We are very excited to be able to bring Michael to you, and we are looking forward to learning all about his wines as we taste along with him. Michael will be sampling his Lily’s Garden 2007, Gnarly Dudes 2007, and Angel’s Share 2008, though we look forward to questions about all of his wines.
It will be very exciting to learn all about not only the Two Hands wines, but also what about each is special and unique. We'll explore the terroir of Australia, how the recent vintages are affecting wine styles, and even how Australia differs from France and California, where Michael is also making wine. So don't miss it. 9 pm, tonight at
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Explore Australian Shiraz: Barossa and McLaren ValeMocha and coffee notes, typical of Barossa Shiraz, are accompanied by ripe, fresh blackberry and plum fruits accented with hints of violet, licorice, dried herbs and black pepper. Adjectives such as elegant, are just as likely to be used as powerful or rich to describe these wines. French oak has joined the more traditional American, and the cumulative end result is that, not only are better wines being produced, but a broader array of wines can now be said to exhibit the classic traits of Barossa Shiraz
McLaren Vale's Shiraz is particularly rich, with chewy tannins that are ripe from the extended growing season, giving the wines a plushness and soft density that sets them apart from most other Shiraz. The flavors of the wines tend be quite darkly fruited, with blackberry, plum and black currant all wrapped around a trademark earthy core. There is a definite spice element as well, that helps to add depth and complexity to the wines.
The Barossa ValleyBarossa Valley is one of Australia's most important, and historical, wine producing regions. From the time of the first plantings in the mid 19th century until the mid 1970's, Barossa was the predominant wine region of Australia. The large firms that served notice to the world that Australia had the raw materials to make wine had their roots here. Names like Seppelt, Yalumba, and Penfolds all could be found in this picturesque valley just northeast of Adelaide in South East Australia.
The region found itself caught up in a red wine boom in the 1970's, and the focus in the region shifted from quality to quantity. Huge swaths of vines were planted to turn out cheap, bulk wine and vineyards previously tended for low yields and high quality found themselves dumped ignominiously into these commercial blends, no doubt adding body and richness to the resultant wines, ironically only adding fuel to the latter troubles. It took almost two decades for things to sort themselves out, with the prices for the red varieties peaking in the late 1990's, before over-supply brought them tumbling back down, to just above their 1990 prices, in 2006. Since then prices have seen a significant recovery, though they are threatened once again, this time by a cluster of factors that, unfortunately, includes the global economic crisis.
It's interesting to note that some 20 years ago, when the vast majority of Barossa wines were produced for local consumption, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay grapes all sold for about the same price per ton. In the intervening years the price of Chardonnay has slowly lost ground tot he red varieties. Shiraz continues to be thee the grape of Barossa, with almost 4 times the production of Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay, somewhat surprisingly is not the most commonly planted white vine. That distinction goes to Semillion, with chardonnay in second place.
Barossa Shiraz, in particular, has always been very highly thought of, as evidenced by it's inclusion in Australia's Iconic Grange Hermitage wine, arguably one of the greatest expressions of the grape. The Barossa style historically used American oak to lend flavors of vanilla and coconut to the very ripe , and nearly port-like fruit that Shiraz produced from these sun baked vines. While much has changed over the past few years, there has been one constant, the vines. There is no doubt that the abundance of old-vine Shiraz in Barossa (the worlds oldest living vines, planted around 1840, can be found here) is responsible for the sheer volume of exceptional wines being produced there, though the current offerings frequently strive for a different expression than the wines produced by the last generation of leading winemakers.
While the mocha and coffee notes of classic Barossa Shiraz may still be in evidence they are now accompanied by ripe, fresh blackberry and plum fruits accented by notes of violet, licorice, dried herbs and black pepper. Adjectives such as elegant, are just as likely to be used as powerful or rich to describe these wines. French oak has joined the more traditional American, and the cumulative end result is that, not only are better wines being produced, but a broader array of wines can now be said to exhibit the classic traits of Barossa Shiraz.
McLaren ValeThe McLaren Vale, which lies just South of Adelaide, has a wine producing histroy almost as long as Barossa's, but without an iconic wine, the region took a bit longer to gain the level of fame and recognition that they deserved. The region has significant similarities with California's young wine industry, founded as it was by a few intrepid farmers, only to see the growth of the industry driven by the production of fortified wises, as well as brandy. By the late 1960's and into the eary 1970's the fine wine industry of McLaren Vale teetered on the edge of existence.
Fortunately the region's fine vineyards and favorable climate, influenced as it is by the proximity to the coast, left a small group of determined individuals in charge of their own fate. Much as in Barossa, that fate, and their success, hinged on the greatness of their Shiraz. And again, like in Barossa, that greatness came from the remarkable old-vine vineyards that have stood here for many decades, dry farmed and enduring, putting a lifetime of experience into each vintage, and growing ever more complex with each passing year.
While many people look upon one Australian Shiraz as pretty much the same as any other, nothing could be further from the truth. Each region, and each old vineyard, has a unique blend of clones that adapt and respond differently to the local climatic conditions. For Mclaren Vale that means a region with very little summer rainfall and frequent high daytime temperatures. The vines respond to these conditions by producing less fruit with small, thick-skinned berries.
Those small berries mean that Mclaren vale's Shiraz is particularly rich, with chewy tannins that are ripe from the extended growing season, giving the wines a plushness and soft density that sets them apart for most other Shiraz. The flavors of the wines tend be quite darkly fruited with blackberry, plum and black currant all wrapped around a trademark earthy core. There is a definite spice element as well, that helps to add depth and complexity to the wines.