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17 December 2017

Shiraz: Australia (and France)

According to Wine Australia, their country boasts around 40,000 hectares of Shiraz - Syrah under vine which means 25% of overall plantings. And here's another fascinating titbit for you: apparently rotundone, a chemical compound found in black pepper among other things is the same one found in Shiraz giving the wines that renowned spicy peppery character, but about 20% of people aren't able to detect and taste it. So now you know. Over to the wines then: discover five very different and worthwhile Shirazes below coming from South Australia, Victoria and Canberra. And a bonus one from the south of France (much better value too)...

Old vine Shiraz in Barossa by Wine Australia.

Rabbit & Spaghetti Shiraz 2015 Adam Barton / Atlas Wines, Clare Valley (14.5% abv) - One of a series of Shirazes (also Barossa, McLaren, Adelaide 'super zone') made for the innovative on-liner Naked Wines 'supporting independent winemakers blah blah', this is a delicious classic mixing ripe dark berry fruit with spice, submerged oak and supple tannin texture finishing with a controlled bit of oomph. £14/£18 UK.

Magpie Estate Tight Cluster Sparkling Shiraz 2012, Barossa - Woah! This one-off oddball sparkling red was made 'still' and oak aged before undergoing 13 months bottle fermentation and lees ageing (adding some fortified Shiraz wine as dosage!). Maturing savoury leather notes mingled with seductive dark chocolate flavours and fizzy of course. Only in Aus. £19.99 Boutinot Wines.

Mount Langi Ghiran Cliff Edge Grampians Shiraz 2014, Victoria - From vineyards planted at 240 metres altitude, these guys have been making consistently exciting Shiraz for years and years. Rich and spicy, concentrated and powerful with lovely tannins, nicely integrated oak combined with lush savoury flavours vs well-balanced grip and punch to finish. Very tasty. £18.49 Bibendum PLB.

Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz 2015, Canberra - Planted at 650 metres on the Great Dividing Range, where I'm told they sometimes have frost problems! Quite oaky to start with minty peppery undertones, savoury meaty characters too with firm and smoky palate nuanced by wild dark berries and violets, grainy yet rounded tannins. Good although fairly expensive: £25 Liberty Wines.

Langmeil Orphan Bank Shiraz 2013, Barossa - The name comes from them shifting old vines from the original vineyard to a new site, which 'mostly worked' apparently. Wow, big Barossa style. Dark and peppery, firm and powerful yet rounded, floral dark berries and chocolate merge with nice meaty notes, concentrated commanding finish. Woof, a classic with lots going on despite its full-on-ness. £44 Robb Brothers.

Wild-card 'Shiraz' from elsewhere:
Castelmaure Corbières 2015, Languedoc. Delicious example, made by the leading, wild middle-of-nowhere co-op winery Cave d'Embres et Castelmaure in conjunction with family mega-group Jeanjean, of the kind of red the French should be getting more of on our shelves. Actually a Syrah, Grenache and Carignan blend (with 14% abv), this deftly mixes up sunny spicy and herby fruit with fairly soft tannins, concentration and nice 'purity' too. £9 Tesco.

Some previous words (this year) on Syrah, Shiraz and Australia:

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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.