We’ve all heard of it, most of us will have tried one, but what did we think? And what are the misconceptions surrounding this Australian (not Australian) variety.
Well there certainly is a stereotype surrounding the ‘Aussie’ Shiraz. They are fruity, high in alcohol, extra-jammy and will overwhelm any food. I make reference to a comment I saw on social media where a somewhat negative question came up.
“Is it possible for a wine to make your mouth taste like Robitussin in the morning?”
Among the comments was a quip asking “If it was an Aussie Shiraz? Those are 65 percent cough syrup” Speaking from the Australian point of view, ouch! Now admittedly as it’s the case with, I think it’s fair to say, each and every wine producing trend, variety, and country over the years. A large volume of less than desirable liquid shoved out into the market place. Sadly this is not a reflection of the producer skills, lack of passion by the winemaker, the poor climate or even the variety itself. But a reflection of consumer belief, that to crush the price to suit supermarket shelves is the route to go. Well, quite simply it isn’t!
When have you bought a wine from a supermarket for under £7 and been able to say “This is restaurant quality!” ?
To understand this, here are a few basic points.
Paying a little more for extra quality in the wine works! For one simple reason: duty. A fixed cost per the abc of the wine. Take this cost from a bottle you’re buying for a fiver and you are left with a very small amount for the best part, the liquid.
Each and every wine has its own differing ‘personality’ something that can begin to overwhelm when you’re looking to select a bottle of something new, or when you’re making a selection based on a particular dish you will be serving. To break this down and help our customers, we work to a set of personalities which we then categorise each and every one of our wines to. Ranging from light and delicate, to robust and heavy wines for both reds and whites.
For Shiraz, we begin to see the misconception above be broken down straight away. The variety and the wines we stock actually fit into several different personalities, so it’s certainly not a one trick pony.
These are robust food pairing wines, outside of Shiraz think unoaked Merlot, new world Cabernet or even Grenache.
Here one of my particular favourites in this years range is a wine from the Chapoutier family. Long known as a leading light of the Rhône Valley until 1997 when Michel Chapoutier expanded their horizons into the New World, specifically the Australian region of Victoria. He was initially making wines in conjunction with renowned local wineries such Jasper Hill and Giaconda. In 2009 Chapoutier purchased the Shays Flat and Landsborough Valley estates in the Australian Pyrenees, giving birth to the wholly owned Tournon. Unsurprisingly, the focus is on Shiraz, which under Chapoutier’s skilled hands manages to evoke the minerality and elegance of the Northern Rhône, whilst still expressing the soil and climate of Victoria.
The grapes are hand harvested at maturity. Vinified in cement or stainless steel tanks, providing freshness of character. Brilliant ruby colours, presented to the nose with deep notes of black fruit and pepper. Subtle, yet greedy with a silky elegant finish.
The key to remember here is, any heat in the food your pairing with will be intensified by the wines warming character. Outside of Shiraz, think Barbera or Zinfandel.
For this category, I had little option but to pop to the Barossa Valley, unequivocally the spiritual home of Shiraz. To one of my favourite producers, JJ Hahn, a boutique winery operating old heritage vineyards planted by the Hahn family over several generations. The Hahn family arrived in Barossa from Germany in 1845 and have lived and worked on their original land since 1846. They are the oldest homesteading family in the Barossa Valley, having continuously occupied since it was completed in 1848. The quality of the grapes from their land is exceptional as the early settlers staked out the best quality land and farms. Sixth generation descendant James Hahn, with his wife Jackie and their children currently occupy the old house.
A Red Wine blend of wine made from grapes, 78% Shiraz, from vineyards on the Western Ridge. Vinified separately and aged for about a year in French and American oak barrels prior to final selection and blending, and bottled without filtration. It opens with floral aromas with notes of dark chocolate, sweet spice and black cherry, followed by white pepper and liquorice. The palate is tight and elegant with blackberry and mineral notes to the fore, supported by supple tannins. Named after Reginald Hahn, an early pioneer of the Barossa Valley who recognised the potential of the valley as a future wine producing region, this is definitely a must try!
Big, punchy and decadent, this is the place to be! Outside of Shiraz think barrel aged Cabernet, or Malbec.
Happily here, we’re off to the Mclaren Vale region of Australia, south of Adelaide. Although one of the first planted regions in Australia, it has a ‘new wave’ image. The close-knit community make juicy, turbo-charged reds with no apologies, and will experiment with most varieties and styles, they are not bound by traditions and this is what makes the region so exciting! This particular offering is from the Shingleback winery, I will let the accolades and trophies speak for themselves!
Select parcels of Red Wine Shiraz from across the Shingleback Vineyard are handcrafted in small open fermenters to maximize the potential of each batch. Maturation for 15 months in 45% new and 55% second use, fine grained American and French oak hogsheads softens, enhances and integrates the fruit and structural components of the wine. Individual barrel selection is carried out to create the final blend, which is minimally filtered prior to bottling. Intense aromas of ripe summer strawberry, blackberry and dark cherry, with nuances of milk chocolate and notes of rose, the mid-palate is defined by the fine tannin structure and acidity that is the hallmark of the 2009 McLaren Vale vintage.
GOLD (2015) INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE 2018 | BRONZE (2016) INTERNATIONAL WINE & SPIRIT COMPETITION 2018 | SILVER (2015) DECANTER WORLD WINE AWARDS 2018 | GOLD (2012) SOMMELIER WINE AWARDS 2018 | SILVER (2014) INTERNATIONAL WINE CHALLENGE 2017
Take look at all our Aussie Shiraz here and tell us what you think!