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Snooth User: Avv

Shiraz or Syrah. Aussie v world

Posted by Avv, Jul 30, 2010.

Which do we prefer, Aussie shiraz or rest of world syrah

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Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jul 30, 2010.

Rest of the world's syrah.  Typical Aussie shiraz is my number one least favorite wine made today.  Gag.

Reply by GregT, Jul 30, 2010.

Avv - The first question is how much syrah someone has had, and from what areas and producers.

W/out that info, it's hard to evaluate the other question.  Australia is a HUGE place, and comparing a wine from there to the rest of the entire world implies a pretty extensive tasting background.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 30, 2010.

And it's hard to hard to imagine that question every arising, other than from within Australia. Kinda like someone in California asking someone else if they like California cabs best, or 'those others' from 'wherever' else. Or stretching it further, someone in Upstate New York asking if someone likes the rieslings from there best, or those from anywhere else. Don't think such a question would ever arise in the Rhone, Bordeaux or Germany.... ;-)

Greg was being diplomatic, because even though GDD is very well versed across a range of wines, it's unlikely she has had true depth and breadth of encounter with those across all those producing areas from the eastern through southern to western coasts of that nation-continent. I'm an American but have lived my entire adult life offshore, a hefty chunk of that in Japan. I've also been fortunate to be able to travel a lot, whether in Asia/Oceania, Europe, and North or Latin America. This has allowed me to visit possibly more wine producing areas than most people, especially someone not in the business fulltime.

Frankly, for me, the Rhone is the home of syrah and sets the standards. Just as Bordeaux is a touchstone for me with cabs, even though I cut my teeth on California wines and love them still. The first non-Rhone syrah that made me sit up and notice was a Phelps syrah in the early '80s, drunk while sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific in the Big Sur. I met Aussie versions after that, and had real trouble with lower-end cab-shiraz blends. Felt they were bastardized ruinations of both grapes, though I knew the Bordelaise used to blend syrah in their wines (quite a few years before my birth, or maybe even that of my grandparents, though). Later I learned I just had some bottles from inept producers. I find I actually do like shiraz from Oz better when it's the main player than in blends where cab is. And I've found a number of shiraz from Oz that I like, whether it's a bankbuster like a Grange, or something more subtle from Western Australia.

Bottom line for me, though, is that I like the Rhone first, California second (nice to find good ones made even in my home town from the likes of Ojai Vineyard, Jonata and Sine Qua Non), and good Aussie Shiraz third. I'm also thankful that we live in a world where we have all this choice....

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Jul 31, 2010.

That's why I said "typical Aussie shiraz".  ;)

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 1, 2010.

Typical Aussie Shiraz - I think it is better to categorise Aussie Shiraz

Barossa Valley SA - BV Shiraz is typically a very big fruit driven shiraz generally made around 14.5 to 15.5% alcohol and matured in American Oak to give the strong vanilla overtones, the best examples are:

Rockford Basket Press

Yalumba - Octavius and a number of single site wines

Dutschke [A number of labels]

Grant Burge, Meschach and Filsell

Barossa Valley Estates, E&E and Ebeneezer


Peter Lehmann - Stonewall, Futures, Eight Songs

Penfolds - Kalina Bin 28

Wolf Blass - Platinum, Gold, Balck Grey Label

Saltram's - No 1, Mamre Brook, Pepperjack, Eighth Maker

Some BV makers do use some French Oak and add a bit of Viognier

Penfolds - RWT [French Oak] [RWT stands for Red Winemaking Trial]

Torbreck - Runrig [Viognier]

And off course there are the Parkerites like the Waughs of Greenock Creek who late pick shiraz and get over 16% alcohol

Eden Valley Shiraz

EV Shiraz is predominantly the land of Henschke and their three shiraz Hill of Grace, Mt Edelstone and Pappa Pass are much more elegant than BV and tend to be in the 13-15% range and use much more French Oak

McLaren Vale Shiraz

MV Shiraz is similar to BV Shiraz and is ggenerally made in a similar style, the difference is mainly terrior driven and is subtle but is there.  Good examples are:

Coriole - Lloyd and "just" Coriole

D'Arenderg - Dead Arm and The Footbolt

Noons - Reserve

Wirra Wirra - RSW

Penny's Hill

Hardy [Constellation] - Eileen, Chareau Reynella, Tintara

Clare Valley - SA

CV Shiraz tends to be made slightly more subtle than BV but the style is similar, mixture French and American Oak, alcohol generally 13.5 to 15.5%

Jim Barry - Armagh and McCrae Wood

Tim Adams - Aberfeldy

Mitchells - Peppertree


Penna Lane


Other Shiraz Regions

Heathcote - Victoria

More Elegant and "sweeter" raspberry style

Heathcote Estate, Jasper Hill, Wild Duck Creek

Great Western/Grampians - Victoria

Very Savoury and less alcohol fruti dominant

Bests, Seppelt

Beechworh - Victoria

Elegant, savoury, more Rhone in style

Castagna, Giaconda

Canberra - ACT

Definitely Rhone


Hunter - NSW

Difficult area, weather is not ideal for shiraz

McWilliams, Tyrells, Brokenwood

Franland River - WA


Adelaide Hills - SA

Trying to develop a cool climate, more Rhone Style with viognier

Shaw and Smith

Bird In Hand


I have missed plenty but more point is that to most people the image of Australian Shiraz is driven a lot by the Barossa Style which is a very big fruit driven red aged in American Oak.

I have been fortunate to try many shiraz from around the world and one thing Australia can do is produce high quality shiraz in big volumes.  Some of our $15-$30 wines are 10,000 to 100,000 cases per annum.  Having said that some of our top single vineyard wines like Hill of Grace is 500 Cases

I also should point out that the great Aussie blend is actually a Cabernet dominant blend of Cabernet and Shiraz, this was done as Merlot does not grow that well over here and some of our Cab/Shiraz blends can be outstanding eg Yalumba Signature and Penfolds Bin 389.

We also have the Penfolds phenonema of multi regional Blends such as Grange, St Henri and others

My experience with Rhone is that the superstars like the Guigal La La's and D'Ampuis are sensational in great vintages but the mid level Rhones struggle to really deliver a style that appeals to me.

Therefore I think it is difficult to say which is best when you are as broad as country.

I think if you have no budget limits it is hard to beat the Rhone Superstars but I think if you get hold of the following Aussies at less than USD $100 you will get a great Drink

Penfolds St Henri 96,98,99,02,04,06

Tim Adams Aberfeldy 98,02,04,06

Coriole Lloyd Reserve 96,98,02,04,06

Rockford Basket Press 96,98,99,02,04

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier - any vintage

Castagna Genesis 98,02,04

Shaw and Smith 04,05,06,07

Henschke My Edelstone 96,02,04,06

Turkey Flat 98,02,04

Bests Bin 0, 98,02,04

Seppelt St Peters, 96,98,99,02,04,05,06

Happy Drinking

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 1, 2010.

To Girl Drink Drunk

WhichAussie Shiraz have caused you to such a bad drinking experience?

Reply by dmcker, Aug 1, 2010.

Good, informative, useful listing, Stephen. Thanks for taking the time.

So, to you, only one is worth mentioning from Western Australia (that's all I could find in the listing, anyway)?

It should be noted that at 'under $100' there are an awful lot of good syrah's from California, and Washington as well. Anyone want to try this comprehensive a listing for those regions? ;-)

Reply by dmcker, Aug 1, 2010.

I guess the listing needs to be lengthy, since I just checked and confirmed that shiraz makes up something like 25% of all the grapes grown across Oz.

To be more specific about my question in the second paragraph above, I've had several WA shiraz over the past decade or more that I found interesting, and in several cases definitely liked. Not quite as loud as the Barossa type, generally with good structure anf finesse, and tending more to my liking, though that's a rough generalization. Those that pop most immediately to mind are:

  • Alkoomi, Frankland River, 'Jarrah'
  • Evans & Tate 'Redbrook' (though I don't think they make it anymore, for whatever reason)
  • Ferngrove, Frankland River, 'The Sterling' (maybe 1/3 cab in the blend?)
  • Capel Vale, Mount Barker, Kinnaird Vineyard 'Black Label'
  • Plantagenet, Mount Barker
  • La Violetta 'La Ciornia'
  • Virgin Block

All of them were under $50 (and in several cases in the 20s), except the Virgin Block.


Any experience, Stephen or Avv, with any of these?

Reply by dmcker, Aug 1, 2010.

Forgot to mention that they worked better with food for me than many from South Australia.

Post-edit editing function, please, Philip!

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 1, 2010.

Evans & Tate went bust and were bought out by McWilliams, not sure what they are doing with the brands, many of the Evans & Tate Brands were underpriced and losing money

Alkoomi Jarrah is their "Icon" Shiraz not seen it at all

Capel Vale is usually pretty good but they have been doing a lot of label changing of late which makes then difficult to track

Plantagenet is a good producer their shiraz is competent and in some vintages very good

Have not tried the Ferngrove Sterling [yes has come cab in it]

La Violetta - got me there had to resort to Google just to see who it is from, It is a very small producer - Kalgan River Wines, of which La Cornia is their benchmark.  I will have to try it

Virgin Block - ditto

In relation to food I think it depends on what you eat, Barossa Shiraz is very good with Grilled Steak, or game food such as venison.

I think because we are lucky to get good steak at relatively cheap price [between $15-30/kg] it makes it a staple food and probably consumed weekly by many South Aussies, which helps to understand the popularity of Barossa Shiraz.

US Shiraz/Syrah almost non-existent in our bottleshops

Reply by dmcker, Aug 1, 2010.

Thanks, Stephen. That obviously explains why the Redbrook evaporated. Liked those from the late '90s quite well.

Any wine reccs for 'roo and croc'?   ;-)

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 1, 2010.

For Roo I would try either

Gramps Shiraz from Orlando/Pernod should be < $20

Penfolds Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz - 04,05,06

Schild Estate 08 Shiraz

Coriole Shiraz from McLaren Vale good at <$30

Tim Adams Shiraz from Clare at <$30


I tend to go a bit lighter actually don't mind chardonnay with Croc but perhaps go for Something from Yarra like Yering Station, or Great Western like Seppelt Chalambar.


Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Aug 2, 2010.

Stephen, without going to my notes and pulling all the specific vineyards, the producers I remember trying include:




Two Hands

John Duval

Peter Lehmann



Greenock Creek


There are probably a bunch more I'm forgetting.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 2, 2010.

As an unashamed local, and given I do work for many of these producers, it is dissappointing that they rank so poorly.

I have benchmarked them against some of the best I could afford and at a recent dinner we did 98 Penfolds St Henri and 98 Penfolds Grange against a 98 Guigal La Mouline from Cote de Rotie and the general consensus was despite such different styles all 3 were outstanding examples of Shiraz

Prior to that we did a 90 Penfolds Grange and 04 Guigal Chateau D'Ampuis, again the group agreed both were outsgtanding but very different

Greenock Creek and Rusden are very much Parker style wines and I don't particularly like them but they are nothing like the Henschke Wines, in fact they are about as opposite as you can get from a style and alcohol content

Penfolds do 8 Shiraz

  • Grange - $500
  • RWT - $200
  • St Henri - $85
  • Kalimna Bin 28 - $25
  • Coonawarra Bin 128 - $22
  • Hyland - $18
  • Koonunga Hill - $14
  • Rawsons Retreat - $8

They are part of the Fosters monster which owns Berringer and they also produce Shiraz under a myriad of Labels

  • Saltram
  • Wolf Blass
  • Seppelt
  • Wynns
  • Pepperjack
  • Seaview
  • Edwards & Chaffey
  • Lindemans
  • and others

Even the small producers like Two Hands and John Duval [John retired as Penfolds Chief Winemaker in 2002] produce numerous Shiraz under their labels

If you are looking for A-typical Australian Shiraz can I suggest

  • Giaconda Warner Vinyard - Beechworth
  • Castagna Genesis - Beechworth
  • Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier - Canberra
  • Jasper Hill Georgias Paddock - Heathcote
  • Penfolds St Henri - Multi regional
  • Seppelt St Peters - Great Western
  • Shaw & Smith - Adelaide Hills
  • Henschke Mt Edelstone - Eden Valley

These all retail here for between $50-$100

Hopefully I can find something in our massive array of Shiraz that is to your taste

Reply by dmcker, Aug 2, 2010.

Next time don't taste against a Guigal, but rather against a Chave (or even a Jaboulet La Chapelle from the early 90s or earlier ;-) ) and see what the comments are.

There are larger, more 'internationally modern' Rhones (i.e. heavily influenced by Parker et al.), and other more old-skool producers that dial it back a big and end up with, IMHO, a finer wine....

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 2, 2010.


I can get PAUL JABOULET AINE La Chapelle, Hermitage 94,98,99,00,03 at auction all around AUD150  What do you recommend

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 2, 2010.

Also what about

SINE QUA NON Hate Labels Syrah, Central Coast 2007

That is the sum total of US SHiraz avaible at auction here

Reply by StevenBabb, Aug 3, 2010.

i think, and sticking with the original question, that it all depends on what i'm doing with the wine.... if i'm drinking it with food, than i'm more likely to go rhone or even some ca syrah....

but if i'm just enjoying a glass on its own, then there's nothing wrong with the bright and juicy fruit that normaly comes to mind with a shiraz...

but, if given the choice of spending $50 on a bottle of syrah, i'd have to say that i'm not going to the land down under.... just my taste preference.....

Reply by Buxton ridge, Aug 3, 2010.

Thanks everyone for a passionate and lively debate. I certainly didnt want to divide or polarise but rather see what kind of Shiraz/ Syrah people love. I really love this grape and its expression. I personally dont think we can compare rhone to barossa but we certainly can enjoy them. Its all about style!

Reply by dmcker, Aug 3, 2010.

So can we hear more about your likes and dislikes, and comparative views, Avv?

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