General Chat

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 A J Hoadley, Sep 3, 2010.


It was a pleasant surprise to see mention of La Ciornia here, as it hasn't been shown or distributed widely - still quite young.

No exports to Japan as yet, but that would certainly be interesting, though I don't know that market at all. Could you suggest an importer in Japan doing small volume Australian wines?

The wine has been well received by UK wine writers (see links below) and the public, so most of it is going there for now, but I'm retaining some for Australian distribution once my licence is finalised (nothing in SA yet, Stephen).

What I enjoyed about the shiraz I mentioned is that they're more focused on perfume, elegance and balance than on fruit sweetness, extract and confectionary oak. I tend to like medium weight shiraz that expresses something ethereal that you can't quite put your finger on. The Greenstone is a particular favourite.


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 5, 2010.

Found a local bottleshop with the following US wines - what is worth having a look at?


Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel 06 & Sonoma Zinfandel 07


Outpost Howell Mountain Zinfandel 04


Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 00


Raymond Rutherford Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 02




Reply by dmcker, Sep 5, 2010.

I would go first for the Seghesio zin and the RM Napa Valley cab. I'd be curious how therir condition might be. Any reports upcoming?

Can't remembr having an Outpost, so someone else should advise in that direction. What are the prices for each?

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 5, 2010.

Seg 06 AUD 80

Seg 07 AUD 60

Outpost AUD 140

Mondavi AUD 75

Raymond AUD 65

Reply by dmcker, Sep 5, 2010.

The 2006 Outpost Howell Mt. zin is going for US$50 at K&L Wines. Thomas Brown is, I believe, the winemaker, which more than justifies giving it a try, in my book anyway. I really like his Rivers Marie offerings (pinot noir from Summa and Occidental Ridge vineyards near Occidental on the Sonoma Coast; chardonnay from B. Thieriot vineyard, even the label's Napa cab). I just haven't run across a bottle of the Outpost zin yet.

I still stand by my reccs of the other two. even if 2000 might not be the best year for Mondavi, it's still quite drinkable. And you should try the Seghesio zin expression to further your education. ;-)  In my experience the Raymond is the weakest of that lot, though it's not a terrible wine, at all.

Reply by dmcker, Sep 5, 2010.

BTW, I assume you're aware that Mondavi's Napa Valley cab is generally a 'simpler', lighter product than their reserve, and in that respect might be said to display a more French sensibility. I've tended to use it for 'weekday' drinking, and it's always been good with food.

That vintage of that wine I remember liking the Bordeaux-like nose more than the palate, though that's not to run down the wine while in the mouth. Only had a few bottles, but the petit verdot part of the blend seemed to particularly stand out.

Since it's a large-production bottling (not sure if it was 80,000 cases or 80,000 bottles, since I remember seeing both figures in print elsewhere than from the winery), I view it as being, at least at release prices, good value by CA name-brand cab standards. And since so much was produced and sent to whomever wherever, provenance is an issue. Don't really want a bottle that has been standing in a warm, brightly lit liquor store upright for great lengths of time. Thus my question above about the bottle's condition.

Reply by dmcker, Sep 5, 2010.

If the bottle has been stored well, though, now might just be close to its peak. Guess there's one way to find out...

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 5, 2010.

I will grab the Seg Zins next week and let you know

About to head to the Gold Coast for work.  Will get some good tasting opportunities as part of a couple of functions I am attending.

2006 Oremus Dry Furmint

2008 Pallio San Floriano Verdicchio ‘dei Castelli di Jesi’

2008 Cantine Pra Soave Classico (Garganega)

2007 Antinori  ‘Peppoli’ Chianti Classico (Sangiovese, Merlot & Syrah)

2005 Argiano Non Confunditur IGT (Cab Sauv, Sangiovese, Merlot, Syrah)

2009 Torres Vina Sol (Parellada)

2008 Torres Gran Vina Sol (Chardonnay, Parellada)

Will post reviews of those I get to taste

Reply by zufrieden, Sep 5, 2010.

Digression is good, and let me add that I enjoyed the peregrinations of this thread.  However, getting back to the initial thesis (if one can be divined), I would suggest that the two major types of Syrah (Aussie and French) are so different as to be (almost) considered different varieties!  Enjoy both for what they are, is my sincere recommendation.

Yes, I probably prefer the French version(s), but this is a very, very strange statement given that I love both.  It would be better to consider your needs of the moment when you speak of which expression of the great Syrah/Shiraz you want for the moment at hand.  I love both; but if on a desert island, I would have  serious problem deciding which wine I would want if given but one choice.  I prefer the subtlety of French (northern Rhone) over the powerful beauty of (say) Aussie Shiraz, but then, I must confess to a true love (women know what I am talking about) of the Northern Rhone.  Still, the beauty of an Australian woman has the same power to move me as a Cote-Rotie or a native of that region of origin...

Note that I am a person of the north and easily seduced by southerners.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 5, 2010.

Z - Despite being an Aussie, I like both styles and many Aussie makers are making Rhone style shiraz

I am concerned that the Parker debate is polarising wine assessment at the moment.

Whilst I am not a follower or a Parker convert and I hate the fact that winemakers try to chase Parker ratings, it does concern me that too many of us take an anti Parker position ie "If Parker rates it high then it must by definition not be to my style"

I do not like excessive alcohol or the obsession with ultra-ripe fruit, however there is nothing wrong IMHO with a fruit driven wine that is well made and has good balance of acids, tannins etc etc.

Unfortunately too many Aussie winemakers went down the route of trying to appease the Parker palate and produced 16%+ alcohol wines from heavily extracted overripe fruit.  Generally this wine CRAP [Completely Ridiculously Alcoholic P!$$]

But I have tried a lot of wines that get 95+ Parker scores and find then outstanding wines. I must say too I have read his book on Bordeaux and found it an excellent detailed account of the region.

Reply by drinkersdigest, Sep 5, 2010.

Just weighing into this. As an Australian I am biased, though I have a great fondness for Cote Rotie.

Reading this thread it occurs to me that most people only know about Barossa Shiraz. An interesting article was written for Decanter magazine by Andrew Jefford who, after spending 18 months visiting vineyards across our wide brown land legitimately questions whether the Barossa is suitable for the varietal at all.

I'd like to highlight some other regions and producers who're making leaps forward with the Shiraz in Australia entirely excluding South Australia.

Hunter Valley: Meerea Park, Tyrrell's, McWilliams Mount Pleasant.

Canberra District: Clonakilla, Collector, Eden Rd.

Beechworth: Giaconda, Battely, Castagna, Star Lane.

Heathcote: Jasper Hill, Shadowfax, Tyrrell's

Great Western (Vic): Seppelt, Best's, 

Frankland River: Frankland River Estate, Alkoomi, Houghton.

Margaret River: Cape Mentelle, Sandalford, Voyager.

A starting point at least. Whilst there are undoubtably some very fine Barossa Shiraz being produced- the varietal suits mainly cooler regions than the Barossa Valley floor which is the style that we're recognised for the world over.



Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 6, 2010.

I agree that a lot of people have only heard about Barossa Shiraz from an Aussie viewpoint but that is mainly due to longevity, volume and marketing.

I read Jeffords article and I get the feeling his tastes are very much the old style French wines made in the very tannic less fruit driven style that characterised many French wines.  His view on Barossa shiraz is I think strange to say the least and his reasoning made little sense to me.  Particularly when you consider the success that Barossa Winemakers have had on the domestic and international stages.

Like all wine regions, the vagaries of weather patterns will impact wine.  You only have to look at Hunter Valley.  The quasi tropical climate of the location of the region makes every year a difficult task for its legion of outstanding winemakers.  All of them privately pray for weather patterns that are less volatile so they can make great wines year in year out.  Heathcote has had severe drought problems over the last 5 years which has contributed to stressed fruit and a slight decline in quality [although I suspect this weekends rainfall will fix that so hopefully they will be back to their pre 2005 form.  The cool climate regions like Canberra and Beechworth seem to suffer the twin dangers of frost and smoke taint.  Clonakilla produced almost none of their Shiraz/Viognier in 2007 and Giaconda was limited in 2007 due to smoke taint and frost issues.  Padthway has had serious watertable issues causing salt concerns and generally their wines have been off the pace since 2004.

Barossa has the advantage that it does have much friendlier weather patterns for winemakers and therefore have a more consistent fruit crop year in year out.  Whilst there has been a number of excessively hot years recently which have contributed to some increase in overripe fruit, I suspect that this is part of our weather patterns, global warming or no global warming.

Going back to Jefford, he clearly prefers terrior expression to fruit expression, his call, I am not wedded to either, my expectations is that a winemaker does the best job they can with the fruit available.  If they want to experiment and try to push the envelope to produce something special then I am for that.  Experimenting does not always work but I am sure that all the First Growths, Grand Cru's etc of the Old World have experimented to get where they are today and my reading suggests that all regions have gone through flat spots in their history, sometimes due to weather, sometimes due to arrogance, sometimes disinterested owners, financial misfortune, marital split ups [they are very prominent in the real reasons for wineries falling from grace] etc etc.

Barossa will always grow shiraz, its winemakers must however continue to make best use of the fruit.

Bordeaux will be a cabernet/merlot based region

Burgundy pinot and so on

Barossa is lucky, it can make realtively high volumes of very good wine, which is why it is seen by more people.

I contrast that to Andrew Hoadley from Kalgan River who is a small producer from WA and his wines are more difficult to find.


Reply by drinkersdigest, Sep 6, 2010.

Slightly off topic but hear me out please Stephen...

Yes Jefford is a francophile, he covers mainly France for Decanter.

I too agree the Barossa is lucky for the reasons you've outlined and more, the region is by global geographical indicators massive, with a wide cross section of different terroirs and microclimates. Also unlike Burgundy and Bordeaux no body legislates what may be grown within its borders. Allowing for innovation and experimentation, which brings me to my point.

During the sixties and seventies most Aussie blokes drank beer or whisky. Those who enjoyed wine where looked at as eccentric europeans or effeminate.

In the eighties and nineties, big broad oaky Hunter Chardonnay ruled the white wine category where it could be enjoyed over a businessmans lunch and could still be tasted after the aforementioned whiskies. Abroad Jacobs Creek spearheaded the marketing campaign and alerted the world to our modern winemaking capabilites.

The nineties saw gains made on this reputation and further expansion with clear varietal labelling and precise and generous wines at affordable prices thanks to Brand Australia.

By the noughties the Dolly Parton Chardonnay had worn out its welcome. The buxom singer was being replaced by aromatic and anaemic Sauvignon Blanc from across the ditch. Consumers were actively telling us this by joining ABC luncheon clubs.

Chardonnay's had to reinvent itself to hold onto its places on restaurant lists and bottleshop fridges. Modern lean wines are coming from cooller vineyard sites and starting a ground swell of enthusiasm for the varietal again.

Similarlly massive shiraz's that've always impressed with awesome displays of alcohol and fruit are out of touch with modern Australia and the wine drinking world at large.

Yes the Barossa does ripen shiraz regularly. Though I'd argue the most interesting wine made in the Barossa isn't 100% Shiraz. Dave Powell of Torbreck and Runrig fame has gone on record as saying the favourite wine he makes is the GSM blend "The Steading."

I feel that Barossa Shiraz is struggling to hold its traditional mantle in the modern marketplace. However as tastes change and we become serious about getting a large slice of that dream market, Asia. It is easy to imagine Shiraz giving up vineyard space in the Barossa to varieties like Tempranillo which ripen early and retain good natural acidity, are fun to drink unoaked and can compliment the complex cuisines of India and east Asia.

Like Chardonnay before it Shiraz will have to reinvent itself outside its spiritual home to keep its place in our cellars.



Reply by dmcker, Sep 6, 2010.

Nice overview of recent decades, DD, and particularly the pointer towards the opportunities that 'Asia' presents to, I'm afraid, head off in another exagerrated direction....

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 6, 2010.




I agree with a lot of what you say but you but you need to put in context of size, Barossa grows over 60,000 tonnes of grapes which translates into around 4-5m 9L equivalent cases.  As you can see from the stats below Shiraz represents 40% of this total. I would also note that Barossa plantings in the last 12 years has only increased by a modest 3.5%

It is highly unlikely that economics will allow a major shift. Unfortunately many writers like Jefford like to ignore basic economics when it comes to making broad statements about wine.

Many Barossa growers and wineries are experimenting with different varieties but the cost of a wholesale shift from Shiraz to as yet unproven varietals is going to be very difficult justify in an environment where wine as an investment and banking proposition has Oenophilic equivalent of severe cork taint ie its on the nose!!!.

I might add that this is not a uncommon phenonema and we have seen it happen in Bordeaux, Napa and other well known regions.

I see the challenge for Barossa as being more alert to consumer trends and perhaps going back to some of the great Barossa Shiraz of the past which were 13%-14% alcohol.  The 1990 Grange that won the big Spectator gong was 13.5% and is still drinking like a wine with many years left.

I agree wines such as DP's GSM are very interesting and I like it a lot, but Barossa faces similar problems to what Bordeaux faced in the 1970's after a series of very poor vintages [mainly due to poor weather], lack of funding for many Chateau due to poor global financial conditions ie 74 Oil crisis etc etc, and an arrogant lack of foresight into what was happening in the global world.  The GFC and a staggeringly strong AUD.  Remember that most Australian wine was priced into the the US at 45c to 60c and UK at 33p to 40p and Europe at .6Euro compared to US 92c, UK 56p and Euro 0.7.  Combine this with poor economic conditions and global oversupply of wine [I had an amazing Portuguese red wine here at retail AUD7.99 - only the retailer makes money at that price] Australian Wine and Barossa has got a major challenge.

The solution is not to forget their heritage, but to refine it, reshape it, refocus it.  The cost of converting Barossa to Tempranillo when we are geting lots of very good Spanish Tempranillo imported here at a shelf price that makes no economic sense for us to produce it and Spain does not look like either reducing its production or contributing to a strengthening Euro any time soon.

I have no doubt Barossa will suceed if it focuses its attention on what it does well, look at how to blend shiraz with other varieties to produce interesting wines [as Wolf Blass did so successfully and Penfolds and Yalumba] but it alos needs to ensure it produces its headline wine true to its style that reflects the climatic conditions of the Barossa. 

Barossa will never do cool climate shiraz like Beechworth and they will never do Barossa shiraz and neither they should.

I have a great belief that the Australian Consumer will always respect and enjoy a well made product and yes we will see fluctuations but that is because often we over commercialise and forget the basic economics of growth [just like the dotcom era].

Riesling lost out because we decided to make to much weak insipid wine to pander to a fad, NZSB is heading in the same direction. Chardonnay, despite the ABC club is still the highest volume white by volume and the focus at the top end has returned and sales are increasing because wine makers have gone back to the basics of making chardonnay the way the grape is designed to be made, not a contrived overoaked style that the RP/JR/AJ of the time fell in love with toyed with and them discarded like an old toy when it suited them.

Anyway I have faith

I have provided some facts below for those who are interested




Barossa wine industry characteristics


The processing operations of several major wine companies are located in the Barossa, making it the major processing hub for the Australian wine industry. Grapes are delivered to these processing centres from other wine regions (in addition to locally-grown grapes) for processing, packaging and distribution.

 In 2009 approximately 60,087 tonnes of Barossa grown grapes were processed in the Barossa with an estimated value of more than $70 million.

In the 11 year period 1997-2009 Barossa grape production grew 3.5% from 57,983 to 60,087 tonnes. In 2009 this level of production accounted for 10% of total South Australian production and around 4% of total Australian production.

 Barossa grown grapes only account for approximately 16% of the total grapes processed in the Barossa (Source: Wine Industry Impact Review, Barossa and Light Regional Development Board).

 There are approximately 13,626 hectares of vineyards in the Barossa wine region,

 66.5% of these being red grape varieties and 33.5% being white varieties.

 Red Grapes - tonnes crushed Shiraz 24,076, Cabernet Sauvignon 7569, Grenache 3726, Merlot 3350 tonnes.

 White Grapes - tonnes crushed Riesling 6410, Chardonnay 4976, Semillon 4393, Sauvignon Blanc 1392 tonnes.

 The average size of a Barossa vineyard is 17 ha with 57% of vineyards in the Barossa being less than 10ha (Source: Phylloxera Board).

 Existing Barossa wineries continue to invest individually and collectively a substantial amount promoting the Barossa wine region and its wines.

 Compared to the wine regions in the heavily irrigated areas of Australia‟ River Murray and Griffith NSW, the Barossa is a low yielding region with relatively high production costs but the quality of grapes it produces is generally higher.

 There is a considerable disparity in prices paid for grapes in the Barossa ranging in 2009 from $11,409 a tonne to $300 a tonne (source: Phylloxera and Grape Industry Board of SA).

 The cost of grape production in the Barossa prohibits use in wine casks, unless grapes and wines are sold at little or no return to the grower and or the winery.

 The Barossa is Australia‟ most successful regional appellation after the big three generic appellations of SE Aust, South Australia and Australia. Since 2001 exports of Barossa wine have grown from 402,000 cases to 1.08M cases and in dollar terms from $39.1M to $109.9M



The top 5 export markets for Barossa wine are the USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand and Switzerland accounting for 67% of total export volume and 72% by value

 Despite its reputation as the premier quality provider of wine grapes, there is an excess supply of major varieties over the preferred intake of wine grapes from the Barossa.

 The Barossa is Australia‟ most famous wine region.

 First settled in 1840‟, today many of Barossa‟ vineyards are still owned by fifth and sixth generation vignerons who are proud custodians of their old dry grown vineyards and give the Barossa a unique viticultural heritage. Having never experienced Phylloxera, the Barossa today is home to some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world that date back to the 1850‟.

 The Barossa is the most recognised destination in South Australia, outside of Adelaide and as a result tourism is a major industry in the Barossa. The wine region has more than 70 cellar door outlets ranging from small outlets to large multi-purpose entertainment complexes.







Reply by Charles Emilio, Sep 7, 2010.

The original topic was definitely very vague as Australia does indeed produce a very diverse range of Shiraz.

My favourites are:

Great Western, Pyrenees, Heathcote, Beachworth and I also like McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Flerieu Peninsula.

Im yet to try many from WA but Im looking forward to it.

Reply by zufrieden, Sep 7, 2010.

Some of you out there seem to be laboring under the misconception that all we know about Aussie wine comes in a bottle of Shiraz from the Barossa Valley - or perhaps more pedestrian fare from South Australia generally.  This is not actually true in many cases - including my own - although it must be admitted that is rarely easy to obtain product to any consistent level of supply from some of the cooler regions down under.  In light of the many alternatives out there today, the footprint of the small producer is small indeed.  

The generally good quality and consistent production from regions like Barossa necessarily entails a certain wide-ranging presence of style set (but rarely met) by the aforementioned 1990 Grange of Penfolds. But this is not a bad thing - unless the Australian wine industry truly does depend on spasmodic reactions to change in fashion.  In my opinion, Oz is only just finding its way in terms of recognizable style. Lets not go from Parker-style fruit-bombs (as some suggest) to something different - perhaps something set by trends in the Celestial Empire - just for the sake of anticipating a fad.  This is potentially dangerous and costly territory - unless you want all wine production undertaken on industrial scale directed toward mass appeal and crowd-pleasing.

With or without Parker, I rather like the best red wines from Barossa whether pure varietal Shiraz or blends with same. Why change?

As for Jefford, I would have to address his comments separately. Unfortunately, time does not permit at the moment but suffice it say that I do not agree with him.  Australia is not France.  Period.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 8, 2010.


I like what you say and agree wholeheartedly with what you say. 

Sadly there is a lot of people who think that all we stand for is Jacobs Creek and Yellowtail and some excessive alcohol Barossa fruit bombs, and that is because there is many members of global wine press gallery who think that is a good summary of what we are.  Yes we do make really good cheap wine which is designed for the mass market, but so does the Central Valley in the US and I know there is no comparison between NapaSonoma and Gallo Jug Wine. Unfortunately lazy francophilic journos driven by fear they will not be wellcome in BBC [Bordeaux/Burgundy/Champagne] happily denigrate the rest of us without due cause

What I have liked about Snooth and forums is that it has made me think more about what we stand for here and to broaden my knowledge of other wine regions - US in particular because we see so little of it here.

Your final sentence is so right and it reinforces my view that we should all let the individual wine do the talking.  Sure it should be reflective of its region, but also of its fruit and of its maker.


Reply by drinkersdigest, Sep 8, 2010.

To dispel a few myths about Grange...

It is a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon blend often at around 5%.

Fruit is sourced from all over South Australia with the largest single vineyard aside from Kalimna regularly being in the McLaren Vale (Olivers Taranga).

Only 2001 is a 100% Shiraz sourced entirely from the Barossa and certainly one of the greatest ever crafted.

The 1990 which was Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" for 1995 is 5% Cabernet and sourced from Kalimna (Barossa), Clare Vally and Coonawarra.

The Grange project started in the cool climate region of the Adelaide Hills at Magill Estate. Where is was pre-dominantly centred until the Magill Estate was given its own label in 1983.

Production of Grange has returned here since 2002, though not any longer as a primary fruit source.

Penfolds Special Bins are arguably the pinnacle of Penfolds winemaking and made in only the best years. Only 1973 is a straight Barossa Shiraz. The rest are blends of Coonawarra and Kalimna Vineyard.

My point is that Penfolds is not a very suitable producer for advocating Barossa Shiraz, their scale of production sees them pulling fruit in from all over S.A if it is of sufficient quality.

It is guys like Rockford, Turkey Flat, Peter Lehmann, Kalleske, Teusner and Standish that'll sustain Shiraz in the Barossa. 

You point out spasmodic shifts of fashion, but the simple fact is our population is become more asiatic and our diet too.  Which is a partial reason for Aussie's almost unjustifiable love affair with two dimensional Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc- unoaked with loads of cleansing acidity.

I'd also argue that its better to be flexible and meet the needs of your customers than the tastes of one critic,  And it'll be easier for the Barossa to find a style which better suits the Celestial Empire than have them change their dietary habits to match one region... thats alot of Masterclasses- wouldn't you agree?!

As an example and to highlight Stephen Harveys figures of how significant the Barossa production is of the total Australian crush, I picked up an recent Gourmet Traveller Wine magazine with the title Best of the Best from May 2010 the traditional month for super premium reds to be released Grange, Hill of Grace etc. Of 29 Australian Red Wines reviewed in the quarterly Top 100. Fourteen were Shiraz and only ONE was from the Barossa (Elderton Command Shiraz; 94/100). There were 3 other Barossa blends and a Montepulciano in that mix.


Reply by Stephen Harvey, Sep 8, 2010.

Agree on the Grange point and Penfolds philosophy is the opposite to the the French appellation philosophy.  Grange is based on the best the variety can deliver rather than an individual vineyard or region.  I don't have a problem with either concept and don't see either as a being superior to the other.

Penfolds do make great Barossa Shiraz

RWT at 150-200 and Kalimna Bin 28 at 20-25.  They are excellent examples of Barossa Shiraz but made to different styles.

and the Fosters monolith is responsible for Wolf Blass, Saltrams, Pepperjack and goodness knows how many of the current Barossa Winemakers have plied there trade and learnt from experienced hands at those wineries eg Duvall, Pfieffer, Dolan, a vertiable army of Glaetzers etc etc

Australian Food palates have been changing significantly since the 70's with Italian, Greek, Chinese, Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Indian and French becoming more and more accessible.  The advent of pay TV and the current plethora of cooking shows have further broadened our food outlook.

My personal opinion and I have expressed this in many of my industry presentations is that we, the Australian industry, got what we deserved with the NZSB phenomena because we simply got seduced by the export markets and forgot me the domestic consumer.  We took our eye of the ball and treated me the local consumers with contempt.  Just as me does with politicians and other creatures that treat me with contempt me will vote with my collective feet.




Continue to the end of the thread to reply
Back to Categories

Popular Topics

  • posts

Top Contributors This Month

259386 Snooth User: zufrieden
11 posts
357808 Snooth User: vin0vin0
8 posts
1413489 Snooth User: dvogler
7 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network