Wine Talk

Snooth User: queendom

Shiraz

Posted by queendom, Mar 15, 2010.

When I visit some wine shops, I happen to notice that most Australian wines are shiraz. Is shiraz primarily more popular in Australia? What's your favorite shiraz?

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Replies

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Reply by NVRWINE, Mar 15, 2010.

Try "Laughing Jack Shiraz", i love it and you may when you try

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Reply by amour, Mar 15, 2010.

Australians have been planting SHIRAZ since the mid-19th century.

YES...it is known as the WORKHORSE GRAPE!

It is usually matured in American oak (Spicy, vanilla-tinged barrels)

As I understand it, there are about 4 styles of AUSTRALIAN  SHIRAZ.

From the Central and Southern Victoria area

comes the peppery, spicy, Rhone Valley/France type.

From the Barossa Valley, comes the dense wines like PENFOLD'S Grange.

From the COONAWARRA and CLARE VALLEY, that smooth, red-cherry style.

And from Hunter Valley, NEW SOUTH WALES, the earthy more rustic fellows!

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Reply by amour, Mar 15, 2010.

A while ago,  I did like the BLACK OPEL from BAROSSA VALLEY !

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Reply by zufrieden, Mar 15, 2010.

If you like thick, filling, layered, bramble-berry pie flavors topped off with high alcohol (but usually in balance - from the better producers), you'll like the Shiraz (a.k.a Syrah) from Oz.  The vines upon which these wines are based - in my opinion, at least - have lost most of their connection to their Rhone Valley homeland.  But that does not a bad thing make.

In recent years, the power and grace of the better wines from the sub-regions mentioned by Amour has not gone unrecognized.  My personal favorite is Amon-Ra by Glaetzer (Barossa) closely followed by The Factor by Torbreck (also Barossa) but there are many other similarly crafted Parkeresque-style wines out there for the discerning wine drinker.  But you don't have to pay as much as in the case of the two examples I give; 15 to 20 dollars will almost certainly provide you with fine quality Shiraz from these regions.  Try Heartland Wines Shiraz, Hewitson Ned & Henry's or Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz.

Cheers and happy quaffing!

 

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Reply by chadrich, Mar 16, 2010.

It may go without saying, but since no one has said it....Shiraz in Australia is the same grape as Syrah in most of the rest of the world.  Just a slightly different name.

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Reply by gregt, Mar 16, 2010.

Queen - actually grenache used to be the popular grape in Australia, partly because it produced well and partly because it had lots of sugar and could make port-like wines and brandies, etc.  Then in the latter part of the 1900s, they ripped up a lot of it, thinking that shiraz would be more profitable.  And they sure sold a lot of shiraz.  Success begat success so the number of shiraz bottlings kept increasing as long as people were buying.

The result is that you see mostly shiraz in your wine shops when you look for Australian wine.  But they do grow a lot of other things and increasingly, you will find those.  They've been making good cabernet sauvignon for many many years and they make really good white wines that are very inexpensive and good.  In addition, they're planting a number of red grapes that didn't originate in France - grenache of course, is from Spain, but they're putting in other Spanish grapes and Portugese grapes and there's some decent zinfandel too.  So keep looking.

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Reply by GTSOPRANO, Mar 16, 2010.

Syrah from Tuscany, which isn't too prevalent as a varietal, can be a beautiful thing.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 16, 2010.

Just received an email offer for some more-than-decent syrah from closer to home: 2005 Tallulah Bald Mtn. Ranch MT. Veeder Syrah, at $19 a bottle. Usually $45. From Parker about their 2004: "From Napa, the 2004 Syrah Bald Mountain Ranch possesses classic blackberry and cassis characteristics interwoven with notions of camphor and graphite. Made in a polished, refined, sophisticated style with authoritative flavors as well as abundant finesse and elegance, it should drink well for a decade. Like all of these offerings, it seems to have one foot in the New World with their ripeness and flavor dimension, and one foot in Europe with their elegance and stylishness. 91 points."

Looks like something worth hopping on, if you're in the market at that price point, and you'll likely find it a lot smoother than many versions of Australian shiraz. One good thing about the economy these days is the wine deals just keep on rollin'...

http://campaign.constantcontact.com/render?v=001AYtQarwRIsBv0BrLkqGP9sy8-60JH9pI2lV_X-ra69ovu2D4RXAJ5mRa0dG4Gk50cHYVe2Uxgmg3yV4Fm6h5CNjA3dbT7AXoLCqTC8yPeaHV81ZjLySm9w%3D%3D


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Reply by dmcker, Mar 17, 2010.

Another offer I received in the email, this time for a Spanish syrah at $27 (usually nearly twice that), might be interesting to someone who likes Aussie shirazzes. Finca Sandoval, Manchuela (from Castilla), 2005 vintage. A link to some tasting notes to it is at bottom. More of an 'international' fruit-bombish style than something from the Northern Rhone, but not as bad as plenty in Oz or Paso Robles. An interesting variation on the syrah blend theme, for sure.

http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=358722


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Reply by zufrieden, Mar 17, 2010.

Yes, California Syrah (usually so-called rather than Shiraz) does tend toward firmer, smoother, somewhat less alcoholic wine with slightly muted power - more like Cote-Rotie or Cornas than a Shiraz from Oz.

At least, in my experience - though I have no tasting notes at hand to refresh my memory.

Some nice Syrah examples coming from the Sierras and Mendocino which I hope to see at the up-coming Vancouver International Wine Festival next month.  

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Reply by fibo86, Mar 18, 2010.

 we have plantings of Shiraz all over Australia and Barossa (well known for shiraz) isn't in Victoria it's in South Australia along with Clare valley (well known for Riesling), Mclaren Vale (shiraz) and Coonawarra (well known for Cabernet) and we have all types of varieties and regions so not all of our shiraz are the big monsters of the Barossa.

I think the only state or territory that doesn't produce wine is the Northen Territory as it's just too hot.

Also not all Shiraz here is aged in American oak. Have to go to work now but will put in my loves upon my return.

But you are right in the sense we have varied styles depending on the region

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Reply by zufrieden, Mar 18, 2010.

I think Australia made the right choice to divorce Grenache and embrace a second marriage with Shiraz - a far superior grape in my opinion. (There are  wonderful old vines Grenache/Garnacha wines but let us call these little miracles for the moment; far too much flabby, soupy wine is made from this grape).  Whether this choice was initially driven by fad or the mysterious intelligence of the average wine drinker is really academic; the result has been marvelous!  

Of course, there are wonderful Australian examples of wines made from all the other major vinifera grape varieties, but why stray from Shiraz? Down Under is producing both good, sturdy everyday wine as well as world class fruit-bombs from this grape.  

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Reply by fibo86, Mar 18, 2010.

@zufrienden, we have some of the oldest grenache vines in the new world in Barossa and to top it off you just get some of the major producers over there which aren't really some of the better producers for the variety.

If you think that we only produce great fruit- bombs (that are world class) you definately need to come to Australia and experiance the full range of whats available. As it's a plethera of wines all varieties and styles again depending on region.

Maybe distancing ourselves from R.P jr might help the cause as he loves the big fruit bombs.

If you are down under at anytime let me know and I'll show you what I mean.

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Reply by amour, Mar 19, 2010.

WOW !!  Ambassador fibo68!!!!

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Reply by queendom, Mar 19, 2010.

Good notes folks...thanks. Oh, I'll be sure to check out Australia's rieslings. I wish to explore shiraz more, but was looking for more medium bodied.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 19, 2010.

If you want 'medium bodied' you should look first to France and the Rhone. Some Cotes du Rhone (check the varietal breakdown to be sure the blend has plenty of syrah in it, since sometimes there will be mostly grenache with no, or almost no, syrah; nevertheless, they, too, can be nice drinking wines) are the most economical places to start, though in the Northern Rhone, St. Joseph and Crozes Hermitage (rather than Cote Rotie and Hermitage) are also areas to look that won't rupture the bank. Most New World (esp. Australia but also the West Coast of the US) versions will tend to be larger, with many fruit bombs lurking. Not all, though, so enjoy the hunt!  ;-)   Besides California, also try looking in the Walla Walla area of Washington.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 19, 2010.

And in California, why not start with that Bald Mountain Ranch deal that I mention above? It won't be as big as many. Also look for Neyers offerings when you can find them.

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Reply by zufrieden, Mar 19, 2010.

Good suggestions all, D. I will try my favorite wine merchant in Bellingham WA for some of your suggestions myself.

In response to the comments on my own opinion regarding Oz Shiraz (versus Grenache), I was glad that we were all reminded of the history of Grenache in South Australia.  I have had both good experiences with everyday and premium wines from Grenanche, but just don't feel the variety can match the finesse and power of Syrah/Shiraz - at least, not ordinarily.  But I shall be seeking out some (very) old vines Australian Grenache at my next tasting with more than the usual enthusiasm. I'm pretty certain not to be disappointed.

On another note, I may (fairly) soon make an arduous plane flight to what was once known as the ends of the earth ( c.f. the trilogy by the late British author William Golding) so it is good to know that snooth is truly a global network!

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 20, 2010.

So where are you planning to spend your time in Oz, Zuf?

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Reply by gregt, Mar 20, 2010.

That Talullah is pretty good stuff.  And there is more. 

But Zu - I'm not sure I agree that shiraz is a superior grape.  When done well, it's one of my favorite grapes, but there's more enjoyable, drinkable, grenache in the world. I'm usually confident that if I pick up an unknown wine from south France or Spain and it's grenache, it's going to be enjoyable at least, if not great.  In some cases however, it truly is great.  It tends to overcrop and produce grapes with high sugar content, but that's more about vineyard management than anything else.  I tried an excellent grenache from Wind Gap wines the other day - maybe one of the best I've had from CA.  Those wines of course are made by Pax Mahle, who is no longer part of the company that bears his name.  But the new wines are very different and much more restrained than his earlier wines. 

From Australia, don't overlook Clarendon, which may be the pre-eminent producer of grenache.  If you can find it, try something from Cirillo, which may have the oldest vines around. And try these wines with a few years on them.

But also look for Magpie's The Fakir, which I had a few nights ago at 8 years old and which was developing wonderfully, or Craneford, which also seems to age well,  or Piramimma, or even Yalumba Bush Vine.  And surprisingly, Yangarra Old Vine seems to do well with some time.  That's owned by KJ but he's left them alone and of the entire lineup, I think it's the best.  It can be a little reductive initially, but once it opens, it's a great example of ageable wine for short term and it's also inexpensive.

More importantly, don't overlook Spain.  I had the Finca Dofi the other day.  It's as complex and profound as any syrah I've tasted.

Victor de la Serna's wine that Dmucker mentioned is a good example of syrah in Spain.  There isn't all that much when compared to other grapes, but there's no reason it can't do well there.  I never found the Sandoval to be a fruit bomb however. 

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