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Snooth User: Avv

Shiraz or Syrah. Aussie v world

Original post by Avv, Jul 30, 2010.

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


Reply by dmcker, Aug 3, 2010.

Stephen, I'll get back and answer your earlier questions a bit later--am out the door right now....

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 4, 2010.

The other points I would make about Barossa Shiraz

  • It does need some age, I would generally recommend 5-10 years, the good ones can go longer.  Good young Barossa Shiraz can be a bit tannic and with the sometimes explosive fruit and impact of vanilla ovetones from American Oak time is needed to get all in balance
  • Decanting is essential, without opening the whole decanting debate, 1-2 hours really helps Barossa shiraz open up and show its true colours
  • Definitely suited to cooler weather, and food that is not delicate in flavour and style


Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2010.

Stephen, the best La Chapelle vintages I've had are '90, '89 and '82. Haven't had the '49 but still haven't given up hope. From early-mid '90s the old man was failing and the wines dropped off a bit. Once he was dead, things really went to hell in a handbasket, with five different family members trying to run things in succession--revolving-door government bigtime, similar to the Japanese parliamentary process these days... ;-) By 10 years later, the Jaboulets ended up selling to another family that formerly owned the Ayala champers brand, but sold it off to pay for their Rhone acquisition. Now ownership/management and name are unrelated.

Other vintages have certainly been good, but they've been coasting for years off the great wines they made in the past. I still buy the label but am very analytical these days about which I do, post-'95, whereas in the past my decisions were more passionate.

The Sine Qua Non 'Labels' is likely pricey, but well worth a try if you can afford the tariff. Keep an eye out for their other syrahs (and grenache and even pinot), too. Definitely not French in style, but very, very interesting and almost always extremely satisfying and uplifting. They're making some of the best wine in the US out of a warehouse on the lower-rent Ventura Avenue in my hometown area. Unfortunately it's also the cultiest of cult wines, and priced stratospherically. I do, however, like his wines better than, say, Screaming Eagle, though it's a little apples and oranges with differing varietals....

Reply by Avv, Aug 4, 2010.

some that i have tried and enjoyed recently are.

Yarra Yerring under hill

Clonakilla SV

Penfolds grange, 389, st henri

Carlos Falco

Abadia Ruerta



Wynns Michael

All wonderful styles

Reply by dmcker, Aug 4, 2010.

Avv, can you provide us with a little more info about them, to help us decide if we should chase them down?

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 4, 2010.


I can give you info on most

Coriole is owned by the LLoyd family and are an excellent producers of McLaren Vale Shiraz.  They have a standard Coriole Shiraz at about AUD20-25 here and Lloyd Reserve for about 60-70

Look for 02,04,06 for Standard and 96,98,04 for Lloyd

They will give you a good benchmark for McLaren Vale Shiraz [They are also making progress with Sangiovese

Clonakilla is owned by the Kirk's in Canberra and their Shiraz Viognier is fast becoming a real cult wine, around AUD80 it is very impressive with a stunning nose from the Viognier.  Really works with mild to medium spicey food, particularly Thai as the aromatics of the Viognier seem to work with the aromatics of Thai food.  But with my usual Chilli warning - if the chilli is too hot and you love the heat the wine is wasted.

Wynns is the Coonawarra base for the Fosters/Berringer monster.  Sue Hodder is now in charge and they are in form.  Whilst it is a Cab dominant region it does produce outstanding shiraz.  The Michael is the best in the region and at AUD60-70 is well priced.  You need to get older vintages and 96 and 98 are currently performing well

Plenty is said and written about the Penfolds lot, but I would definitely have a look at St Henri, totally fruit driven and aged in massive old oak vats.  86,90,96,98,99,02,04,06 are performing very well.  Can be enjoyed young but is great with age at around AUD80 is one of my favourites, great food wine

Bin 389 is a Cabernet Shiraz blend aged in American Oak, a small % is aged in barrells used for previous Grange Vintage.  It is a big wine and I quite like it, Needs something like a rich stew or lamb shanks.  90,96,98 are great Lost a bit of form between 00 and 03, the 05 and 06 are very good but far too young.  usually available for around AUD40, should be readily available [they make around 100,000 cases pa]

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 5, 2010.

Not Shiraz but just had this over lunch at our best Italian Restaurant

Farnese Edizione Cinque Autoctoni Abruzzi 2006   Really enjoyed the richness of the fruit and the depth of flavour - good food wine
Reply by dmcker, Aug 14, 2010.

Stephen or Avv, any of these from a recent offering by Benchmark that you'd particularly recommend, whether by maker and version, vintage, price, or all of the above?

Amon Ra Shiraz Barossa Valley 2001 ~ 12 @ $68 WA91-94
Amon Ra Shiraz Barossa Valley 2002 ~ 12 @ $79 WA95 original carton
Amon Ra Shiraz Barossa Valley 2004 ~ 3 @ $69 WA94-96
Barossa Valley Estates Shiraz E & E Black Pepper 2001 ~ 18 @ $74 WS93, IWC91
Burge Family Shiraz G3 2002 ~ 11 @ $58 WA96 original carton
Charles Cimicky Shiraz Reserve 2002 ~ 24 @ $54 WA94-96 original carton
Clarendon Hills Cabernet Sauvignon Sandown Vineyard 2003 ~ 3 @ $49 WA95
Clarendon Hills Merlot Brookman`s 2004 ~ 12 @ $39 WA93 original carton
Clarendon Hills Shiraz Moritz 2004 ~ 9 @ $46 WA95 original carton
d`Arenberg Cabernet Sauvignon Coppermine Road 1998 ~ 10 @ $48 WA95
d`Arenberg GSM Ironstone Pressings 1998 ~ 12 @ $33 WA92, WS90, IWC90
Greenock Creek Shiraz Alice`s Block 2003 ~ 2 @ $64 WA97 original carton
Greenock Creek Shiraz Apricot Block 2003 ~ 11 @ $63 WA95 original carton
Hazyblur Shiraz Barossa Valley 2002 ~ 6 @ $39 WS95, WA94
Hobbs Shiraz 2001 ~ 6 @ $74 WA96 OWC
Kay Brothers Shiraz Amery Hillside 2001 ~ 9 @ $34 WA93-95 original carton
Kay Brothers Shiraz Amery Hillside 2003 ~ 11 @ $29 WA92, IWC90 original carton
Mitolo Cabernet Sauvignon Serpico 2003 ~ 6 @ $39 WA92, IWC91
Mitolo Shiraz Savitar 2003 ~ 12 @ $49 WA94-97
Mr. Riggs Shiraz 2004 ~ 12 @ $49 WA95 tissue stained labels
Oliver`s Taranga Shiraz 2001 ~ 12 @ $39 WA92, WS90
Penfolds Shiraz RWT Red Winemaking Trial 2002 ~ 12 @ $69 WA93, WS93, IWC93 original carton
Penfolds Shiraz RWT Red Winemaking Trial 2003 ~ 6 @ $58 WA96, WS94 original carton
Shirvington Shiraz 2003 ~ 8 @ $54 WA96 original carton
Torbreck Shiraz The Descendant 2002 ~ 6 @ $69 WA96 original carton

Torbreck Shiraz The Factor 2000 ~ 11 @ $79 WA95 one flange foil missing

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 15, 2010.


My thoughts on this lot are:

Amon Ra's are made by Glaetzer and are very big typical Barossa Shiraz, 01 was generally a very hot vintage for Barossa and most wines tend to be a bit alcoholic, I tend to bypass them although some good one's around.  02 was avery mild vintage and as a rule most Barossa reds are far more elegant and refined than in hotter vintages, I have not had 02 Amon Ra for a couple of years but should be worth a look.  04 is regarded as a great vintage and most people got great fruit from the Barossa.  The 04 Amon Ra is a very good wine but needs a couple of years to be at best.  Given your musings I think 02 would be best match to your palate but 04 is worth a look. Give 01 a miss, is good but other two should be better.

As I have written before 01 not a great vintage for E&E [is a client] probably give a miss

Have not tried a Burge family wine for a while [not to be confused with Grant Burge wines, Rick and Grant are brothers from memory and not a lot of love lost - both very good but different winemaking and busines philosophies]  As stated 02 excellent milder vintage, I would certainly be tempted to have a look.

Charles CImicky always produces excellent well balanced shiraz and usually avoids the "Parker effect".  Tried this couple of years ago and was drinking very well.  I would not hesitate to buy the 02

Clarendon Hills is a small winery from the northern fringes of McLaren Vale.  Roman Bratisuik has a myriad of brands from a number of specific vineyards.  His star wine Astralis is cult favourite here and in the US. I tend to avoid 03 in SA as it was a very patchy wet cold crappy vintage, some good wines but better to avoid it.  04 Moritz shiraz is a very good drink.  I have not tried the Merlot ever, Australian Merlot is generally not a great drink

D'Arenburg is one of my favourites from McLaren Vale, 98 in Australia is as good as it was bad in Napa.  The Copermine Road should be at its peak and if well cellared will be a very nice drink.  The GSM is good and is probably one of our best [GSM not an Aussie strong point]

Greenock Creek - about a Parkerised as Barossa can get, these wines are very alcoholic and 03 a poor vintage, have tried and thought I was drinking a fortified wine.  I would give it a miss

Never heard of Hazy Blur

Never tried Hobbs

Kays are very good McLaren Vale makers, and I enjoy their wines but 01 and 03 are not good examples

Mitolo are a client and make very good McLaren Vale wines but 03 are not good examples

Mr Riggs is Ben Riggs label and his 04 Shiraz is very good

Olivers Taranga is a good McLaren Vale label but not 01

Penolds RWT is one of my favourites$69 for the 02 is a steal - current vintage ~AUD175.  A very good elegant wine from the mild 02 Vintage.  I had one two weeks ago, drinking beautifully. Aged in French Oak it gives a much more "sweeter" raspberry fruit profile and avoids the strong vanilla overtones usually found in American Oak matured Penfolds wines.  03 OK but 02 much better.

Never heard of Shirvington and 03 poor vintage

Torbreck is a bit of a cult label now part owned by a successful Californian dotcomer.  Can be a bit Parkerish but 02 Descendant was very good last time I tried it.  2000 was a very hot and generally poor vintage

My top five in order

02 Penfolds RWT

02 Charles Cimicky

02 Amon Ra

02 Torbreck Descendent

04 Amon Ra

Hope that helps


Reply by dmcker, Aug 15, 2010.

Thanks, Stephen, for the, as always, informative input. What would you add to make a top 10?

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 15, 2010.


Probably go

Burge Family G3 2002 Shiraz

Mr Riggs 04 SHiraz

D"Arenburg Coppermine Road 98 Cab Sav

Clarendon Hills Moritz 04 Shiraz

Hazyblur 02 Barossa SHiraz [never heard of these guys but the rest of the wines are not good vintages]


Reply by dmcker, Aug 16, 2010.

Thanks, Stephen, again.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 17, 2010.

Not SHiraz totally but had an intersting tasting on Friday night.  We had just finished the Audit of Austrlian VIntage Limited which is a large Australian Wine Coy which produces a lot of wine for for the Supermarket Chains and is generally known for its Cask [Australian equivalent of Jug Wine] and low priced bottles.

They do however own a couple of more premium brands being Nepenthe and Yaldara and do make some good wines under those labels

Nepenthe is an intersting story as it was originally owned by the Tweddel famiily and the Patriach Dr Ed Tweddel was CEO of an Australian Pharmacetical business FH Faulding who had operations in New Jersey.  Ed would often stopover at San Francisco and drive down to a restaurant at Big Sur, called Nepenthe and liked it so much he named his winery after it.  I know this because I was fortunate enough to stop there in Jan 2003 when driving from Carmel to San  Luis Obispo and the young lady serving us told us the story, which was quite a coincidence as I was also a member of the Faulding audit team and knew Ed reasonably well [small world eh!] The restaurant was fantastic with its view of the Ocean, but we were travelling with 3 kids, 15,12, & 7 so a memorable meal and lots of great wine was not on the agenda - but a bowl of chowder and fries with a glass white and a coffee was a nice way to take in the view of the pacific ocean

Any way the CFO organised the Nepenthe Winemaker to do a tasting for his finance team and my audit team to wrap up the week.

Nepenthe is based in the Adelaide Hills and Yaldara is predominantly Barossa based.

We started with

Nepenthe 2010 Sauvignon Blanc v Pascal Jolivet 2007 Pouilly Fume

This really showed how dramatic a style difference you can get between two wines from the same grape.  The Nepenthe was a very fresh, capsicum, fruity white with lots of acid, but not a lot of tannin or depth, nice and fresh for a glass and great with a natural Oyster or two.  The Jolivet was a much more complex wine and had tremendous depth of flavour, tasted like it had a dash of semillon

Nepenthe Ithaca 2007 & 2008 Chardonnay v Christian Moreau 2007 Premier Cru Vaillons Chablis

The 2007 Nepenthe Ithaca Chardonnay won Best Chardonnay in the world at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2009.  It is a very very good chardonnay, is it that good I am not sure but it certainly was more the a match for the Moreau, even though it was a more of a other than chablis white burgundy style.  The 2008 was also very good.  The Nepenthe has a very good depth and I like the balance of buttery and toasty flavours, the Moreau is a typical Chablis and I do like the more sharper and acidic expression of Chardonnay found in the Chablis style.  All three definitely worth a look if you can locate them

We also had a Donnhoff 2008 Riesling which is a drier style of German riesling which is much closer to the typical Australian style. I quite liked this as it had excellent acid and was well balanced with really good primary citrus fruit

2010 Nepenthe Pinot Gris - pretty good for Aussie Gris and a good simple pleasant quaffer.

A GSM - 2009 Maxime Francois Laurent "il Fait Soif" Cotes du  Rhone.  This a very pleasant GSM [given it is not my favoutite style] this caught me off guard just how drinkable it was and I am going to buy another one AUD50 to have another look and decide how much I liked it.

French Shiraz - 2007 Souhaut Syrah VDP de l'Arche - hmmm maybe my palate but not nice, a very dirty, meaty shiraz with something unpleasant both on the nose and on the palate, Andre [the Nepenthe Winemaker] could not pick any faults eg cork, brett, VA, random Oxidation etc.  He thought it was just a local style and the Winemaker Herve Souhat is a bit of a Rockstar winemaker and this style is his signature.

Barossa Shiraz - Yaldara Farms 2006, excellent Barossa Shirazaged in American Oak but the balance of primary black current flavoured fruit and vanilla Oak was excellent, also had a 2008 which was not quite as good and reflected age and lesser vintage.

Finally a 2006 Coonwarrra Cabernet - Shortlist.  Not a bad cab [100% Cab Sav] But plenty of better ones available from 06 Vintage.

A good night was had by all

Reply by dmcker, Aug 17, 2010.

So why was the comparison made between the Moreau Chablis and the Nepenthe chard, when by your description the Nepenthe had more of a style from further south in Burgundy? Wouldn't it have been better to choose a representative from the Côte de Beaune?

Interesting story about the name for that wine, too, and very much a small-world feeling to hear how it was arrived at. I've been to that restaurant dozens of times, maybe even triple digits, starting from the late '60s when I was a mere whippersnapper. Back in the '60s, '70s and even into the '80s Big Sur was a very different place, crazier and wilder and more into all sorts of countercultural endeavors. Nepenthe was a touchstone and gathering place of sorts for awhile, but later went the route of so much in that state and the rest of the States and commercialized to a considerable degree. It wasn't so during that earlier period, though, and I spent many an afternoon, evening or even several days in that specific vicinity with people who worked or frequented the place. There was magic in that region and community, and Nepenthe was part of it back then.

Nowadays, I usually try to stop there for a meal when driving through, down that shockingly lovely coast, or when I stop off for a seminar at nearby Esalen, but it's only a pale shadow of its old self. That being said, even today you could do a lot worse than sit on their terrace for a few hours on an afternoon, with a drink of wine or whatever, listening to the chimes and bells ringing from the winde rustling among the redwoods on those hills, staring down that beautiful coast, whether the weather's clear or misty. The only time I've felt anything similar has been on a bluff in the Greek islands, staring across the channels of glimmering sea between the neighboring islands, watching the sun go down and wondering how different, if at all, things were back when Ulysses was meandering that way. Different heroic figures, if any, for the Big Sur, of course.

In a thread that started a few days after this one, entitled something like 'Calling All Rhone People', I talked of the first non-French syrah that brought me an epiphany regarding the possibiities for that grape in California, back in the early-mid '80s. It was by Joseph Phelps, and I was sitting on that terrace at Nepenthe when I drank it.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Aug 17, 2010.

The choice was a bit of my fault and driven mainly by what was in the fridge and chilled at the nearest bottleshop and I agree something from the  xxxxx Monrachets would have been better but contrast was good and Andre being a young and very focused young winemaker was totally wrapped that a what he thought was a going to be a boring Friday tasting for the beancounters had a twist to it.  He took the leftover Riesling and GSM home for furher contemplation!

I can imagine that Nepenthe would have been a great spot in the 70's early 80's unfortunately my travel budget would have only got me to the local beaches!!!

The drive is stunning down the coast and I will do it again [with no kids!]

The shiraz grape can be used to produce everything from boring commercial to stunning and has every iteration from cool climate elegance to big barossa fruit [sadly also over engineered french "funkiness" and long hang time, over oaked, high alcohol parker plum juice

Bit like life really!

If you get a chance to have a look at Henschke Mt Edelstone 02 Eden Valley Shiraz, I think it shows just what shiraz is capable at at AUD100 rather than AUD500 for Rhone/Aussie/California Superstars

Reply by dmcker, Aug 17, 2010.

As you can see by the website, the Nepenthe restaurant and gift shop (and now also cafe) has been considerably commercialized. When I first started visiting; the giftshop was more a local market-day, very hippy-centric with the individual craftspersons selling their wares on site. Met lots of interesting people there. Now it's more a touristy reststop giftshop kind of feel on top of that counter-culture, new-age substrate. Yet ther jewelry selection is somehow a cut above with some very interesting pieces.

The most visible portions of the website neglect to mention that the building around which the three establishments were built used to be the home of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. Amongst other things, Orson was known for the acuity of his vision and sensitivity to beauty, and this was one helluva view he selected. Arthur Miller lived in a cabin just across PCH and up the hill.

Also not properly discussed in the website is the origin of the name selected for the commercial establishment: 'Nepenthe'. The classic nectar of forgetfulness for Helen of Troy as she left Greece behind her, and Odysseus on his roundabout way home in the denoument from that event, it was a particularly appropriate name back in the place's prime in the '60s and '70s. Not so much opiates as belladona and scopalomine (long before the likes of burundanga), they were to be encountered nearly as frequently in the area as mushrooms, peyote and acid, though not as often as cannabis. Now, the lulling comes mostly from the wind, sun and wine or beer....

Reply by A J Hoadley, Sep 2, 2010.

A little late noticing this thread, Stephen, but thanks for your overview of Australian shiraz.

Just to clarify, La Ciornia shiraz is produced under my small label, La Violetta. Fruit for this wine is sourced from the Kalgan River vineyard, 20km SE of the Porongurup Ranges in WA.

Kalgan River Wines produce outstanding shiraz, shiraz/viognier, riesling and cabernet from the same vineyard (see Halliday 2011).

La Ciornia is brought into the UK in limited quantities by

Greenstone, Collector, The Wanderer and The Story are some other Aus shiraz I'd consider worth checking out.


Andrew Hoadley

Reply by dmcker, Sep 2, 2010.

Good to see your post, Andrew.

I'm the one who originally mentioned your La Ciornia/La Violetta back up on the first page of this thread. It was a pleasant surprise to meet your wine, though that was a year or two ago. Anything more you can tell us about it (as well as whether you export it to Japan)? And what do you particularly like about the other wines you recommend?


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 2, 2010.


Who is distributing your wine in SA

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 2, 2010.

Does anyone have any knowledge of

Quivira Vineyards & Winery, 4900 West Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, California 95448

They have a close relationship with Torbreck Wines from the Barossa

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