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10 Australian Shiraz - and Shiraz blends - that might surprise you
Although there’s still plenty of the rich, lush style of Shiraz we’ve come to associate with Australia there’s more than one style as I discovered on my recent trip. If you like more restrained, even funky syrahs, Australian producers can deliver. Unsurprisingly many of them are organic or biodynamic and made with a minimum of sulphur. Most are from cooler vineyards. Take your pick . . .
Battle of Bosworth Puritan Shiraz 2011 (on UK shelves from March/April. about $20-22 in Australia)
If you’re going to the Bibendum tasting this week you’ll be able to taste this electric young syrah from Joch Bosworth’s (right) organically run vineyard. No oak, no sulphur, designed for early drinking. "We wanted to make a fresh, vibrant Spanish ‘Joven’ style of Shiraz ready for opening and enjoying immediately" he explains. He has.
Bobar Syrah 2009, Yarra Valley. Excel Wines has the 2010 at £120.20 for 6 bottles. £20.25 St. Clair & Galloway Fine Wines, Bognor Regis. £24.99 The Smiling Grape, £28.50 Green & Blue. Australian suppliers are on to the 2011 vintage.
More in the funky natural wine vein this won’t be to everyone’s taste and I suspect will be more susceptible than most to the day on which it’s tasted and the conditions under which it’s been stored and transported. I tasted it at a dinner at the Healesville hotel and it was delicious with a really fresh, mineral, spicy character. Unfined and unfiltered. The current 2011 vintage is only 12.5%
Castagna Adams Rib 2008 Nebbiolo/Shiraz, Beechworth £23.50 St. Clair & Galloway Fine Wines, Caves de Pyrène
I mentioned Julian Castagna’s Genesis Syrah in my Guardian article because that’s the wine that’s most widely available but I also loved this perfumed, supple Nebbiolo blend with its lovely bitter twist - the perfect wine for drinking with Italian-style grills and roasts. There's also a cracking Syrah/Sangiovese called Un Segreto at same price as the Syrah ($75 in Australia)
Clonakilla Hilltops Syrah 2009, Canberra NSW. £14.99 West Mount Wine £18.50 Fortnum & Mason slurp.co.uk has the 2010 at £16.95, $25 in Australia
Not a producer I visited but one of the best examples of new wave Aussie shiraz that you can find on the shelves at a reasonable price though it no longer seems to be available from Waitrose. More in the classic lush style but with real finesse.
Eastern Peake Walsh Block Syrah 2008, Victoria N/A in UK, $35 in Oz
I tasted this at the end of a long wine bar crawl with Max Allen at Gerard’s wine bar in Melbourne so can’t vouch for the accuracy of my tasting notes but remember finding it wonderfully fragrant, spicy and smoky. And delicious with fresh mozzarella and smoked tomatoes.
Jamsheed La Syrah 2010 N/A in UK, $20 in Australia
A bright, breezy young syrah sourced from 4 different vineyards in the Yarra Valley. 50% new oak, unfiltered, unfined “my take on Crozes - a good young quaffing syrah” says winemaker Gary Mills who worked for 2 years for Ridge in California. “A lot of the time we used to mimic South Australian shiraz. The best now comes off cooler sites.”
Ngeringa J.E.Syrah 2009* imported by Caves de Pyrène. £17.25 www.scc-finewines.co.ukaround £106.60 a case of 6 from Excel Wines, around $25 in Australia
Another bright syrah - or ‘bright and chirpy’ as Erinn Klein (right) from this biodynamic producer in the Adelaide Hills puts it. They compare the fruit to Schwetchen plums - I thought the predominant note was black cherry with a good kick of spice. Either way it’s delicious - as is the more expensive Ngeringa Syrah (about £35 here, $50-60 in Australia)
* pronounced neringa
Paxton Quandong Farm Shiraz 2009 McLaren Vale £18.90 Fareham Wine Cellar, £19.99 Cadman Fine Wines, £20.45 Noel Young Wines, £22.95 Jeroboams
I mentioned Paxton’s AAA shiraz/grenache in my Guardian column this week but I really like this scented, floral, almost violetty shiraz too which comes from a single biodynamically farmed vineyard. Shows McLaren Vale fruit can have finesse as well as weight.
Ruggabellus Archaeus 2009, Barossa N/A in UK, 40AD
One of three blends of grenache mataro and shiraz from Eden Valley which were released to rave reviews and sold out within six weeks. A fascinating insight into what young producers in the Barossa are doing - aromatic, spicy and peppery. “We use no new oak and pick early looking for vitality, crunch and intrigue” says winemaker Abel Gibson.
The Yard Riversdale Shiraz 2010 Frankland River, Larry Cherubino. N/A in UK, around $35 in Australia from March
If you want to get an idea of what Western Australia’s Frankland River is capable of look out for this sensuously soft, natural tasting shiraz with a lovely structure that Cherubino suggests drinking with duck, French-style roast lamb or spiced meatballs with rosemary. The secret? "We don’t make shiraz outside the Great Southern - Margaret River is too maritime for shiraz" he claims.
You might also be interested in two other wines I mentioned in my column, First Drop's Mother's Milk Shiraz 2009 (£14.99, The Secret Cellar, Tunbridge Wells; £15.03, The Sampler, London SW7; £15.99, Cambridge Wine Merchants) and Picardy Shiraz (£22, auswineonline.co.uk)
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