Wine Talk

Snooth User: queendom


Original post 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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Reply by dmcker, Mar 20, 2010.

No, the Sandoval isn't a bomb with the Big Bertha weight of those from Alban Vineyards, Jaffur, Saxum or Rocca Family in CA, or Amavi (and yes that blend from Bergevin Lane that has some syrah in it they call 'Fruit Bomb' ;-) ) from Walla Walla, but still it's definitely larger with different spice and smokiness than most of the wines I've had from the Northern Rhone. Syrah is just different in the warmer climes of Spain, CA, even Walla Walla and certainly the Barossa, than back home in the Northern Rhone.

Here're a few interesting winemakers from St. Joseph I mentioned in another thread on Syrah (though they won't perhaps be the easiest to find):

St. Joseph is an area of the northern Rhone that has become a port of refuge of sorts. Costs are lower for the producers there and consequently to us as consumers. A number of iconoclastic trend-resisters have been creating a community there where less manipulation means more of the true essence and detail of the grapes and terroir in their wines. I've found that the St. Joseph reds of Domaine des Miquettes are reasonably priced, delicious old-skool Rhone syrahs. Because they are more traditional, though, they take a few years to open, so if you get the 2006s that are now on the market you should lay them down for a few years before opening. You might also keep your eyes peeled for any Dard et Ribo St. Josephs or Crozes Hermitages you might run across, as well as those from Herve Souhaut (Domaine Romaneuax Destezet) who is located just outside the Rhone classification and thus usually has vin de pays Ardeche on his labels. His Sainte Epine is actually from St. Joseph, though not labeled as such, and is worth the hunt.

For the sake of balance, there are also plenty of winemakers in CA and other areas now who are trying to move away from the fruitbomb. Besides those I've already mentioned in this thread, Copain is one I've mentioned in other threads, but there are several others out there worth the search. And in Walla Walla there are some value providers like Zerba Cellars that are a bit jammy and sweet but definitely not fruitbombs. K Vintners is another widely available producer that is in that grey area heading towards fruitbomb but not entirely there. In California, and IMHO on a higher level of quality you might put Ojai Vineyards in this category for their very ageable, complex, delicious syrahs. Santa Barbara and Paso Robles and Napa and Sonoma all have different microclimates and can produce monster bombs, but several growers and winemakers who I consider enlightened are trying to do things differently these days.

Reply by Charles Emilio, Mar 20, 2010.

@Zufrieden - I strongly recommend you try Australian cool climate Shiraz.. Barrosa, McLaren Vale et al is so passe.

Look for anthing from the following regions:

  • Heathcote 
  • Yarra Valley
  • Pyrenees
  • Grampians
  • Margaret River
  • Great Southern
  • Canberra District
  • Strathbogie Ranges

All of the Shiraz from these places are extremely elegant and so versatile when it comes to maching with food. A good cool climate Australian shiraz will go well with anything from game to a tuna steak cooked over coals. I've noticed it is becoming trendy for a lot of these cool climate producers to label their wines 'Syrah'.

In my honest opinion, they are very similar to Northern Rhone Syrah however generally more vibrant whereas northern Rhone Syrah can often be somewhat flat.

I havent had the chance to try many Syrah from the West Coast of the USA in recent years however I hear they are all the rage at the moment.



Reply by dmcker, Mar 21, 2010.

I've mentioned the Copain and Neyers syrahs from Sonoma and Napa, and the Ojai Vineyards from Santa Barbara, besides the special offers I started with earlier in the thread. Ridge also produces an interesting syrah, but some of the best will come from Peay, in northwestern Sonoma.

They are a bit pricier, but IMHO well worth it (especially since they're still much cheaper than similar levels of California cabernet). Kathryn Kennedy's from the Santa Cruz Mountains is a good 'cool climate' style. It's also less pricey:

There are several others (if you run across Qupe, they're certainly worth a try; and there's always Joseph Phelps, who's syrahs aren't bashful even if not the biggest fruitbombs, but they were the first California syrahs I tasted back in the early '80s and I still have a softspot for them), but these are a decent starting point, I think....

Reply by amour, Mar 21, 2010.

MALLEE POINT SHIRAZ (Australia)..medium-bodied $6. U.S. in

Miami, Florida.

ROSEMOUNT SHIRAZ (Australia)...medium-bodied $7.U.S. in

Miami, Florida.

Also available here is MILTON PARK SHIRAZ (Australia)...again a

lovely medium-bodied wine that tasted good to me! $10. U.S.

All of the above are available at TOTAL WINE, Miami,Florida.

Reply by RTGolfer, Mar 21, 2010.

If you want to drink some of the BEST Shiraz on the planet - go to BevMo and pick up a bottle of MollyDooker "The Boxer"  It is around $25.00 a bottle - make sure you go to their website and learn about "The Shake" before you open it... you will NOT be dissapointed - QUALITY JUICE

Reply by GregT, Mar 21, 2010.

And for the opposing viewpoint -

It's funny.  I never wanted to be one of those people who complained about over-the-top wines, etc. 

But that wine did it for me.  I found it an undrinkable mess.  And Sparky was pouring it.  He's so engaging that I really wanted to like the wines, but as the prices went up, the enjoyment went down. 

Then again, I had a 10 year old bottle of the S2 the other day and I felt the same way about that when I first tried it.  Left a few sitting untouched and now I'm glad to have them.  The oak has integrated much more and the fruit has become more interesting than simply being jam, so who knows. 

D - forgot about the Phelps but you're right - it's rarely spoken about but it's a very nice wine.  Had the 2001 about a week ago.  And Qupe is definitely worth seeking out too - the basic Santa Barbara bottling is one of the better deals out there.

So is Fess Parker's, RIP.

Reply by amour, Mar 21, 2010.

RTGolfer, thanks for mentioning MOLLY DOOKER SHIRAZ The Boxer 2008 (Wine spectator gave it 91)

I bought it for a friend at Total Wine here in Miami for around $27.U.S.

I also got MOLLY DOOKER 2 Left Feet as a fun wine! $25.

Both of these are  not bad at all!

Reply by amour, Mar 21, 2010.

Others which were suggested to me are:

Colonial Estate SHIRAZ EXPLORATEUR 2006 $20. U.S.

LAYER CAKE SHIRAZ Barossa Valley  $13.U.S.




TWO HANDS SHIRAZ  Angel Share  $33. U.S.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 21, 2010.

Queendom, this has been an amazingly fecund and enjoyable grape debate.  Thanks for bringing up the Australian wine experience.  And to the rest of you, thanks for reminding me again why I love the sunny Grenache-based wines of the southern Rhone and those of Catalonia like Priorat.  

Great list of wines.


Reply by zufrieden, Mar 21, 2010.

@Charles Emilio.  Yes, I have sampled a few from these cooler regions, but I find that the Oz style prevails throughout - with some significant deviations (we can get into that later; I will have to scoop up more Oz wine to refresh the taste buds).  And I agree that Barossa is passe in the sense of having become a buzz word for value and quality, but real goodness is to be had here as well.  If what you say is to "break out" - I'm trying to do that all the time, but my drinking time is like life, somewhat limited.  

If I get out to Oz in the next year or so, I will be taking a couple of weeks for the pure joy of more closely scrutinizing the wine regions of Victoria, NSW and South Australia (and with luck, some in Tasmania as well). 

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