulching and the use of native grasses to maintain soil moistures are used throughout Henschke’s vineyards. The adoption of Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic principles is a recent development. This has already reaped extraordinary results.

The ancient gene pool and average vine age – potentially threatened by phylloxera, eutypa-dieback and other pests and diseases – is rigorously defended through vine selection and inter-planting. In the winery a 10 year project researching the effect of seasoning new oak and flavour profiles with AP John has seen a fundamental but subtle shift in both the Mount Edelstone and Hill of Grace style. The use of French oak has increased markedly as a result of a better understanding of bottle age maturation. The Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon is a major beneficiary. These wines clearly articulate vineyard character and strength of place. Hill of Grace has a rare pure fruit resonance that captures the warp and woof of a unique and historic single vineyard, originally planted in the 1860s.

The 'Hill of Grace' style speaks profoundly of place and is the quintessential Eden Valley Shiraz. The use of partial barrel fermentation in a combination of new American and French oak and 18 months maturation bring further complexity and harmony. The wines are intensely complex with ground coffee/black cherry/blackberry aromas with hints of savoury oak. The palate is wonderfully concentrated and powerful with deep set blackberry/mocha flavours intertwined with plenty of malt/spicy oak and fine lacy tannins. Some vintages are very rare.

Planted around 1912 and thickened by time and slumped by the weight of age, the Mount Edelstone Vineyard Shiraz is a study of contrasting light, shade, flaws and perfection. Mount Edelstone is one of Australia’s great single vineyards not only because it is able to make outstanding wine but also because it remains “true to its origin”. This much loved wine, with its pure blackberry fruit and elegant structure, attracts an astonishing volume of interest from collectors and wine enthusiasts. Mount Edelstone Shiraz is in many respects the ultimate in Australian Shiraz pervading a strong sense of place through its wonderful opulence of fruit and vintage character.

The new 2002 Tappa Pass Shiraz is perhaps the most utterly seductive and exciting wine to emerge from Henschke’s portfolio in recent times.

Jacob's Creek, Barossa Valley

Jacob’s Creek is one of the most successful wine brands in the world. It is so well-known in export markets that Orlando dumped its name in favour of rebadging itself as Jacob’s Creek. However the quality image never trickles up. If anything all of those great old names – Steingarten, St Hugo and Lawson’s – have not really benefited from this repositioning on the secondary wine market.

Lawson’s Shiraz, named after Robert Lawson, one of the early pioneers of the cool climate Padthaway region, is also a well regarded wine with a similar cachet. It can still claim regional definition, consistency of quality and value, but it rarely achieves the top note of Australian Shiraz. The Padthaway fruit is drawn from a single vineyard planted in 1968 on deep sandy soils on gentle eastern slopes surrounded by eucalypt trees. These are rich, flavoursome wines with plenty of rich Shiraz fruit definition, a touch of menthol and ripe mouth-filling tannin structure.

Centenary Hills Barossa Shiraz is also a good value wine showing good regional characters and volume of fruit.

Jim Barry, Clare Valley

Jim Barry, named after the eponymous founding wine maker, is one of the stalwart wineries of the Clare Valley. In 1959 the late Jim Barry purchased land near the township of Clare, replanting much of it to vineyard. A highly influential figure on the Australian wine scene, he worked for the Clarevale co-operative for two decades and established Taylor’s for the Sydney-based Taylor family. He also formed a strong relationship with Roly Birks at Wendouree, making his own wines there in the late 1960s before building his own winery in 1973. He quickly built a fine reputation for his wines, most being sold in the ‘excellent value for money’ category.

The fortunes of Jim Barry wines changed dramatically towards the end of the 1980s. Peter and Mark Barry have shown incredible marketing and winemaking intuition. The Armagh has achieved extraordinary success and is regarded as one of the finest Shirazes in the country. The Armagh vineyard was named after the nearby town of Armagh, established by Irish settlers around 1859. Jim Barry planted it in 1968 with Shiraz clones originally sourced from Israel.

Made by Mark Barry, The Armagh is a powerfully compressed Australian Shiraz style, a wine of monumental proportions that explodes with aroma and flavour. The vineyard is planted on its own roots on black alluvial soils over sandy gravel. The wine is vinified in open top fermenters and matured in a combination of new American and French oak for between 12 and 14 months.

The Jim Barry Armagh is an intense, plush, concentrated, essence-of-Clare, Shiraz style. The oak, particularly in classic years, is hidden behind curtains of deep, ripe, intense fruit and extraordinarily fine, structured tannins. This wine has attracted considerable attention as a paradigm for the current enthusiasm of highly-concentrated, massively-proportioned Australian Shirazes. Regardless of personal preferences, this wine is surely a beacon of quality showing extraordinary consistency across vintages. The quality is excellent.

Kaesler, Barossa Valley

Kaesler is one of the traditional old wine family names of the Barossa. The vineyards were first established in 1893 and planted with Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro (Mourvedre) and White Hermitage (probably Semillon) vines now regarded as traditional regional varieties.

The family purchased several blocks during the late 1890s and at one stage owned some of the “tidiest” parcels of land in the district. Much of the fruit was sent off to Seppeltsfield for port and sherry production. By 1917 grape sales were flagging and various blocks were pulled up. Several acres were planted to orchards including apricot, peach and plums.

In 1944 the family holdings were divided up between three brothers. Economic hardship lead to the sale of two properties, but Arthur Kaesler (the youngest brother) held on to the home block converting orchards back to vineyard and maintaining its old vines. Grape growing during the 1960s and 1970s was a struggle. In some years the fruit was almost impossible to sell. In 1986 Arthur Kaesler sold the property to private hands. The fruit was mainly purchased by local wineries including Penfolds, Seppelt and Orlando.

However in 1997 Cellarmasters made a Kaesler wine under contract. The old bush vine Shiraz attracted notice from winemaker and employee Reid ‘Boz’ Bosward. In 1998 he made a special bottling of Old Bastard Shiraz from the same block. A chance meeting in Bordeaux with a Swiss banker named Edourd Peters and a mutual dream of making something special let to the formation of an international syndicate and the purchase and consolidation of two of the three original Kaesler Blocks. Vineyard management follows a low input philosophy. The energy and investment in this winery has been exemplary. Reid Bosward is a gifted winemaker, and while born in Sydney, has the gait and charm of a Barossa Boy born and bred. Winemaking philosophy is non-interventionist.

Kaesler’s top wine is Old Bastard Shiraz, a wine based on a parcel of original 1893 plantings. The early Old Bastard Shirazes were matured in American Oak hogsheads for 36 months. These days the wine style has evolved considerably. It is fermented in stainless steel and then racked into Burgundian oak for roughly 19 months maturation. Reid Bosward calls his winemaking, “Flying by the seat of my pants”. In truth he knows his vineyards backwards and plays on the strengths of his fruit. This is a beautiful Barossa style with glorious intensity of fruit and seductively rich palate structure. You really can’t get much better than this for top notch Barossa Valley Shiraz.

The curiously named Bogan – an Australian term meaning uncouth or ‘rough around the edges’ – is a Shiraz based on mature vine (some going back to 1899) Marananga Shiraz. This is a more medium term cellaring wine with plenty of fruit volume and ripe smooth tannins. The oddly-named WOMS (weapons of mass seduction) is a traditional chocolaty Australian Shiraz Cabernet. The Fave Grenache is a new addition to the limited release range but it’s more than half decent. Kaesler also produces an Old Vine range including a generously concentrated Shiraz based on 45 year old vine material.

Kalleske, Barossa Valley

The Kalleske family arrived in the Barossa in 1853 and is one of the oldest grape growing families in Australia. While this is a relatively new label, vineyard plantings date back to 1875. The average age of vines is about 50 years. The 120 acre vineyard, located at Greenock, is regarded by many as ‘first-growth’ quality.

Fifth generation grape grower John Kalleske has a reputation for producing first class fruit. Indeed Kalleske has been a regular and important source for Penfolds Grange over many years. In recent years organic and biodynamic practices have been adopted. Sixth generation sons Troy and Tony Kalleske established a winery and released their first vintage in 2004.

Winemaking philosophy is laissez faire with minimalist wine making technique. Kalleske emphasises its hand winemaking approach and commitment to genuine estate grown wine. Troy Kalleske is regarded by many as one of Australia’s top young winemakers. He is already winning swags of awards. No doubt Penfolds (where he spent a few years as a winemaker) was a very good proving ground.

The Kalleske Shiraz is a terrific wine with all the generosity and flavour one could hope for. The Johann Georg Shiraz is an ultra-cuvee which has cracked the tonne on the market. This puts it in the same league as some of the very top Shirazes in the Barossa, including Henschke Mount Edelstone, Grant Burge Meshach and Penfolds RWT.

The integrity of vineyard site, family heritage, overall charm and second-to-none winemaking skills make Kalleske one of the most interesting small wineries in Australia today.

Kay’s Amery Vineyards, McLaren Vale

Kay’s Amery Vineyards are located in the haunches of the Southern Mt. Lofty Ranges in the Seaview sub region of McLaren Vale. The farm was established in the early 1850s by Richard Baker Aldersey and named after his birthplace in Hampshire, England. He is buried on the estate in a tiny cemetery “where the curlews cry and the she-oaks sigh”.

Seven acres of vines were planted in 1886. In 1890 the Amery property was purchased by Herbert and Frederick Kay, who, with cuttings from Hardy’s Tintara, set about planting “25,800 Shiraz, 5,000 Riesling, 10,000 Cabernet” on the relatively fertile mosaic of red loams, heavy clays and gravelly alluvial soils ironstone gravel. A gravitational winery was built into a hillside using the latest designs available in 1895. First vintage was 1896.

During the 1920 and 1930s much of the red wine (mostly full-bodied) was sent to the UK as Australian Burgundy or London Blend. The importing agent P.B. Burgoyne was purchased by the Emu Wine Company in 1961 resulting in sales drying up and a change of fortunes. Most of the wine was sold in bulk during the 1970s and early 1980s.

Indeed much of the 12 acre Block 6 Vineyard – planted on the 6th May 1861 – was drastically grubbed up during the grim days of the early 1980s. Of the 5890 original vines, only 2000 remain on 4 acres. These vines are very ancient genetic material with a probable provenance going back to the James Busby Collection of the 1840s. Third generation family member Colin Kay – who took over from his father Cud (Cuthbert) as winemaker in 1970 – has gradually built up Kay’s Amery as one of the most important small wineries in McLaren Vale. With a strong and remarkable heritage, wonderful resources and a lucky break into the US market, Kay’s Amery has established itself again as one of McLaren Vales leading wineries.

The Shiraz vineyards are all planted with the same genetic material as the now-famous Block 6 bringing a particular consistency and character to these plushly concentrated, velvety wines. Block 6 was originally a “pumpkin patch” of old bush vines. Since 1987 the entire low-yielding vineyard was trellised in a north-south direction. The changeover to rod and spur pruning, judicious use of drip irrigation and introduction of vertical shoot positioning in more vigorous areas of the vineyard has lead to a remarkable genesis of fruit quality.

The wine is made in traditional “headed down” open fermenters originally built by the Kay Brothers in 1895/1896. After fermentation the wine is drained and basket pressed into mostly new American and some new Balkan oak for a maturation period of around 28 months. This is a very powerful, concentrated cellaring style with plenty of fruit richness.

The Hillside Shiraz, from vines planted in 1992, is traditionally fermented and then aged in new American oak casks for around 28 months. The Amery Shiraz is matured in American oak barriques and hogsheads for less than 2 years and is more of a maturation style.

Kilikanoon, Clare Valley

Kilikanoon Winery, based at Penwortham, was established in 1997 by Kevin Mitchell, an Adelaide University graduate and a Clare Valley winemaker down to his bootstraps. Initially the wines were based on Kilikanoon’s Golden Hillside suite of contiguous vineyards planted by Kevin’s father Mort during the 1960s and 1970s.

Low input viticulture and traditional winemaking techniques are extensively employed evoking the idea of hand-made wines. Fastidious attention to detail and a burning ambition to make wines with clear regional definition and individual personality propelled the tiny Kilikanoon winery into the rarefied sanctum of the cult wine scene. Astonishing success at the 2002 Clare Valley Wine Show where it all but swept the field cemented it a reputation in both the conventional and wacky fine wine scenes.

Kilikanoon’s top wines are Mort’s Reserve Riesling, Oracle Shiraz and Covenant Shiraz – all of which have a growing presence on the secondary wine market. Robert Parker Jr. regularly pushes these wines forward although the notion of “liquid Viagra” is a little over the top.

The single vineyard Oracle, derived from the 40 year old Mort’s Block, is a beautifully polished wine with plenty of dense black fruits, graphite undertones, gorgeous volume and slinky, chocolaty, dry tannins. The wine is aged for 24 months in French oak. The Covenant, which is a multi-vineyard Clare Valley wine, is minerally with sweet fruit and underlying malty oak notes. Mort’s Riesling is typically well concentrated with plenty of lime/camomile aromas and fine, long minerally acidity. The Prodigal Grenache is a well scented, musky wine with muscular dry tannins.

In more recent times Kilikanoon has expanded its horizons. It has access to vineyards in the Southern Flinders north of Clare, The Barossa and the Adelaide Plains (for its entry level Killerman’s Run). Not surprisingly the range of wine is quite extensive although it has yet to yield to the Chardonnay and Shiraz Viognier fanatics. It even sources a Muscat form Rutherglen in Victoria.

Kilikanoon’s portfolio is full of biblical names, single vineyard or special one-off wines reflecting a business in full flight. Under the guiding energy and influence of investor Nathan Waks – a cellist and polymath businessman – Kilikanoon has become a leading innovator and adventurer in Australian fine wine. In 2007 the investors behind Kilikanoon purchased the famous and incredibly important Seppeltsfield winery in the Barossa lock stock and barrel.

There is a real sense of purpose behind Kilikanoon. It sponsors the arts and submits to all forums of criticism. However it cannot build up an endless portfolio of wines without diluting the specialness of its very top wine. Kilikanoon is a fascinating and well-managed business.
Last edited by David Lole on Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Cheers,

David
User avatar
User

Dave Erickson

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

832

Joined

Tue Jun 20, 2006 5:31 pm

Location

Asheville, NC

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Dave Erickson » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:16 pm

There is another source for "shiraz," of course. The South Africans make some good ones. One of the best comes from Mullineaux, although they use "syrah" on the label.

My previous experience of South African Syrah/Shiraz was limited; the most memorable was the Porcupine Ridge, a second label of Boekenhoutskloof; it was a cheap and cheerful wine with lots of fruit, lots of pepper, and a wonderful aroma of hard salami. The 2010 Mullineux is in a different category altogether, with some of the same black fruit, only with far more elegance, and peppery notes enhanced with some smokey, herbal character. In the mouth, the wine was full-bodied with complex red and black fruit flavors. It was more like a Crozes-Hermitage than some wines I've tasted that actually were from Crozes-Hermitage. No wonder the Platter Wine Guide named it “Red Wine Of The Year.” In Cape Town, the wine was priced at the equivalent of $27.27.
no avatar
User

David Lole

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1556

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:49 am

Location

Canberra, Australia

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by David Lole » Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:56 pm

The second part of a summary on Australian Shiraz producers

The commentary below is from one of Australia's most distinguished wine identity's - scholar, wine judge, author, valuer and auctioneer - Andrew Caillard MW. I have deleted some text not related to shiraz and added some comments of my own.

Part 2. L - Z

Langmeil, Barossa Valley

In the early 1840s Christian Auricht, a blacksmith and newly arrived from Prussia, acquired some land at the new village of Langmeil in the Barossa. He planted a mixed orchard and Shiraz vineyard. He built a butcher’s shop, a bakery, a blacksmithy and the first village well. During the early days it was a coaching point where travellers stopped on their way to Kapunda and Burra. The Auricht family sold the buildings and land in the 1930s.

A winery called Paradale was established on the site, but was again sold in the 1970s and renamed Bernkastel wines. In 1988 Langmeil was established by Richard Lindner, Chris Bitter and Carl Lindner – all Barossa-born and bred. A small patch, roughly 3½ acres of original Shiraz vines planted in the early 1840s remained intact. These vines are the source for Langmeil’s flagship wine The Freedom Shiraz, so named to recollect the early Lutheran pioneers of Langmeil who escaped religious persecution and political turmoil in Prussia.

It is a traditional but concentrated Barossa style with lashings of sweet fruit, ripe tannins and oak. The wine is open fermented and then matured for up to 24 months in a combination of new and old French oak. The Orphan Bank Shiraz which sees a combination of new and used/seasoned American and French oak (proportions vary according to vintage) is a bloody good stock-in-trade style with plenty of fruit generosity and flavour length. The Fifth Wave Grenache, based on dry grown 60 year old vines is a powerful maturation style. The Three Gardens Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre is a classic juicy wine. Langmeil produces a number of other wines including a limited release Jackaman’s Cabernet Sauvignon based on southern Barossa fruit.

Winemaker Paul Lindner belongs to a new generation of winemakers who believe that the fruit should be allowed to resonate with its origins. Oak is therefore always matched according to the overall volume and character of fruit. Langmeil has a moderate presence on the secondary wine market. The wines, however, are really good.

McWilliam's Mount Pleasant, Hunter Valley

The Mount Pleasant winery was established in 1880 by Charles King and then purchased by the legendary pioneer winemaker Maurice O’Shea, considered one of the fathers of the modern day wine industry. His legacy of great old Hunter wines and winemaking philosophy are still widely respected. The current owner McWilliam's purchased a half share in the winery in 1932 eventually securing full ownership.

Although the Shirazes have an impressive heritage, based on 1880 vines and having once been made by Maurice O’Shea, the overall style is blurred. The OP and OH (Old Paddock and Old Hill) Shiraz, Rosehill Shiraz and Maurice O’Shea Shiraz are all consistent and beautifully evocative Hunter reds. These are all emerging wines on the secondary market, slowly gathering momentum as the market rediscovers the beauty of the Hunter Valley.

Mitchelton, Nagambie Lakes

Located near Tahbilk, Mitchelton was established by Ross Shelmerdine a Melbourne entrepreneur in 1969 at Blackwood Park, an old grazing station on the edge of Nagambie Lakes. The vineyard site is adjacent to an important early river crossing, discovered in 1836 by Major Mitchell who opened up the route between Sydney and Melbourne.

Colin Preece (of Seppelt Great Western fame) steered this venture through the early years. From 1974 Don Lewis, the retired but long standing and long suffering winemaker, built up a strong and loyal following. Mitchelton is now a member of the large Lion Nathan group, the owners of Stoniers, Petaluma and St Hallett.

The highly seductive and perfumed Central Victorian Mitchelton Print Shiraz came to prominence in 1991 when it won the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy for the 1990 vintage. Then154 hectare Mitchelton estate vineyard hugs a horseshoe bend of the Goulburn River. This body of cool water can moderate temperatures by up to 2 degrees Centigrade. The wine is based on selected fruit from the 35 year old Crescent and D Blocks located respectively on alluvial red brown loam soils and heavier clays. These gnarled “phylloxerated” and low yielding vines have somehow survived through symbiosis. The 15 year old Airstrip Block – on rootstocks – also contributes exceptional fruit.

Winemaking follows the maxim: ‘Maximum attention, minimum intervention’. The wine is fermented in headed down static fermenters and matured for 16-18 months in a combination of new (around 35-40%) and old French oak. This is a superbly concentrated single estate wine with chocolaty tannin structures and mocha oak complexity.

The Heathcote Shiraz is archetypal.

Mount Langi Ghiran, Grampians

Langi Ghiran means ‘The home of the yellow tailed black cockatoo’. The Fratin brothers planted the vineyards in the late 1960s. The late Trevor Mast, Best’s Great Western’s winemaker at the time, was the winemaking consultant for many years, before purchasing the property in 1987.

The winery and land was subsequently purchased in 2002 by the Rathbone Family Group, owners of Yering Station, Parker Coonawarra Estate and Xanadu. The spectacular vineyard, originally planted in the late 1960’s, lies at the base of the 540 metre cliff face of Mt Langi Ghiran. The well ventilated site is trellised to an arched cane system which promotes an open canopy and more even budburst. Vinification takes place in shallow open fermenters with regular hand plunging. The wine is aged in a combination of American and French oak barriques and puncheons for approximately 12 months before bottling.

The wine is renowned for its hallmark spice aromas. Mast believed this was partly explained by the old vine selection introduced by Swiss settlers and the particularly long ripening period in autumn. In a cool vintage the wine shows distinct white pepper/raspberry aromas and flavours. In warm years it can have intense raspberry/blackberry/cracked pepper aromas but ripe elegantly structured palate. In a great vintage it can outclass some of the most famous Shirazes in the country.

Significant capital investment has allowed expansion of vineyards and a new winery. Langi Shiraz is still considered one of the top five Shirazes from Victoria. The wines are elegant, fruit-driven styles, underpinned by a combination of American and French oak of varying ages and sizes. Restrained but complex, with long-term ageing potential, they make excellent foils to the Barossa Valley style.

The Langi Shiraz is a strong market performer especially for recognised vintages. Its resilience is further illustrated by the solid price realisations when unusually high volumes have reached the secondary wine market. The young vines Cliff Edge and independently grown Billi Billi Shirazes are second and third tier wines of varying success.

Paringa Estate, Mornington Peninsula

Paringa Estate, located at Red Hill in the Mornington Peninsula, is a much feted label with an extraordinary track record of gold wine show medals, trophies and other accolades. Established in 1988 by schoolteacher Lindsay McCall with limited capital and resources the winery has since thrived with the reputation of making one of the finest Pinot Noirs in the country and an outstandingly beautiful Shiraz.

Paringa Estate first specialised in red grapes because “red wine could be made in the garage and you didn’t need refrigeration”. Paringa has about 10 acres of vines and a further two leased/managed vineyards in Callanan’s Road and Paringa Road, all on basalt clay soils. The Lyre (or U) trellised vineyards are designed to divide the canopy and maximise light penetration and fruit quality. Vineyard management is all about achieving optimum ripeness in what is often regarded as a marginal wine-growing region.

The Reserve Shiraz, with its remarkable blackberry pastille/pepper aromas and richly concentrated palate, is an utterly seductive style.

Lindsay McCall is an absolute master of his craft.

Penfolds, Barossa Valley

Penfolds is probably the most extraordinary of the world’s wine brands with an enviable reputation for quality at every price level. The original Penfold was an English doctor who, in 1844, planted grapes at Magill, now a suburb of Adelaide. It is really only since the late 1940s that Penfolds has forged a reputation for red wine. Penfolds traditional reds are mostly multi-regional blends.

Penfolds House Style emerged from a fortified wine producing culture and evolved as a winemaking philosophy – a way of making wine – which has had a profound effect on the entire Australian wine industry. The development of red table wines during the 1950s was underpinned by an investment in new vineyards, winemaking equipment, skilled personnel and perhaps most importantly research and experimentation.

Penfolds already had a reputation (within the wine industry) for its ground-breaking work during the 1930s and 1940s in overcoming spoilage and wine stability problems, an industry-wide concern. It employed a full-time chemist, Ray Beckwith, to investigate and research every aspect of the wine making process and to develop ways of improving all Penfolds wines. His contribution underpinned the extraordinary creative development of Penfolds Grange and St Henri during the 1950s by Max Schubert and John Davoren.

A preventative winemaking making regime, a team of highly intuitive and imaginative winemakers, and benevolent, production-orientated owners (particularly Jeffrey Penfold Hyland) provided an atmosphere of creativity and innovation. The remarkable ‘Story of Grange’ written by Max Schubert gives an insightful view of the times. While he was ordered to stop production of Grange in 1957, Penfolds had already set an irrevocable course towards table wine production.

The friendly rivalry between Max Schubert and John Davoren resulted in a wide, rather than narrow winemaking perspective. However the development of Grange had a major impact on Penfolds winemaking culture. St Henri, a traditional style, inevitably played a cameo role. Penfolds House Style embraces the concept of multi-regional blending, optimum fruit quality, the use of fine-grained American (and increasingly French) oak, barrel fermentation and maturation.

Max Schubert, who was appointed production manager at Magill Estate in 1948, was an early proponent of regional definition. His fascination and specific demands of fruit quality resulted in a comprehensive understanding of vineyard performance. He said, “The development of a new commercial wine, particularly of the high grade range, depends on the quality and availability of the raw material, the maintenance of standard and continuity of style.” He achieved this through identifying specific vineyards sites and developing relationships with growers. He once observed, while developing Grange, that using Shiraz from two specific vineyards would “result in an improved all-round wine”.

During the 1950s Max Schubert searched widely for suitable fruit particularly in the foothills around Adelaide, McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley. Both Max Schubert and John Davoren were mindful of vinification and maturation practices in Bordeaux. The development of both Grange and St Henri was modelled on Claret styles. The availability of Bordeaux grape varieties in South Australia, however, was limited. Schubert soon favoured Shiraz, largely because of the spectrum of ripe flavours, tannin structures and the relative ease of supply. He struggled initially with Cabernet Sauvignon because of its scarcity and capricious nature in the South Australian climate.

John Davoren was also similarly constrained although both winemakers would use Cabernet to add perfume and structure to their wines. The release of Bin 389 in 1960, a Cabernet Shiraz blend which is now considered the quintessential Australian wine, reflects the winemaking attitude of the time: that Cabernet Sauvignon did not have the power or mid palate intensity to be made as a single wine. Improved vineyard management, site selection and winemaking have resulted in the subsequent releases of Bin 707 and Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The concept of multi-regional and vineyard blending – a feature of the Penfolds House style – is an amplification of the ‘all-round wine’. Without the constraints of a single vineyard, winemakers could choose the best possible fruit with “the outstanding characteristics of each vineyard”. This idea gathered pace during the 1960s, largely as a result of the success of Bin 389 and experimental cross-regional blends such as Penfolds Bin 60A. This method of fruit selection also contributed to a consistency of style. As the volume of production increased over the years a method of classification was introduced to earmark particular fruit for individual Bin numbers. This selection process has been further refined allowing extraordinary blending options. The Rewards of Patience tasting showed that optimising fruit quality in blends does not compromise vintage character.

The felicitous choice of using American oak was one of availability. Max Schubert had noticed during his visit to Bordeaux in 1949 that some winemakers used new “raw” oak during vinification and maturation. Actually he stumbled across a rare practice. Few Clarets at that time completed fermentation in barrel. However it was true that top Chateau employed new oak during maturation, the percentage used depending on the quality of the vintage. His experiments with Shiraz and American oak were profound. He discovered that if the wine completed fermentation in new American oak the two components would generate a tremendous “volume of bouquet and flavour”. Max Schubert remarked that, “It was almost as if the new wood had acted as a catalyst to release previously unsuspected flavours from the Hermitage (sic) grape.”

The release of Bin 128 Coonawarra Shiraz and Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz in 1962 pre-empted the contemporary enthusiasm for regional definition by about 25 years. Max Schubert applied many of the techniques used in the research and development of Grange, using American oak and barrel fermentation. All the same the difference between the ripe opulent Bin 28 and elegant structured Bin 128 illustrate strong regional differences.

While American oak has played a central role in the development of Penfolds red wines, French oak has been increasingly used in the evolution of new wines, particularly RWT and Yattarna. Don Ditter, who became Chief Winemaker in 1975, introduced French oak to the elegantly structured Bin 128 as a way of refining the style and emphasizing its regional characteristics. RWT Barossa Shiraz, which is barrel fermented, is also particularly suited to the savoury nuances of French oak. Nowadays Magill Estate Shiraz is matured in two thirds French oak and Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon in 50% French oak.

Maturation in oak, which follows fermentation, is also a key to the Penfold House Style. Penfolds Grange, which is matured in American oak for a period of 18 months, benefits greatly from the ageing process where aromas and flavours derived from both fruit and oak evolve and tannins polymerise and soften. At the other end of the spectrum is Penfolds St Henri which benefits from the maturation effect rather than from the influence of new oak.

The Penfolds approach to winemaking has percolated through the Australian wine industry over the last 50 years. The use of American oak and barrel fermentation – for instance – is considered these days as a traditional Barossa winemaking practice! The techniques employed in the research and development of Penfolds wines are astonishing. Max Schubert and his team pioneered: major advances in yeast technology and paper chromatography; the understanding and use of pH in controlling bacterial spoilage; the use of headed down/submerged cap fermentation and the technique of rack and return; cold fermentation practices; the use of American oak as a maturation vessel and perhaps most critically – partial barrel fermentation. The Penfolds Wine Making Philosophy is the accumulation of more than half-a-century of knowledge and winemaking practice initiated by Max Schubert and subsequently refined by Don Ditter, John Duval and Peter Gago.

Overall, the Penfolds style is about highly-defined fruit aromas, fruit sweetness, ripe tannins, richness, power and concentration. Penfolds Grange, Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, St Henri, Magill Estate and Bin 389 Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz are all strongly sought after on the secondary wine market.

Penfolds RWT Barossa Shiraz is a strengthening prestige wine based on Barossa fruit. Both Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz and Bin128 Coonawarra Shiraz can hardly be described as little wines, even though they are at the lower end of the Penfolds hierarchy.

Despite this, winemakers have always been allowed to research and experiment with new wines and styles. This has resulted in a remarkable list of great, interesting and innovative wines. Penfolds Bin 60A, a 1962 blend of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon and Kalimna Shiraz, has often been described as the greatest red wine ever made in Australia. Bin 620 Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 1966 and Bin 7 of 1967 were also well sought after.

The most famous recent experimental wines are Bin 80A-1980, Bin 820-1982, Bin 90A-1990, Bin 920-1990, Bin 60A 2004 each reflecting the original styles of the 1960s.

Peter Lehmann, Barossa Valley

As a young man Peter Lehmann worked at Yalumba during the 1940s, beginning a lifetime of great achievement in the Barossa Valley. He is one of the most important characters in the Barossa. The son of a Lutheran pastor, Lehmann kept the spirit alive during periods of severe economic downturn. His reward is access to some of the very best fruit in the Barossa Valley.

The winery owns approximately 73 hectares of vineyard including the famed Stonewell Vineyard. However this only amounts to approximately 3% of production. The winery relies hugely on the trust, loyalty and friendships that have been built up with independent growers over the last 40 years.

With a reputation for making quality Shiraz since the 1950s Lehmann’s foil of 24 vintages is Andrew Wigan who represents in winemaking terms a blend of traditional thought and modern practice. Stonewell Shiraz reflects a fundamental truth of the wine industry: that vineyards, left alone, are the only constant. Superb, immensely concentrated, low-yield fruit, combined with skilled winemaking, is the basis of this great Australian Shiraz.

The wine is derived from 14 Shiraz vineyards located in the drier sub-districts of the Barossa, such as Stonewell (hence the name), Marananga, Greenock, Kalimna and Ebenezer. Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz is made from the best, most concentrated, parcels from each vintage. It is a classical/modern style, barrel fermented in new French and American oak and then matured for up to 2 years in the same barrels. These wines show plenty of Christmas cake/plum/chocolate aromas, sweet fruit, structured tannins, well-seasoned oak flavours and tremendous length. This wine is hugely undervalued when compared to other Barossa classics.

The beautifully packaged Eight Songs Barossa Valley Shiraz, matured in French oak and produced in minute quantities, has a compelling regional quality.

Peter and Margaret Lehmann are still involved in the wine business and actively involved in the Barossa community. Peter’s son Douglas, and Peter and Margaret’s son Phil (almost a generation apart), both continue to fly the family flag at Peter Lehmann. This family’s contribution to the Barossa is a great Australian story. Without question Peter Lehmann is a living legend; a man possessing great wisdom and courage. Not to mention the best “short order cook” in the state.

Since 2003 Peter Lehmann Wines has been a member of the Hess Group – owner of four great wineries under one sky: Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa Valley, The Hess Collection Winery in the Napa Valley, Glen Carlou in South Africa and Bodega Colomé in Argentina.

Pikes, Clare Valley

Like Mitchell, this small Clare Valley producer deserves more recognition for its beautifully defined Rieslings and fruit driven Shirazes. Pikes Wines was established in 1984 by Neil and Andrew Pike and now comprises 140 acres/55 hectares of southeast facing vineyard planted on red/brown earth over yellow clay subsoil and slate in the cool Polish Hill River sub-region of the Clare Valley.

The vines are trellised to a single wire with moveable foliage wires for vertical shoot positioning. Supplementary irrigation is used only when necessary. The fruit is all picked by hand at optimum ripeness.

All of the old reserve wines have been given new names based on family.The Merle Riesling (named after Merle Pike) is a profoundly aromatic and concentrated wine with plenty of lemon curd aromas and minerally acidity. The EWP Reserve Shiraz – with a touch of Viognier – is named after Edgar Walter Pike and is matured for 24 months in new French oak.

Plantagenet Mount Barker, Great Southern

When original proprietor Tony Smith, a member of the prominent British bookselling family, established a sheep farm in the very isolated Great Southern region of Western Australia it took a few years for him to realise that the future was in ultra-fine wine rather than ultra-fine wool.

The vineyards are the oldest in the Mount Barker sub-region producing extraordinarily high quality fruit.

The Shiraz (first vintage 1974) is a definitive Great Southern style and derives principally from the estate’s cool climate vineyards Bouverie and Wyjup and the warmer sited Charleston Vineyard. The wine is matured in 40% new and old French oak for a period of 16-18 months.

Plantagenet, now owned by WA based family owned Lionel Samson Group, has established a very fine reputation for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Rockford, Barossa Valley

Robert O’Callaghan belongs to a genre of visionary winemakers that include Max Schubert, Peter Lehmann, Jeffrey Grosset, Brian Croser and David Hohnen. His proteges include Chris Ringland and Dave Powell. Rockford wines have had a profound influence on winemaking philosophy and wine style in the Barossa.

During the early 1980s the technocrats and style merchants said the future was cool climate viticulture – literally causing a widespread uprooting of old vines – known as the vine pull scheme. Robert O'Callaghan's deep sense of history and belief in traditional Barossa values began a vinous counter-reformation. He has singularly inspired a whole generation of Barossa winemakers.

Rockford embraces the inherent qualities of old vine Shiraz: the physicality of winemaking where muscle and personal touch transform process into an art-form; the traditional tools of trade (basket press, open fermenter) and the complementary nuances of American and French oak maturation without smothering fruit. O'Callaghan's commitment to labour-intensive techniques for the sake of going the extra mile in quality makes Rockford Basket Press the quintessential hand-made wine. It encapsulates traditional and contemporary winemaking practice and philosophy.

The Shiraz fruit is sourced from local growers on many of the best dry grown old vine Shiraz vineyards in the Barossa including around Kalimna, Ebenezer, Moppa Springs, the Eden Valley and Central Barossa. The vines are between 60 and 136 years old, giving fruit of tremendous colour, power and richness. Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, now presented in the most lovely brown 50s style bottle, is made in the classic mould with strong, ripe, blackberry and fine chocolate fruit characters underscored by excellent palate richness, well-seasoned American and French oak and ripe tannins. This is a very approachable wine style suited to both relatively early drinking and medium to long term cellaring. It is curious that so many people think of this wine as being massively structured – as it is so clearly not!

O'Callaghan also makes a mean but idiosyncratic Sparkling Black Shiraz, a style that is highly sought after. It is a non-vintage wine, although the date of tirage is on the back label. This wine is produced in minute quantities and is absolutely delicious – the ‘crave factor’ can override all logic.

The Home Block is a cellar-door-only release. Rockford has recently released a special selection of single vineyard Shirazes – Flaxman (Eden Ridge), Moorooroo (near Kalimna) and Hoffman (Ebenezer). These wines are ‘one-offs’, especially made for Robert O’Callaghan’s long term and loyal customers. They are completely different to his Basket Press, embracing the fascination of single vineyards, sub-regional provenance and fruit power.

O’Callaghan is keen to keep Rockford away from the trophy hunters and maintain a price level that is affordfor his customers. His long-term supporters are a major priority. It is ironic therefore that quality, reputation and scarcity make such a double-edged sword.

Saltram, Barossa Valley

Saltram’s first vintage was in 1862 and comprised 8,200 litres of Shiraz wine. Established by William Salter, it is one of the Barossa’s early producers. In 1876 Saltram won a medal at the Philadelphia International Exhibition. In 1882, it made an arrangement with Thomas Hardy and Sons to market Saltram wines in the UK. In 1891 the winery purchased a hydraulic press and a four horsepower steam engine. A cooling system was also employed where cold water was pumped through copper pipes to cool down fermentation.

The winery fell out of family hands in 1941 when it became a subsidiary of H.M Martin of Stonyfell. Saltram has only had 8 winemakers, including the great Peter Lehmann. Saltram has had its fair share of takeovers. It is famous for the Metala Shiraz Cabernet, released under the Stonyfell name and then Saltram. It was one of the most popular dry reds of the 1960s and at one stage ‘pound for pound’ a real competitor to Penfolds Grange.

However the Saltram and Stonyfell connection was confusing and the vision for the future blurred by poor marketing. The Saltram Mamrebrook is a popular commercial brand. Saltram No. I Shiraz is a top notch Barossa Shiraz and fills a gap in the premium market at its price point. It’s more than half-decent and worth seeking out.

The Eighth maker Shiraz is an ultra plush Barossa Shiraz made by eighth winemaker Nigel Dolan, whose father Brian was also winemaker and manager during the 1950s and 1960s. This is an attempt to make something different and expensive. The 2002 vintage won the Jimmy Watson Trophy – which kind of says it all. Nigel Dolan has since shifted camps and moved up to the Hunter Valley at Wyndham Estate.


Seppelt Great Western, Grampians

Seppelt at Great Western was built at the end of the gold rush when scores of out-of-work prospectors built its extensive drives and cellars. Originally established by Joseph Best, it passed to Hans Irvine and then to Seppelt in 1918.

Seppelt Great Western is where Colin Preece, one of the fathers of the modern day wine industry, also plied his craft. Retired winemaker Ian Mackenzie steered Seppelt during the 1980s and 1990s as its chief winemaker and architect. This venerable old winery is now a Victorian icon representing a connection with the past, but also illustrating the possibilities of the future.

Seppelt St Peters Great Western Shiraz is sourced from low yielding vineyards and planted on weathered volcanic soils. St Peter’s Vineyard and Imperial Vineyard were established in the 1930s and Police and McKenzie Vineyards established in the late 1970s. The fruit is cold soaked before batch vinification in a combination of static and open top fermenters. It takes about 5 days before natural ferments commence. A combination of pump over and rack and returns are used to extract colour and flavour. The wine is left on skins for between 10 and 20 days post ferment to extract the “beautiful powdery tannins”.

After draining and pressing the wine is typically matured in French oak for a period of 18 months in around 30% new and 60% one and two year old French oak. Seppelt Great Western Shiraz is a style in evolution. More recent vintages are fruit driven with bright blueberry/mulberry/blackberry aromas, fine chalky tannins and fruit concentration.

Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz is both an Australian Classic and a curiosity. The wine has been made at Great Western in Central Victoria for over a century. At one stage the wine drew fruit from as far afield as the Barossa Valley, yet it has remained incredibly consistent across vintages. Nowadays the wine has become a sparkling version of the St Peter’s Great Western Shiraz. The wine is made in exactly the same way but is matured in large oak vats for a further 12 months. It is then triaged (addition of liqueur and yeast for secondary bottle fermentation and bottle aged) for a further 8 years before disgorgement. This is a highly eccentric style and the absolute pinnacle of its type. This is a “dry table wine with bubbles”; the beautiful creaminess and yeasty complexity is derived from a long period of bottle age. The wines have remarkable cellaring life.

St Hallett, Barossa Valley

The Lindner Family established St Hallett in the heart of the Barossa Valley near Tanunda in 1944. After a relatively sleepy beginning producing fortified wines, the winery restructured its ownership. The rumbustious pioneering energy of Barossa legend Bob McLean during the 1980s and 1990s saw an extraordinary metamorphosis.

Stuart Blackwell, St Hallett’s senior winemaker, oversaw the development of St Hallet Old Block Shiraz, perhaps one of the most successful ultra-fine Barossa Shirazes and an early cult-type wine. The move towards larger scale winemaking has perhaps taken the lustre off Old Block Shiraz, but it still remains something of a Barossa classic.

In the early 1980s the original Old Block vineyard was nearly pulled out because demand was so poor. The Old Block Shiraz is one of the leading wines of the district, a Shiraz reflecting the traditional Barossa Valley style. The fruit is sourced from a rich palette of 28 low-yielding, old vine vineyards in the Barossa, located in the higher elevated areas around Eden Valley and Springton to the Barossa Floor, especially around Ebenezer and Lyndoch. Soil types, aspects and meso-climates vary, although most of the vines are between 70 and 100 years old. The vines, mostly trellised to a single wire, are all hand-pruned and hand-picked. Vintage takes place on the valley floor in March and continues right through until late April. The wine is matured for three years in predominantly French oak, although earlier vintages were aged in American oak. The style is warm, rich and full-bodied with complex, plum/mulberry and dark chocolate aromas, soft tannins and vanillin oak. It has excellent cellaring potential.

Stanton and Killeen, Rutherglen

The lure of gold and untold wealth drew many families to the gold fields of North East Victoria. In 1855 Timothy Stanton, a mechanic from Suffolk, made the journey to Australia eventually buying land at Rutherglen in 1864 with his son John Lewis Stanton.

By the 1920s the Parkview winery and vineyards were flourishing under the ownership of John Richard Stanton. The Depression, not to mention Phylloxera, caused financial ruination for many vignerons including the original Stanton business at Parkview. However JR’s son Jack Stanton’s Graceray property managed to stay in family hands.

In 1953 Stanton and Killeen was formed as a result of marriage. Norman Killeen (he married Jack’s daughter Joan) took over the business in 1948 and steered the business to prosperity once again. Norman’s son Chris Killeen, who died at the age of 52 in 2007, took over the winery in 1981 as winemaker. He was a brilliant winemaker and a great collector of fortified wines from around the world (he bought quite a few bottles through Langton’s). His obituary described him as “one of the last great port makers in this country which is almost criminal but it’s the truth.”

The Stanton and Killeen property extends to 300 hectares of mixed farming land with around 30 hectares planted on well drained gravels and red loams over clay. Some of the original vineyards planted by Jack Stanton in 1921 still survive.

The Jack’s Block Limited Release Shiraz is not only a great Rutherglen rich chocolaty style but is also used as blending material in the highly regarded S&K Vintage Port (which comprises 4 port grape varieties).

Tahbilk, Nagambie Lakes

Near Nagambie lies Tabilk Tabilk (‘place of many waterholes’), an important early river crossing for travellers. Tahbilk (with an ‘h’), known until recently as Chateau Tahbilk, is Victoria’s oldest family-owned winery, celebrating almost 140 years of continuous wine production. It has played a hugely important role in the development of the modern Australian wine trade. For over 75 years it has been a vini-cultural centre of wine; a meeting point of some of Australia’s most influential wine intelligentsia.

A pagoda style weatherboard tower commands the winery complex, which dates back to this time. The fabulous new cellar was excavated in 1875. This place reeks of history. Indeed a National Trust plaque near the cellar door recognises this property as being "among highly significant examples of early rural architecture worthy of preservation".

The Purbrick Family bought the property in 1925. Alister Purbrick is a third generation winemaker who has modernised Tahbilk without abandoning the past. Tahbilk produces a wide range of wines and is particularly known for its high-standard Shirazes and Cabernet Sauvignons. 1860s vines Shiraz derives from a small patch of half hectare ungrafted pre-Phylloxera, original Estate planted vines and is amongst some of the oldest direct producing Shiraz vines in the world. The wine is both a curio and an experience. The fruit is handpicked and fermented in century old oak vats before maturation in French oak for 18 months prior to bottling. The wine is further aged in bottle for four years "bottle-aging" before release making it 6 years after vintage before it reaches market.

The label design harks back to an original Tahbilk wine label used during the 1870s although the 1979 vintage was the first of this release. Produced in miniscule quantities, this wine is made very much in the traditional fashion. The term ‘old vines’ often suggests deeply concentrated wines, but this style is more elegant with plummy/chocolaty/berry fruit flavours and looseknit gravelly tannin structures. The Reserve type wines are now re-badged Eric Stevens Purbrick Shiraz from 1933 vines and Eric Stevens Purbrick Cabernet Sauvignon are both muscular but resonating styles with plenty of cellaring future.

Tahbilk is a Victorian icon – in the truest sense of the world.

Teusner Wines, Barossa Valley

Teusner Wines is a relative newcomer to the ultra-fine wine scene. The business was established in 2001 after a conversation between family members about the future viability of an old dry grown Grenache vineyard in the Northern Barossa.

Kym Teusner, Adelaide University trained and Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine’s young Winemaker of the Year in 2007, is seen as an up and coming star. His Joshua Grenache is a beautifully balanced style without excess richness. The wines are utterly delicious.

The Avatar Grenache Mataro (nice to see the use of its local name rather than Mourvedre) Shiraz is an emerging Rhone blend which has more volume but remains minerally and easy to drink. These wines are matured in hogsheads for 24 months before release.

Kym Teusner’s business partner Michael Page looks after the vineyards. The Riebke Shiraz, matured in older American and French oak hogsheads, is a maturation style based on Ebenezer sub-regional fruit. The Albert Shiraz is a more traditional red based on old vine (45-90 year old) material.

The aim is to make exceptional, affordable wines with an emphasis on fruit selection and minimal handling. Much of the fruit is sourced through family or close friends. Production is still relatively small but the future is really big. Teusner Wines is a member of the Artisans of the Barossa.

Tim Adams, Clare Valley

Tim Adams is not unlike his wine. Robust and blunt, he appears abrupt, if not distant, until you start talking. Then the richness and generosity appears. He is the son of a local bank manager who fell into winemaking.

Adams is a classic self-reliant Australian with excellent bush engineering skills and could run a car on the smell of an oily rag. He has achieved rapid success by identifying that he should concentrate on developing his winemaking enterprise rather than invest in vineyards.

Tim Adams is making extremely fine Shiraz, a variety that he is passionate about. His oak regime is also fundamental to his style. “I use exclusively American oak from eight different coopers from Australia, the United States and France.” According to Adams, this combination gives strong vanillin characters with subtle nuances of cloves and cinnamon. Tim Adams, with his wife Pam Goldsack, established his winery in 1986 after an early career with Stanley Leasingham, first as cellar hand and then eventually as a winemaker.

His winery is located near Wendouree, towards the northern edge of Clare. It crushes approximately 1000 tonnes of grapes, sourced from varied established growers and from its own vineyards throughout the valley. It also provides contract winemaking services to smaller vignerons in the area. The intensely perfumed and muscular Aberfeldy Shiraz reflects the character of vineyard site as much as the personality of the winemaker. The independently owned four acre Aberfeldy Vineyard was originally a part of the adjacent Wendouree property and comprises a large proportion of original old vine dry grown Shiraz planted by Alfred Percy Birks in 1904. This is also older clonal material with very high seed content and larger berries.

Vinification takes place in closed top fermenters with regular pumping over and extended skin maceration. After basket pressing it spends 12 months in one year old oak, mostly American, before transfer to new three to four years air dried American oak for a further eight months. This is a deeply concentrated opulent style with blackberry aromas, malty/cedary oak and a firm tannin kick. The underlying structure is reminiscent of the Wendouree style and is yet another strong example of top notch Clare Valley Shiraz.

Tim Adams Shiraz is also of a high standard and worth seeking out. The Tim Adams style is certainly leaning towards the firm adroit style, a bit like Tim’s handshake.

Turkey Flat, Barossa Valley

Turkey Flat, named after the bush turkeys that used to roam freely, was established by fourth generation grape growers Peter and Christie Schulz at their property on the banks of Tanunda Creek.

Johann Friedrich August Fiedler, one of the Silesian pioneers brought out by William Angas, planted the first Shiraz vines in 1843. Gottlieb Ernst Schulz, a butcher whose family later ventured into dairy farming, purchased the property in 1865. A modern, Italian designed state-of-the-art winery was recently built adjacent to the historic bluestone butcher’s shop.

The Turkey Flat Shiraz is a classic Barossa style with fruit sourced from various vineyards of varying ages. Vintage takes place typically in late March/April. Fermentation is allowed to run between 18 and 24 degrees Centigrade. The wine is generally macerated on skins for a period of about 7 days before being drained and pressed off. This is followed by maturation for 22 months in a combination of new and seasoned French and American oak hogsheads. Turkey Flat Shiraz is a really well regarded wine on the secondary wine market. In the context of Barossa Shiraz it offers strong regional provenance at a more affordable level. The wines often show dark cherry/chocolaty aromas and flavours, ripe textured tannins and plenty of fruit sweetness, concentration and length.

Tyrrell’s, Hunter Valley

In 1850 Edward Tyrrell arrived in Sydney. He was granted 330 acres of prime Hunter Valley land, planting his first vines in 1858. Tyrrell’s first vintage in 1864 began a family tradition of winemaking in the Hunter Valley. His original slab hut is still standing today. Tyrrell’s still harvests Shiraz fruit from blocks planted in 1879 and 1892 on bright red clay, the core provenance of Tyrrell’s Vat 9. The economic slump in the 1930s, however, saw a decline in production as demand waned. Tyrrell’s has managed to survive. Indeed ‘Dan’ Tyrrell supervised 75 vintages before his death at the age 86 (His old slab hut still stands). During his years as winemaker most of the wine was sold to Maurice O’Shea, a highly skilled winemaker who is regarded as one of the pioneers of the modern-day Australian wine industry.

Tyrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz is a traditional maturation style of Hunter Shiraz. The emphasis is on elegance, softness and ‘somewhereness’.

Wirra Wirra, McLaren Vale

In 1969 the late (and wonderful) Greg Trott and brother Roger purchased the old ruins of the Wirra Wirra winery and lovingly rebuilt it to its former glory. The original cellars were built by South Australian eccentric, cricketer and hell raiser Robert Strangways Wigley. The original vineyards were planted in 1894 and he made his first wines with Alec Johnston at Pirramimma in 1897.

By 1903, Wirra Wirra was an impressive business with state of the art winemaking facilities and 240 acres of landholdings. The wines were imported by Burgoyne’s of London, one of the pioneering importers of Australian wine. The family sold all but the old disused winery and surrounding 7 acres around 1936.

His winery was rebuilt with local quarried slate and ironstone, and bricks from 19th century buildings. Old Oregon beams, jarrah railway sleepers and flooring from various demolished buildings were also used. Robert O’Callaghan of Rockford in the Barossa was certainly inspired by this extraordinary vision. The vineyards are located on deep alluvial river flats.

The RSW Shiraz, a 100% McLaren Vale wine, is named after the stencils used by the original owner. This wine is vinified in static and open fermenters, partially barrel fermented and matured in a combination of new (up to 70%), American (usually around 5-20%) and French (80-95%) oak barriques. The wine is a classic McLaren Vale Shiraz with dense choco-berry fruit and a fair whack of new oak. The Church Block is named after an original vineyard at nearby Bethany (not to be confused with Bethany in the Barossa). This savoury maturation style, first released in 1972, sees no more than 15% new oak.

Yalumba, Barossa Valley

Samuel Smith established the Yalumba winery in 1849. It is Australia’s oldest family wine company. Yalumba owns vineyards and sources fruit primarily in the Barossa and Coonawarra. Robert Hill-Smith, who presides over the family enterprise, has managed to combine conservatism and tradition with up-to-date winemaking technology and thinking. Indeed he is something of a visionary. He has had a strong winemaking team for years in the form of the hugely influential Brian Walsh and Louisa Rose – a brilliantly intuitive winemaker whose white wines are some of the best in the country.

Yalumba The Octavius is made from dry grown Shiraz with an average age of around 85-90 years, the oldest from a vineyard planted in 1908. The wines are matured for two years in small American oak Octaves (barrels of 80 litres) coopered at Yalumba winery. Missouri timbers are left out in the elements for eight years to leach out undesirable flavours in the oak. With a higher than normal surface area-to-wine ratio, Octavius is a wine of great richness, intensity and power. Its pronounced vanillin, blackberry/liquorice aromas, ripe tannins, sweet fruit and extract, all suggest longevity. The wine is beautifully made and deserves a reputation as one of the Barossa’s best Shirazes. It is tremendous to see The Octavius reach a new level of stardom.

The Yalumba Reserve Cabernet Shiraz is made only in special vintages from prime parcels of Barossa and smaller tranches of Coonawarra and Langhorne Creek fruit. It is usually never more than a 20 barrel selection. The Menzies – named after Australia’s longest serving prime minister (and wine aficionado of some note) – is a Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon vinified along typical Bordelais lines and is matured in 33% new French oak hogsheads for up to 24 months.

The Signature, first vintage in 1962, is a Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz blend partially barrel fermented and matured in a combination of new and old American and French oak hogsheads. Each vintage honours the contribution of key staffers from winemakers to sales persons. The 1999 was dedicated to all Yalumba employees past and present to celebrate 150 years. The Signature has become such a wonderful wine institution. With a lineage of four decades and proven cellaring potential it deserves recognition as a great Australian wine.

Yalumba is a great Australian wine institution. If Penfolds Grange is a secondary wine market indicator, Yalumba is an industry bell-weather. Its ongoing success is hugely important for the confidence and positive sentiment of the overall Australian wine industry.

Yarra Yering, Yarra Valley

The late Dr. Bailey Carrodus was one of the great characters of the Yarra Valley, producing highly individual wines that owe as much to his high quality vineyards as to his winemaking theories. They are wines literally out of the box. Hundreds of enthusiasts throng to his cellar door to pick up a few precious bottles of No. 1 or No. 2 each year.

Carrodus established Yarra Yering in 1969, purchasing prime vineyard land at Gruyere near Coldstream in the Yarra Valley Victoria, once a thriving wine community during the late 1800s. His search for suitable vineyard land was based on a simple premise: that it should be where vines had thrived before and had avoided the threat of spring frost damage. Armed with a contour map he eventually chose what is now regarded as one of the choicest vineyard sites in the region. The vineyard, now about 70 acres, is planted on a north-facing midriff of hillside on deep, broken-up secondary gravelly soils with excellent drainage.

The cellar was originally set up so a single person could run it. The winery is making more wine than the early days, but the system is kept more or less intact. His objective was to make wines of complexity, palate evenness and after taste. He liked to ferment his wines at warm temperatures in small open fermenters. Indeed, he had 92 of them. Carrodus believed that he should keep in the background and allow the wines to speak for themselves, but admitted that the wines did have some of the winemaker’s thumbprint.

Yarra Yering No 2 – [the shiraz] - has a touch of Viognier – is vinified in open fermenters before extended skin maceration to increase complexity and tannin balance. At dryness the wine is drained and pressed and then transferred into 30% new and previously used 'closely textured' Seguin Moreau French oak for a maturation period of up to 22 months. It is hard to pin point this style as it is quite individual and subject to vintage variation. The best vintages show intense raspberry/choco-berry aromas, touches of white pepper, ripe tannin structures and plenty of flavour complexity.

It is something of a dark horse, but on reflection this has always been its charm.

Summary

The wineries covered above are just some of the main players worth seeking out. I purposely discarded the Barossa Dead Fruit Association and their cronies, as I detest this style of winemaking and (just about) everything it represents.

There are literally hundreds of small producers in Coonawarra, Central Victoria, Canberra District, Orange, Mudgee, Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Lower Great Southern (WA), Hunter Valley, Rutherglen, Grampians etc, etc that make compelling, attractive, tasty and not too alcoholic or overoaked shiraz, but I doubt if they would be easy to source.
Last edited by David Lole on Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Cheers,

David
User avatar
User

Bob Parsons Alberta

Rank

aka Doris

Posts

9675

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:41 pm

That is one great write-up David, worthy of printing off for future reference.
User avatar
User

Bob Parsons Alberta

Rank

aka Doris

Posts

9675

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:36 am

Paringa Estate, Mornington Peninsula

Paringa Estate, located at Red Hill in the Mornington Peninsula, is a much feted label with an extraordinary track record of gold wine show medals, trophies and other accolades. Established in 1988 by schoolteacher Lindsay McCall with limited capital and resources the winery has since thrived with the reputation of making one of the finest Pinot Noirs in the country and an outstandingly beautiful Shiraz.


I remember the Paringa Shiraz from a few years back and at the time felt worth buying more in the future. The agent at the time seemed to drop the line soon after but luckily the Shiraz has appeared back on the shelf. I understand the PN is one to look out for, also the sparkling Shiraz.

Tonite, I have just opened the 2010 Shiraz SC, served slightly chilled, open one hour. $20 Cdn, 14% alc. Nice medium depth of color, nose is vibrant with blackberry and some currants, hint of grated spices. Dry entry on the palate, integrated tannins, very good length. Not oak dominated, very berryish and good acidity. Not even close to a RP fruit bomb, plenty of restraint here. "Has some velvet tones" from across the table, went well with pork scallopini and linguini in a butter cream parmesan sauce.

******edit. I have to admit a mistake, my Paringa was from McLaren Vale. Sory about that. :oops:

Bravo!
Last edited by Bob Parsons Alberta on Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:58 am, edited 3 times in total.
no avatar
User

Tim York

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

3965

Joined

Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm

Location

near Lisieux, France

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Tim York » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:32 am

That sounds like one I might like , Bob. Someone on the other board recommended Mornington Peninsula a source of fine Shiraz.
Tim York
User avatar
User

Bob Parsons Alberta

Rank

aka Doris

Posts

9675

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:37 am

Tim York wrote:That sounds like one I might like , Bob. Someone on the other board recommended Mornington Peninsular a source of fine Shiraz.


Yup Tim, the RP/fruit bomb crowd would veer away from this one. :lol:
I edited the price to $20.

Think I am tempted to look out for Vasse Felix, Margaret River.
no avatar
User

Ben Rotter

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

302

Joined

Tue Sep 19, 2006 1:59 pm

Location

Sydney, Australia (currently)

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Ben Rotter » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:24 am

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Where do forumites think I should be looking?


Bob, what is it you're actually looking for in Shiraz/Syrah? Is it simply a matter of avoiding the ripe fruited, alcoholic, and oaky (perhaps not such a "simple matter"?!), or are you looking for something else also?
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26866

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Jenise » Mon Mar 04, 2013 2:28 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:
Tim York wrote:That sounds like one I might like , Bob. Someone on the other board recommended Mornington Peninsular a source of fine Shiraz.


Yup Tim, the RP/fruit bomb crowd would veer away from this one. :lol:
I edited the price to $20.

Think I am tempted to look out for Vasse Felix, Margaret River.


You've not had Vasse Felix before? It's been one of our favorite Oz producers; we sought it out after hearing raves about it from the car rental agent in Melbourne! And she was right.


And for David Lole when he returns to this thread: we brought six cases of wine back from our 2000 trip, and it included Kay Bros Block 6, Mount Langhi Ghiran, Rockford Basket Press, Lehmann, Bests, Tim Adams, Metchelton, Tahbilk, Wirra Wirra and many of the others on your list. All were cellar door purchases except for Vasse Felix, because though we really got around we didn't get as far as Margaret River. The only things that surprised me about your list is that there aren't more names I don't know--there were only two, I think, and that there wasn't a single entry from the Coonawarra (or Padthaway, for that matter). Coonawarra's probably more prized for its cabernets than it's shiraz, but still. Why?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
no avatar
User

David Lole

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1556

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:49 am

Location

Canberra, Australia

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by David Lole » Mon Mar 04, 2013 3:01 pm

Jenise wrote:
Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:
Tim York wrote:That sounds like one I might like , Bob. Someone on the other board recommended Mornington Peninsular a source of fine Shiraz.


Yup Tim, the RP/fruit bomb crowd would veer away from this one. :lol:
I edited the price to $20.

Think I am tempted to look out for Vasse Felix, Margaret River.


You've not had Vasse Felix before? It's been one of our favorite Oz producers; we sought it out after hearing raves about it from the car rental agent in Melbourne! And she was right.


And for David Lole when he returns to this thread: we brought six cases of wine back from our 2000 trip, and it included Kay Bros Block 6, Mount Langhi Ghiran, Rockford Basket Press, Lehmann, Bests, Tim Adams, Metchelton, Tahbilk, Wirra Wirra and many of the others on your list. All were cellar door purchases except for Vasse Felix, because though we really got around we didn't get as far as Margaret River. The only things that surprised me about your list is that there aren't more names I don't know--there were only two, I think, and that there wasn't a single entry from the Coonawarra (or Padthaway, for that matter). Coonawarra's probably more prized for its cabernets than it's shiraz, but still. Why?


Jenise,

I concentrated on the main players from Andrew Caillard's excellent article that I believe are far more representative of very good quality shiraz that would be, hopefully, readily available for overseas-based readers to source ... and as I summarised at the end of the list .... "The wineries covered above are just some of the main players worth seeking out. I purposely discarded the Barossa Dead Fruit Association and their cronies, as I detest this style of winemaking and (just about) everything it represents. There are literally hundreds of small producers in Coonawarra, Central Victoria, Canberra District, Orange, Mudgee, Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Lower Great Southern (WA), Hunter Valley, Rutherglen, Grampians etc, etc that make compelling, attractive, tasty and not too alcoholic or overoaked shiraz, but I doubt if they would be easy to source."

And I probably should have included some of the better Coonawarra wineries. Of course, Wynns Coonawarra with their Michael Shiraz would/should be on most critic's walk-up start list but Wynns have ceased exporting to the States for a while now ....plus I don't really like where Wynn's headed with this label in the past in regards to extraction and oak treatment, although I thought the 2004 was in a particularly nice groove at release, but then the 2005 reverted back to a heavier, tannic and oakier version (probably more to do with the vintage, I think) and I haven't gone back to it since. Wynns have released a supposedly terrific 2010 Black Label Shiraz at the same quality level of the Black Label Cabernet - but as yet I haven't tried it. But you won't get to access it!

My main aim was to steer people away from the gobbly gook cheap crap and the massive no-brainer expensive "made to order" rubbish you've been plastered with over the years and allow people to try a few on that list to appreciate the finer qualities of Aussie Shiraz.

Some of the best reds we have ever produced in this country have actually been blends of Cabernet and Shiraz (usually in roughly equal quantities of each).
Last edited by David Lole on Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Cheers,

David
no avatar
User

Jenise

Rank

FLDG Dishwasher

Posts

26866

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm

Location

The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Jenise » Mon Mar 04, 2013 7:47 pm

David Lole wrote:
Jenise,

I concentrated on the main players from Andrew Caillard's excellent article that I believe are far more representative of very good quality shiraz and would be far more readily available for overseas-based readers to source ...


Okay, got it. And of course, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned, McClaren Vale and Barossa wines are the most commonly available. In fact, in my area and most unfortunately, it's just about all there is--the east coast might see more variety, but I'm not sure.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
no avatar
User

Mike Pollard

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

201

Joined

Tue Oct 09, 2007 7:53 pm

Location

San Diego

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Mike Pollard » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:13 pm

A long and very loud round of applause for David Lole’s posts above (David, any chance of a link to Andrew Caillard’s article?).

Having just come back from two weeks and some 3000 kms through Rutherglen, along the Murray into the Barossa and up though Clare and finally back to Sydney via Broken Hill I’m once again convinced that there are vast numbers of wine drinkers outside Oz who have simply never been exposed to the quality of wines in the land down under but are very willing to criticize based on their myopic view, and that is especially true of Shiraz. And that is not only a great shame but a real missed opportunity. This year’s trip is a repeat of one we did about four years ago but did not include the Orange or Canberra regions visited on the 2008 trip. Yes, I’m biased but then I grew up as a wine drinker in Oz and I can drink my Penfolds St Henri alongside my Mollydooker Boxer. And yes, on this trip, just like many others to Oz before we did taste some rubbish. But it’s bathtub sized compared to the ocean of bloody good to outstanding Shiraz.

When you can taste, in the same day, the wines of John Duval and those of Damien Tscharke, you realize very, very quickly that the Aussie winemaker interpretation of what is Shiraz/Syrah can be tremendously different, but equally exciting. If you sit and listen, as we did, to Damien Tscharke describe his wines you come away with a real sense that there are young winemakers trying to virtually redefine (Shiraz) winemaking in Australia. In contrast a guided tasting at the Artisans of the Barossa reveals the elegance and the power of Barossa Shiraz. And that last point should be key to how to view Shiraz. Barossa Shiraz is not a shy wine, its not trying to be Rhone in style. It has loads of fruit because the climate allows it. It can be made lighter, more elegant, and perhaps longer lived, if you pick early as Tscharke does. But his approach is a re-interpretation of the grape in the Barossa, one (very analytical) winemaker’s view of how the grape can make the wines he wants to make. One point of the spectrum that is Aussie Shiraz.

Mike
no avatar
User

David Lole

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1556

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:49 am

Location

Canberra, Australia

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by David Lole » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:44 am

..... here's a link for those who are interested ....

http://www.langtons.com.au/Tools/Winery.aspx
Cheers,

David
User avatar
User

Bob Parsons Alberta

Rank

aka Doris

Posts

9675

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:16 am

My Paringa was still very much alive on day 3.
no avatar
User

Tim York

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

3965

Joined

Tue May 09, 2006 3:48 pm

Location

near Lisieux, France

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Tim York » Tue Mar 05, 2013 7:27 am

Mike Pollard wrote:A long and very loud round of applause for David Lole’s posts above (David, any chance of a link to Andrew Caillard’s article?).


Seconded!

but are very willing to criticize based on their myopic view, and that is especially true of Shiraz.


Hold on, Mike; "myopic" is a bit OTT.

It is perfectly legitimate to dislike most warm climate Shiraz/Syrah and to prefer cool climate versions (and vice versa). Amongst the few wines from those strongly recommended in David's posts which have passed my lips, the majority fail to bowl me over for this reason, often aggravated by IMO obtrusive oaking.

Most of the other wines referred to, some of which we might like, are simply not available. And, as I ask in the Asimov Oz thread, how many of these are sufficiently distinctive to be purchased in preference to what is available in our home markets, other than samples for reasons of curiosity?

I would love, though, to do the sort of tour which you describe.
Tim York
no avatar
User

JC (NC)

Rank

Lifelong Learner

Posts

6120

Joined

Mon Mar 27, 2006 1:23 pm

Location

Fayetteville, NC

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by JC (NC) » Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:19 pm

Haven't tried one for a few years but I liked the 2004 Hope Estate "Ripper" Shiraz, a fruit-forward wine but not over-the-top from Western Australia. It had some nice mocha notes along with the berries. I also like some of the Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blends from Australia. I have liked some from D'Arenberg.
User avatar
User

Bob Parsons Alberta

Rank

aka Doris

Posts

9675

Joined

Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:09 pm

Re: Shiraz. What is your verdict?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Wed Mar 06, 2013 5:55 am

Tim York wrote:That sounds like one I might like , Bob. Someone on the other board recommended Mornington Peninsula a source of fine Shiraz.


Thanks Tim. I have to make a correction, my Paringa was from McLaren Vale.
Previous

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Alexa [Bot], Bing [Bot], Google [Bot] and 5 guests

Powered by phpBB ® | phpBB3 Style by KomiDesign