Wine: Shiraz the in thing

Stock image.
Stock image.

Rob Palandri was raised in Margaret River and has been involved in the wine industry as a producer, wine bar owner, agent, drinker and reviewer of 1000s of wines.

The American’s have a disarming expression as they look at you quizzically then they say “Here’s the thing”.

The “thing” can be anything – a hamburger, a laptop, a bottle of wine.

It’s a way of giving the customer an informed opinion that seals the deal.

In Australia the in “thing” in the wine world is Shiraz. Along with France we make the best Shiraz in both hemispheres.

We cannot claim to be its parents, who are rightfully the French and specifically from the southeast of France, that majestic area where the Rhone River runs along the Rhone Valley.

This late ripening variety travelled from the Rhone Valley to Australia with James Busby in the mid 1830s to its new home.

He founded viticulture in another valley – the Hunter.

Since then the Shiraz grapes have travelled all over Australia to another 24 grapegrowing regions, such is its adaptability and friendliness to our warm summer climate.

No other grape is as synonomous with Australian wine as Shiraz.

It’s the largest planted variety making up 25 per cent of all wine grapes in our country.

It includes Australia’s most famous wine, Grange, and it’s capable of making wine that varies from gulpable BBQ wine to seriously structured cellaring classics.

For many international wine drinkers, Barossa really means Shiraz and this is what many red drinkers default to when selecting a bottle of red wine.

But here’s the thing – the Shiraz grape can wear many suits to show itself off. Depending where it’s grown, and Shiraz enjoys summer warmth, its birthplace reveals many layers of flavours.

In the most traditional corner we have the warm region grapes – big, rich, fat, jammy and plum characters, often 14-15 per cent plus alcohol.

This is generally the domain of the Barossan and McLaren Vale wine guys and new winemaking dudes that make this much-loved style.

Some of the Shiraz coming from small very old vineyards in these regions is sustainably farmed and are from the oldest Shiraz vines in the world.

In the Barossa and McLaren Vale, we now have 25 precise compass points to visit on Google Maps that makes good to great Shiraz.

The thing with Shiraz is its engagement with us and the entertainment in the smells and scope of arresting flavours.

Here are three wines from three of the 25 regions that grow Shiraz.

They range from lighter red hue to opaque colour, lighter bodied to heavy bodied, restrained mouth feel to powerful all-encompassing dominance and from $15 to $30.

The scores are a guide.

2015 Houghton Crofter’s Shiraz

(Frankland River WA)

Look at the colour: really dark red berry hues, so visual.

The smell (bouquet) has an immediate fragrance of a red jube confectionery shop mingled with the red and dark berry smells of fruits at the fruit shop; so inviting and fresh.

This carries smoothly through on to the palate.

Medium-bodied, round, smooth, lovely balance, nothing out of place.

Quite intense finish, a touch short but this is a well-made commercial style Shiraz that is so enjoyable and drinkable with any lamb or beef winter dish.

(89/100, 16.5 points and readily available)

2014 Warner Glen Shiraz

(Margaret River WA)

The colour here shows an almost purple hue, really lovely.

This dark hue carries on to the smells which are right on cue of very dark fruits, blackberry, black plum and faint hints of liquorice and dusty wood oak.

In the mouth, a complex, quite intense sweet berries core that spreads seamlessly.

Great balance of softish tannin grip, fine acidity and fruit sweetness.

Good long finish.

Enjoy with any slow cooked meats.

(91/100, 17 points)

$20

Available at Liquor Barons Swanbourne, Bayswater, Wembley Downs, East Fremantle, D’Vine Cellars, La Vigna

2016 Seppeltsfield Shiraz

(Barossa Valley SA)

The Barossa Valley is the classic Shiraz flavour barometer of Australia.

Amazing purple black opaque colour right to the wine edge gives a window to what you are about to taste.

Complex savoury bouquet blended with oak, black cherry, slight liquorice and fruitcake.

The palate is thick; cut it with a knife, fat, rich, full with warm alcoholic sensations.

Firm tannins and a long chunky finish needing some BBQ grilled fresh spicy sausages.

Needs time, decanting.

(90/100, 16.75 points)

$29.50

Available at Liquor Barons Swanbourne and Marmion, Re Store, Grand Cru