Australian Wine, McLaren Vale, Barossa, and Shiraz

The Australian wine industry has proven well with great results and expanded incredibly over the past 20 years – when there were a little over 300 wineries – to today, with over 1,600 wineries, and rising. Wine exports also exceed domestic sales in size, including individual little wineries doing their own thing and exporting, as well as the major brands. I know some small wineries basically unknown to Australians, and just export to major restaurants/wine merchants overseas to big places, without having enough to even supply local demand.

We have great soil/terroir to grow vines in, good varying climate (although not sure about the future with ‘climate change’) and moisture in chosen areas. We also have individuals that are not often in it for the money or profit, but for the passion, and some who just Love trying new things with wine and winemaking. We embrace change well and explore new regions for winegrowing. We Love experimenting with different altitudes, and planting a foreign grapevine and seeing what happens. This creates a great opportunity for those passionate about wine/winemaking to play in their playground, whether in a new age or traditional way. We also don’t have strict government regulations on how we make our wine, or being able to make wine in the first place (as far as I know?).

Anyway, so I’d just like to make a quick note about one of Australia’s most well known grape varieties, SHIRAZ! Or Syrah. (replace the y with an a = Sarah 🙂 )

I remember the first time I really enjoyed wine (Red of course) with my father at about 13 yrs old (was only drinking little amounts). It was a Tatachilla Shiraz, normal $20 table wine, and the way it felt so plush and warming – I thought this Tatachilla Shiraz from McLaren Vale was the ONLY delicious wine in the world!! And Nothing else (until a while later). I had tried Dad’s wine a number of times previously, as I wanted to see why he drank a glass every night, but finally one night something clicked and I suddenly got this deep excitement and enjoyment while tasting this wine. I got my first experience of the World of Wine… Anyway, so a little of what I know and love about Shiraz:

Australia has one of the world’s largest plantings of Shiraz grapes, in particular, South Australia is most well known for Shiraz plantings, and more specifically, McLaren Vale and Barossa (followed by Coonawarra, I reckon). In case you haven’t heard, “You can’t go wrong with McLaren Vale”… Which is true I believe, unless you get one too young and the acid’s still too strong and tarty – that’s just young wine. But even with as little as 3 years, you can get a good Shiraz from certain regions, eg. McLaren Vale, and Shiraz also grows well in several different climates which is useful. McLaren Vale and Barossa get enough sun to produce beautiful sun-ripened flavour, and a lot of their wines have generous oak support. The fruit component of the palate seems to come out very well, and balanced with good and not grainy, oak. This results in good flavour, density (body) and length that can be enjoyed by many red winos. Yes, I think the length of the palate shows some real quality of the wine – the finishing touch. So, Australia has a pretty good wine history, and I do love our infamous McLaren Vale, Barossa, and Shiraz. Just a quick mention, Langhorne Creek is pretty good at getting that fruit and oak balance. Many Cab Sauv/Shiraz blends source from Langhorne Creek to add that well-rounded character. Of course what I’ve just said is a tiny, narrow part of Aussie wine, but find yourself a good 8-10 year old Shiraz from Barossa or McLaren Vale and you will see the importance.

A few good Shiraz drops:
– Tatachilla Shiraz, McLaren Vale – pretty good table wine, especially 4-5 years after vintage year.
– D’Arenburg Shiraz, McLaren Vale – sensational wines, such as The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viogner, and especially their upmarket wines such as Dead Arm Shiraz and Ironstone Pressings GSM.
– Wirra Wirra Shiraz, McLaren Vale. Reasonably good value, especially if you forget about it for at least a year after purchasing.
– Chapel Hill Shiraz, McLaren. Also their icon wine The Vicar, McLaren.
– Mitolo Shiraz range, McLaren Vale – always enjoyed their wines, such as GAM Shiraz.
– Penfolds BIN 138 GSM Blend, Barossa.
– Elderton Shiraz, Barossa – always a nice balance with their Command Single Vineyard Shiraz, and their normal Barossa Shiraz is reasonable.
– Pepperjack Shiraz, Barossa – nice velvety tannins and length (be aware not to get one too young).
– Yalumba Shiraz, Barossa – Sometimes come out with some knockout great value wines. Just keep your ears open for wine news…


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