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Showing posts with label Shiraz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shiraz. Show all posts

20 January 2021

Red & rosé wines of trying times

Whereas the fifty-odd 'white wines of the cosmos' in my previous feature were arranged by store, these forty red and rosé tips have been grouped by good old-fashioned grape variety (or combinations of). Once again, no apologies offered for, this time, an irrational amount of Grenache, including GSM (Grenache / Garnacha, Shiraz / Syrah and Mourvèdre blends), as well as Pinot Noir...

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)...

11 March 2017

Syrah-Shiraz 'wines of the moment'

Just to add a little substance and data to the usual geeky tasting notes accompanying a few recommended wines made from Syrah-Shiraz, let's start by confirming that the two myths about where the name Shiraz or Syrah came from are indeed just that. This grape variety apparently didn't come from the ancient city of Shiraz in Persia, now Iran, or from Syracuse in Sicily.

07 August 2016

Australia: 2005 vintage Semillon vs Shiraz

According to well-known Aus wine writer and critic James Halliday's site winecompanion.com.au, 2005 was a very good vintage for both white wines in the Hunter Valley and red wines in McLaren. Rare too to find 10+ year-old Australian wines beyond the winery's own museum stock, so it's good to see that it's possible for us to get a taste of what 'proper' Aus wine can be like over here as well.

McWilliam's Mount Pleasant Elizabeth Semillon 2005 Hunter Valley (12% abv) - I've bought this wine for tastings a few times now and it certainly always gets a strong reaction, good or bad! Distinctly quirky, unoaked bottled-aged Aus classic style dry white, with strangely toasty oily notes (considering there's no wood involved in the winemaking) and rich nutty flavours, underlined by surprisingly fresh acidity / elegant 'greener' fruit tones. Winemark £10.29; Tesco used to list it too so you might still find the odd bottle lurking around. You can't buy good ten year-old white Burgundy for a tenner!

Songlines Shiraz 2005 McLaren Vale (14.5% abv) - Sourced from 'selected 40 to 110 year-old vines with low yields, hand pruned and picked.' Dense purple/black/brown colour shading, seductive old Northern Rhone style nose mixing white pepper and wild mint with sweet dark fruit and liquorice with savoury leather notes; still punchy on the palate with concentrated lush mouth-feel, meat gravy vs chocolate truffle and sweet plum flavours (!), a little tannin still and overall luscious texture. Delicious mature red although at its peak I'd say; not very 'Aus', in the popular perception, but that was probably the idea. Exel Wines: £22 on offer.

10 July 2016

Chile: Syrah, Pinot Noir and other 'wines of the moment'

Misty Valle de Limarí from www.winesofchile.org


Casa Marín Lo Abarca Riesling 2015, San Antonio Valley (12.5% abv) - Delicate floral style with 'mineral' notes and subtle crisp white peach fruit. £10 Marks & Spencer.
Cono Sur Riesling Reserva Especial 2015, Bio Bio Valley (13.5% abv) - Oilier fuller style with more ripe lime vs zesty 'chalky' undertones, fair depth and class too. £9-£10 Tesco.

23 June 2015

South African Shiraz update: Cloof

Following on from my recent piece on South Africa: Pinotage & Shiraz / Syrah, I've added two more tasty Shirazes ("sexy" even...) to this and featured them below as well, which are definitely worth throwing out there into the digital wine sphere (they've been winning a few medals recently too: find out more on their site). Both come from Cloof Wine Estate in the Darling region (about an hour or so north of Cape Town) and are 2012 vintage: 'The Very Sexy' Shiraz and Cloof Shiraz. Click on the highlighted link at the top to read the original post. These reds were both aged for 15 months in barrel with more new oak used for the second one, which is also only made from selected bush vine fruit with much lower yields. UK importer: Berkmann Wine Cellars, Cloof Wines UK; online: SA Wines Online, Wines U Like, All about Wine (£ prices stated). O'Brien's in Ireland (€) and many other international distributors (see site as linked above).

2012 Cloof 'The Very Sexy' Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Attractive style, deep purple black, nice peppery black fruit nose with earthy gamey edges even and a hint of coconut oak, quite punchy and spicy mouth-feel, ripe and rounded with light coco texture vs a tad of dry grip, enticing lingering ripe vs savoury fruit with some freshness too. Next day: more savoury and peppery with roast red pepper tones vs fairly rich dark olive vs blackberry and meaty edges. Drinking nicely now although there's no hurry. R75, £12-£13, €15.49.

2012 Cloof Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Apparently there's more oak on this wine but it doesn't really taste of it apart from a background note/texture. Nice wild herby/minty aromas with dark berry, cassis and cherry and liquorice vs savoury tones too; rounded and powerful with attractive tannins vs sweet fruit, roasted red pepper and meaty undertones, light bitter twist and grip on the finish vs a bit of punch and sweet/savoury flavours. Next day: meatier, mintier and spicier and a tad oakier wierdly (?) with that funky roasted red pepper vs cocoa/mocha notes too, sweet dark fruit vs firm and punchy vs rounded and textured, pretty concentrated as well with that light bitter twist adding a bit of edge. R120, £35?

02 June 2015

South Africa: Pinotage & Shiraz / Syrah

Traditional vs new South Africa perhaps? Maybe not: I was at least curious to 'revisit' the sometimes unloved Pinotage variety and see how the wines have changed over the past few years. And likewise, although hardly ever unloved, for Syrah or Shiraz (seems to depend on whether the producer feels they're aiming for a French or New World style, or their marketing angle), which is a relative newcomer to South Africa and, going back in time a little, sometimes ended up as rather clunky overblown reds. So, the big "42"? Well, it's not hard to find good wines made from either, or a mix of the two even. Here are 30-odd that did it for me - some of them are pricey though by the way - mostly varietal Pinotage or Shiraz with a few blends of the two or other combos.

2012 Spice Route Pinotage Swartland - smoky nose with coconut edges, lots of spicy fruit and oomph with subtle oak backdrop on the palate, firm mouth-feel but not over-extracted. Good mouthful of flavour although should be for £11.49-£12. Vineyards Direct, SA Wines Online, Lea & Sandeman.
2009 Spice Route Terra de Bron Syrah Swartland - quite concentrated with perfumed sweet berry fruit, turning savoury vs still firm on the finish with attractive ripe fruit. Good Rhone-y style, expensive though: £18-£19. SA Wines Online
2010 Glenelly Syrah Stellenbosch - vibrant and spicy with white pepper tones, punchy and concentrated palate with alluring minty side too, dry yet nicely textured tannins. £12 Tesco.com Wine Direct.
2011 Ernie Els Proprietor's Syrah Helderberg (+5% Viognier) - fairly tightly structured wine, spicy blackberry fruit develops vs again well-done tannins. Still a tad young really with promise. $27-$40 Wine.com, Cape Ardor. £21.75-£22.50 SA Wines Online, Wine Direct.
2010 Rustenberg Buzzard Kloof Syrah Stellenbosch - fairly rich and concentrated with more coconut oak, quite austere big Northern Rhone style perhaps needing even more time in bottle... £16.69 SA Wines Online, £15.70 (casex12) Wine Down.
2011 Kaapzicht Pinotage Stellenbosch - quite concentrated with peppery cranberry and red pepper notes vs a darker smokier side, tight and firm mouth-feel vs stylish spicy/sweet/savoury combo finish. £14.69 SA Wines Online, Tanners.
2010 Kaapzicht Estate Pinotage (barrel selection) - more obvious oak but it's richer and more concentrated, showing enticing sweet/savoury development, punchy and spicy vs nice lingering maturing fruit. Yum - typically it's their dearest one: £27.99 Virgin Wines.
2013 Darling Cellars Black Granite bush vine Shiraz Coastal Region - spicy minty style with ripe berry fruits, quite soft and juicy vs punchy finish. Attractive now. £8.50 Amazon (case x 3), Wine Down £7.99 (case x 12).
2013 Darling Cellars Chocoholic Pinotage Coastal Region ('Ripasso' style with some dried grapes) - lush and smoky vs peppery and herby, big solid finish layered with chunky sweet fruit. £8.95-£10.99 The Drinks Shop, Great Grog, Oxford Wine Co., Paul Roberts Wines, Tesco.com, Harvey Nichols.
2012 Baker Station Reserve Shiraz Franschhoek Cellars - fairly rich and spicy with light coconut grain, firm 'chalky' tannins plus a bit of weight and roundness, drier on the finish. £7.49-£8.95 Fine Wines Direct, Village Wines, Corks Out, SA Wines Online.
2013 Rib Shack Red 'Extra Smooth' Pinotage/Shiraz Douglas Green - spicy berry and smoked red pepper then juicy and fairly soft palate, nice 'commercial' style. c. $10 widely available in the US; £7.39-£7.99 Amazon (case x 3), SA Wines Online.
2014 Douglas Green Pinotage - spicy smoky roasted red pepper notes mingle with peppery berries, again quite soft and juicy mouth-feel. £6.59 SA Wines Online.
2012 Bellingham Basket Press Syrah Stellenbosch (+ a splash of Viognier) - a touch of coconut grain with spicy berries, quite elegant and tight actually with subtle long finish. £11.60 Amazon (case x 3), £11.79 SA Wines Online.
2012 Boschendal Bush Vine Pinotage Stellenbosch/Darling (25+ year-old vines) - concentrated spicy berry, again tightly structured and quite elegant vs big and punchy, still needs some time in bottle but impressive. About £15.
2013 Brampton Estate Pinotage - spicy berry on the nose with roast red peppers, juicy vs grippy palate, attractive style.
2012 Brampton Estate Shiraz - peppery blackberry notes, then tight and 'chalky' tannins with nice combo of almost crunchy vs sweeter fruit, promising. £10.19 SA Wines Online.
2012 Welgemeend Amadé Grenache Syrah Pinotage Paarl - earthy and peppery, quite restrained and firm on the palate vs nice sweet berry and spice, fairly tightly structured 'Euro' style.
2012 Doolhof Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage Wellington - toasty roasted red pepper plus a smoky darker side, coffee and dark chocolate too, quite soft and silky though with tasty savoury flavours as well. £10+ UK, about $20 in the US.
2010 Major's Hill Pinotage Robertson - smoky roast red pepper and spice vs maturing savoury notes and a touch of coconut grain, fairly full and punchy on its lightly grippy finish. €17-€18 Searsons Wine Merchants, Baggot Street Wines (Dublin). £18.90 Catchpole Cellars.
2013 Lutzville Ebenhaeser Pinotage/Shiraz Oliphants - quite intense and spicy with firm tannins vs vibrant berry fruits and coffee vs roasted red pepper finish.
2012 Lutzville Pinotage François Le Vaillant - touch of coconut spice and grain vs fairly concentrated palate with spicy berry fruits, grippy but nice tannins with attractive savoury vs spicy combo finish. Good.
2014 Lutzville Shiraz - lively blackberry with blackcurrant too, juicy with a touch of grip then nice punchy peppery finish.
2012 Oak Valley Shiraz Elgin - coffee and mocha tones with spicy red peppery edges, lively and juicy palate with structured vs softer mix, smoky 'cooler' style.
2012 Ormonde Chip off the Old Block Shiraz Darling - intense mint/eucalyptus edges vs smoky dark berry fruit, quite concentrated and chunky/grippy vs attractive sweet/savoury fruit on the finish. Good stuff.
2012 Balance Pinotage Western Cape (mostly Swartland) - spicy nose with coffee vs red pepper, lively smoky berry fruit, soft-ish tannins with a little depth and grip to finish.
2010 Somerbosch Shiraz Stellenbosch - maturing savoury vs minty spicy nose, some firmness on the palate still vs nice maturing fruit with spicy berry and coffee tones, drinking well now.
2013 Cavalli Cheval d'Or Black Beauty Shiraz Western Cape - mocha vs roasted red pepper notes, peppery blackberry too with smoky savoury hints then lively finish with light grip. £10 Hard to Find Wines.
2012 Saronsberg Shiraz Tulbagh - coconut oak touches, fairly concentrated though with nice texture, still quite structured with peppery berry finish, needs a few more months/years to round out. £20 Adnams.
2011 Post House Missing Virgin (70% Pinotage 30% Petit Verdot, 15.5% abv) - lush and dark with a touch of oak vs attractive savoury side, chunky firm tannins vs rich and concentrated with gutsy finish for sure. Irony. About $30 in US, Classic Drinks in Ireland.
2012 Cloof 'The Very Sexy' Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Attractive style, deep purple black, nice peppery black fruit nose with earthy gamey edges even and a hint of coconut oak, quite punchy and spicy mouth-feel, ripe and rounded with light coco texture vs a tad of dry grip, enticing lingering ripe vs savoury fruit with some freshness too. Next day: more savoury and peppery with roast red pepper tones vs fairly rich dark olive vs blackberry and meaty edges. Drinking nicely now although there's no hurry. R75, £12-£13, €15.49.
2012 Cloof Shiraz Darling (14.5% abv) - Apparently there's more oak on this wine but it doesn't really taste of it apart from a background note/texture. Nice wild herby/minty aromas with dark berry, cassis and cherry and liquorice vs savoury tones too; rounded and powerful with attractive tannins vs sweet fruit, roasted red pepper and meaty undertones, light bitter twist and grip on the finish vs a bit of punch and sweet/savoury flavours. Next day: meatier, mintier and spicier and a tad oakier wierdly (?) with that funky roasted red pepper vs cocoa/mocha notes too, sweet dark fruit vs firm and punchy vs rounded and textured, pretty concentrated as well with that light bitter twist adding a bit of edge. R120, £35?
The two reds above were both aged for 15 months in barrel with more new oak used for the second one, which is also only made from selected bush vine fruit with much lower yields. UK importer: Berkmann Wine Cellars, Cloof Wines UK; online: SA Wines Online, Wines U Like, All about Wine (£ prices stated). O'Brien's in Ireland (€) and many other international distributors.

21 December 2013

Spain v Australia: festive sweeties and reds, with or without chocolate

Well, not exactly one against the other, but a way of introducing five very different wines from these two diverse wine-lands ranging from essentially dry red to sweeter to very very sweet, started as white ended up brownish. First off, an aged dry red from Penfolds, the 2006 vintage of their Bin 28 Shiraz (about £14 in the UK). This was one of a few stars sampled with different types of chocolate at a recent Northern Ireland Wine & Spirit Institute 'wine with chocolate' tasting, with Deirdre McCanny of Belfast chocolatier Co Couture (a tad more about chocolate making etc. follows the wine blurb). This particular Penfold's 'Bin number' has been going since 1959 apparently, and the 2006 wasn't really showing its age that much. Powerful spicy nose with eucalyptus tones even, sweet blackberry and maturing savoury notes, has a fair kick still vs attractive spice and richness vs meaty flavours and softening tannins. Nice with the 'plain' Madagascan chocolate and the 'smoked sea salt' flavoured one even (read on...); or have with the usual red meat suspects I'd imagine.

Moving on to the Rutherglen region in north-eastern Victoria, which is famous for producing one-off sweet Madeirized style wines - deliberately oxidized by a special maturation process - fortified with alcohol (like Port and Sherry) and keeping hold of a large dose of natural sugar. Two different types are mentioned here, a 'Tawny' (the Portuguese won't like that) and a Muscat. Jen Pfeiffer is one of Naked Wines' bespoke winemakers, who's come up with a quirky little number called The Diamond 10 Year Old Rutherglen Tawny (19.8% abv). This showed cooked raisins and pecan nut on the nose, caramel fudge and toffee, oxidized Madeira notes but redder fruit, tangy toasted nuts vs sweet raisins vs punchy alcohol; quite balanced in the end despite all that going on (for a long time). £11.99 'Angel' price, £15.99 'normal' (more about their pricing here). I tasted this one at home recently (still am, a couple of mouthfuls at a time is enough, and it keeps for weeks) rather than at that choco event; try it with a selection of cheeses or mince pies.
Campbell's is a name almost synonymous with this particular style of sticky fortified wine, especially their legendary Rutherglen Muscat (17.5% abv - £13.99 Direct Wine Shipments and generally available in many specialist shops). Probably even sweeter than the tawny, with around 190 grams per litre residual sugar, this had a full-on cooked sultana and marmalade nose, very sweet and lush palate with treacly vs aromatic fruity flavours, the Muscat character does come through all that in the end lending a fruitier, dare I say 'fresher' side. The chilli chocolate worked well giving it a bit of bite; and similarly, the ginger choc also fought back! Was a bit weird with the sea salt one though.
Carrying on with the intense sticky theme, Sherry country in southwestern Spain is responsible for a variety of tasty styles of this fortified aged wine, from very dry (Fino, Manzanilla) to super sweet, such as Gonzalez Byass' extraordinary Matusalem (20.5% abv). Their press blurb describes it thus: "Matusalem is a premium cream sherry aged for 30 years in the Gonzalez Byass bodega in Jerez, Andalucia. Fine Oloroso sherry is blended with Pedro Ximenez (that's a variety not some bloke who works there, whose bunches are dried out lying on mats after picking, massively concentrating the natural sugar) and aged in American oak barrels where the flavours and aromas concentrate."
This is what I scribbled down after trying it a few times at home over a period of days with and without food (makes a nice dessert just on its own, or with dried fruit and nuts perhaps) - again good with mince pies, could be a substantial match for Christmas pudding or smooths the edges on blue and hard mature cheeses; and what about pouring some over vanilla ice cream too? Powerful 'volatile' Madeirized nose with cooked/oxidized and really toasted walnuts and molasses tinged with an almost extremely reduced wine/meat gravy edge! Caramelized soy sauce too vs mega dried fruit sultana/raisin cocktail, huge palate with the same array of flavours plus very nutty sweet walnut/pecan, nice kick/bite cuts through it a little, very intense tangy vs sweet finish. Wow, extreme wine or what. Tastes the same a few days later, another one that will keep for a week or three probably. Luckily comes in half-bottles - £19.99 from Ocado, Waitrose, Tesco, Majestic, Fortnum and Mason, Harvey Nichols, Cambridge Wines and other independents and sherry specialists.
Staying in Spain, I'll come back to an unusual slightly sweet Merlot from Priorat, found down the coast from Barcelona and inland a little on the hills, made by Joseph Puig called Dolc de Lluna 2006 (15% abv, £22.50 DWS). Nicely wacky mix of maturing meaty leather notes and dark vs savoury fruit, had a bit of grip still vs rounded mouth-feel with some sweetness and kick. Different for a Merlot. Again stood up well to the stronger flavoured chocolates even, ginger and chilli, as well as a nice match with the 'plain'.

Talking of that Co Couture chocolate, it seems like a good way of ending this post with a few facts and figures about making fine chocolate gleaned from Deirdre's introduction (hopefully accurate, as it was all scribbled down in a hurry). Cocoa beans are bigger than I'd imagined, although shrink when roasted turning them brown too, as are the pods, which resemble elongated coconut shells without the hair crossed with a shrivelled melon! There are three different varieties used for making choco: forastero, the biggest pod mainly grown in western Africa; Trinitario, a hybrid of the latter and Criollo that's smaller with rounder ends and more susceptible to weather and disease. Criollo is considered the finest, and there's a resurgence in growing this one, Deirdre said, although it's difficult to grow. There's no sugar in the beans but is in the pulp around them, so they're fermented together imparting more flavour into the beans. These are then dried and roasted.
We tasted three pieces of raw beans, all different with bitter vs sweet profile. It should have intensity and tannins but not particularly bitter; if a bean tastes heavily roasted, it means it's poor quality. The final roasted bean is about 50-50 cocoa solids and cocoa butter, which is pressed and separated. The butter is a fat, which does smell like cocoa-infused butter and melts in your hand. For dark choco, they then take 70% cocoa solids (any fine chocolate should be minimum 70%) and add 30% cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla (best fresh). There shouldn't be any other kind of fat, although you can add the useful soya lecithin nowadays. For milk chocolate, you need the cocoa solids blended with milk powder then the rest of the ingredients as above. And white chocolate is just cocoa butter and the rest without the cocoa solids. The solids are first refined to make a smooth paste with no particles. Typically, the darker the colour, the higher the amount of solids although this isn't always the case, e.g. from Madagascar, which can have lovely reddy brown hues.
Rubbing your thumb on the back of the chocolate helps release the aromas. Snap it - a nice 'clean' snap means it's high in cocoa butter. Let it melt in your mouth on your tongue to get more of the flavours. We tried four different types with various origins and styles, although it's not totally clear from my notes what they were each called, so I'll just say I was surprised how different they all looked and tasted (they were all 70% dark), and no real bitterness there either. There are essentially two production styles though, French and Belgian/Swiss (plus everyone else). The French like to taste the chocolate and use less sugar and more butter (better for cooking chocolate too for melting) than the Belgian/Swiss makers.

And have a look at part 2 of sweet wines and chocolate here (links to it, with a touch of Maury and Banyuls), plus more southern French 'reds of the mo' that have come my way from the Roussillon, Languedoc and St-Chinian in particular...

20 September 2012

Australia: Grenache and 'Med reds'

Turkey Flat Grenache
from  turkeyflat.com.au
Friday 21 September is International Grenache Day, so here's my special topical report!
Besides straight Shiraz (click there to browse recent post immediately below this one), or sometimes blended with a small dollop of Viognier, there's also an exciting, and logical, trend in Australia towards making 'Rhone' or 'Mediterranean' style red varietals and cocktails, with increasing interest in planting more e.g. Spanish, Italian and Portuguese varieties in certain hot regions. This isn't totally new of course, given that there are a few plots of 100+ year-old Shiraz and Grenache still standing and producing in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale (see wines below e.g. d'Arenberg and click here to read about that in my Aus Grenache report last year). What I call Mediterranean varietals and blends, for the sake of argument and in addition to Grenache and Shiraz/Syrah, includes Mourvèdre aka Mataro or Monastrell, which some winemakers are really getting to grips with, on its own or in a mix with S and G. While other wineries are experimenting further with Spanish grapes such as Tempranillo, or Italian imports like SangioveseI've also thrown in a delicious Port style fortified wine from Grant Burge, which does fit neatly into my hot Med/Rhone red category being unashamedly GMS, even if it's nothing like the others... Retail prices are for Ireland in euros; many of them will be available in the UK, North America etc.

Barossa Valley

Yalumba 2009 Bush Vine Grenache - enticing ripe liquorice tinged nose with peppery edges, quite soft mouth-feel with savoury vs 'sweet' fruit, dry tannins and a bit of kick on the finish but it doesn't really show up. €18-€20
Two Hands Wines 2010 Yesterday's Hero Grenache - herby berry vs spicy/sweet liquorice aromas, tasty juicy fruity palate with power and grip; delicious stuff. €30
Turkey Flat 2009 Grenache - savoury and leather tones vs 'sweet' liquorice and spice, concentrated and weighty with nice grip, meaty vs ripe flavours, rich vs dry finish. +€20
Two Hands Wines 2010 Brave Faces Grenache Shiraz Mataro - attractive 'sweet' berry fruit, spicy and soft with punchy length, dry vs ripe lingering flavours. €27
Turkey Flat 2010 Butcher's Block Red (Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre, 14.5% alc) - subtle oak layered with lovely ripe blackberry/cherry fruit and savoury black olive notes too, soft and juicy mouth-feel then finishing firmer and punchy, bitter twist vs 'sweet'/savoury flavours; different. €15-€18
Turkey Flat 2007 Mourvèdre - browning colour with meaty wild black olive hints, powerful and chunky mouth-feel vs concentrated and lush, attractive herby bitter twist too; old-fashioned 'Bandol' style! +€20
Grant Burge 10 Year Old Tawny (Grenache Mourvèdre Shiraz, 19% alc) - complex Port (or 'red Madeira' even!) style with dried berry and caramel aromas, oily maturing nutty flavours vs sweet dried fruits vs punchy finish. Lovely fortified wine. €20+ 
John Duval 2006 'Plexus' Shiraz Grenache Mourvèdre - minty vs savoury nose, mature vs solid palate, still quite tight vs smoky flavoured on the finish; fairly understated actually. €20+

McLaren Vale

d'Arenberg 2009 Stump Jump GSM - smoky savoury nose, chunky yet mature palate, oxidising a bit vs some oomph left on the finish. €10-€12
d'Arenberg 2007 d'Arry's Original GSM - mature nose with 'tar' and leather tones, savoury vs lush dark berry and spice flavours, concentrated chunky grippy finish; lovely wilder style with power vs enticing maturing savoury side. €18-€20

Willunga 100 2010 Grenache - a bit 'reductive' on the nose, moves on to juicy 'sweet' liquorice fruit vs dry grip, dark peppery and lush with bitter chocolate twist, taut and firm finish; needs time to open up. €12-€15


Brown Brothers 2010 Dolcetto & Syrah (10% alc) - perfumed 'Nouveau' nose with cherry and cassis fruit, lightly frothy 'frizzante' style with a bit of sugar and lively cherry finish; refreshingly different! €10-€12
Brown Brothers 2010 Tempranillo (14.5%) - slightly earthy nose, perfumed and creamy red and black fruit palate, turning more 'sweet/savoury' with firm and dry vs drinking well finish. Nice 'Med' style. €10-€12

Western Australia - Margaret River

McHenry Hohnen 2007 Three Amigos red (SGM) - smoky meaty developed nose vs ripe berry and cinnamon, has a bit of oomph and subtle concentration vs soft tannins and enticing maturing 'sweet/savoury' fruit finish. Good stuff. €20+

Australia: Shiraz

Australia already has a strong following for its Shiraz/Syrah, and Aus winemakers are now gearing up for the challenge of promoting all their different regional styles better. While there's something endlessly thrilling about those classic rich meaty Shirazes from say the Barossa Valley (e.g. see St. Hallett, Two Hands Wines, Yalumba, Peter Lehmann below) or McLaren Vale (Chateau Reynella, d'Arenberg, Mitolo, Wirra Wirra), there are also plenty of the more restrained 'peppery' styles around from Australia's 'cooler' climate regions. These are sometimes blended with a splash of the aromatic white variety Viognier, following a rather trendy fashion (and it's good when it works) to mimic certain traditional Northern Rhone reds. Areas and wineries to look out for include Yarra Valley (Innocent Bystander, De Bortoli) and Heathcote (Greenstone) in Victoria, Adelaide Hills (Shaw & Smith), and Mount Barker (Plantagenet) and Frankland River (Ferngrove) in Western Australia.
At a monster Aus tasting in Dublin a few months ago, I was quite taken by a relatively new winery called Two Hands Wines - to me at least, they've been around since 1999 founded by Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz in Barossa Valley and are mad on "small-batch" Shiraz based reds sourced from a few different regions (distributed in Ireland by the Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines on the Green, Dublin). Other names, besides the ones already mentioned above and better-known brands (nothing wrong with that, as you'll see from my notes) that stood out include Turkey Flat, also in Barossa, with their SGM wines (Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvèdre)... And going back to those famous names, this show was a great opportunity to taste some top Aus reds with a bit of aged character behind them, including a couple of ten year-old Lehmann Shirazes which were sitting well pretty.
All the wines mulled over below are 100% Shiraz (so I haven't bothered saying so) or, where stated, majority Shiraz with e.g. Viognier (so I did bother...). Shiraz - Grenache - Mourvèdre type reds, and other 'Med red' varietals or cocktails, are featured in another post above... Retail prices are for Ireland in euros; many of them will be available in the UK, North America, the Far East etc.

South Australia

Yalumba 2010 Organic - herbal black cherry notes, quite grippy and punchy vs nice youthful fruit, more 'European' in style. €12-€15
Thorn Clarke 2010 Milton Park - lively youthful peppery black cherry fruit, firm vs rounded backdrop; tasty drink-now style. €12-€15

Grant Burge 2010 GB - minty cassis and dark blackberry fruit with spicy undertones, turning soft and savoury vs still grippy and dry underneath; nice easier style. €10-€12

McLaren Vale
Hardys 2008 Omoo - quite rich and ripe with meaty 'tar' notes vs peppery black fruits, firm and extracted palate layered with lush dark fruit and almost toasty flavours. €15-€18
Hardys Château Reynella 2006 - again has seductive minty vs lush 'tar' and black cherry with meaty edges, tasty concentrated mouth-feel with attractive spicy vs firm texture, long 'sweet' vs savoury finish; still structured vs mature, lovely wine. +€20
Two Hands Wines 2010 Angel's Share - peppery nose with rich dark plum fruit and leather tones, solid grippy and concentrated mouth-feel with tasty dark fruit underneath, lovely style. €25
d'Arenberg 2008 Footbolt - smoky leather and spice aromas, savoury meaty palate vs rich dark berry fruit, power and grip vs maturing 'sweet/savoury' finish; good stuff. €18-€20
d'Arenberg 2008 Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier - smoky intense nose with dark cherry and 'tar' vs more aromatic side, big mouthful again showing lovely mix of dark fruit and savoury maturing flavours; yum. €20+
d'Arenberg 2007 Dead Arm - meaty mature tones vs structured and punchy mouth-feel, quite extracted with gripping texture vs nice savoury fruit; perhaps lacks a bit of depth vs extraction and its reputation. €20+

Willunga 100 2009 Shiraz Viognier - perfumed vibrant nose with blackberry/cherry and cassis, still tight and firm mouth-feel with quite elegant long finish. €12-€15
Mitolo 2009 Jester - vibrant black cherry/berry fruit, punchy palate with nice minty vs savoury profile, firm finish vs 'sweet' and maturing. €20+
Mitolo 2007 Savitar - meatier and more developed, concentrated and extracted with solid structured framework vs dried fruits and 'tar', peppery vs meaty finish; wow. €20+
Mitolo 2007 GAM - less forward, firm and chunky with 'sweet/savoury' fruit, spicy and gutsy with rich maturing flavours; still surprisingly young though for five years old. €20+
Wirra Wirra 2007 Woodhenge - spicy herby nose with black cherry and cassis, a touch of coconut oak on the palate vs lush dark and savoury fruit, tasty long and classy wine. €20+

Barossa Valley
Hardys 2008 Barossa Estate E Minor - seductive savoury vs spicy herby and minty dried black cherry, maturing and quite soft vs still has some dry grip and punch to it, nice tasty 'sweet' vs savoury finish. €15-€18
Yalumba 2008 Patchwork - fairly restrained with a touch of oak grain, firm extracted palate vs lush dark cherry/berry fruit, tight peppery and firm finish; lovely Shiraz. €18-€20
Two Hands Wines 2010 Gnarly Dudes - similar to the Angel's Share with more berry fruit perhaps and attractive savoury notes, tight grippy palate layered with delcious dark fruit, punchy closed up finish. €25
Two Hands Wines 2010 Bella's Garden - quite oaky with grainy coconut tones vs pretty concentrated and extracted, rich vs solid palate with spicy vs savoury fruit, tight structured finish; needs a few years to open up. €49
Turkey Flat 2007 - savoury meaty leather aromas, subtle concentration of lush 'sweet'/savoury fruit vs firm and dry finish; again very attractive maturing style from these guys (see my Grenache et al report coming out soon). +€20
Peter Lehmann 2008 - maturing soft and savoury vs lively peppery black fruits and tasty 'sweet'/savoury flavours, drinking well now. €12-€15
Peter Lehmann 2006 Futures - more structured with coconut grain vs rich black fruits and meaty edges, again has tasty mature flavours vs firmer and bigger finish. €18-€20
Peter Lehmann 2002 Eight Songs - leathery and minty with 'tar' tones, mature soft palate with delicious meaty flavours, sweet and peppery too; still quite grippy on the finish with lingering mature fruit. Lovely. +€20
Peter Lehmann 2002 Stonewell - has similarities to above yet with more herbal berry and cherry fruit style, still alive and firm on the palate vs tasty savoury flavours; delicious and classy. +€20
Thorn Clarke 2010 Shotfire - restrained on the nose, subtle spicy berry notes, tight and concentrated in the mouth, not very expressive at the moment. €20+

St. Hallett 2008 Gamekeepers Reserve - peppery black cherry/berry with gamey edges, maturing oily palate with tasty 'sweet/savoury' finish. €12-€15
St. Hallett 2008 Faith - maturing softening style with leather and spice notes vs lush 'tar' and prune fruit, drinking deliciously now. €15-€18
St. Hallett 2008 Blackwell - similar maturing meaty style yet more textured and structured still, tasty mix of savoury vs dark vs minty flavours on its long finish.
Jacob's Creek 2008 Centenary Hill - attractive 'sweet' fruit with gamey edges and hints of coconut oak, falls a little short perhaps (for the money) but it's a nice style. €20+

Clare Valley
Leasingham 2006 Bin 61 - mature savoury meaty aromas with peppery edges, tasty developed fruit vs still firm and dry, a touch of elegance too even despite that oomph on the finish. €15-€18
Two Hands Wines 2009 Samantha's Garden - more savoury than Bella's vs perfumed and herby tones, spicy and dark vs firm and dry texture, again has a tight long finish; quite fine. €49
Wakefield 2008 80 Acres Shiraz Viognier - savoury edges vs mint and violet, mature leather tinged undertones vs 'sweet' dried fruits vs firm tannins; tasty now.
Wakefield 2009 Estate - peppery with shades of coconut oak and a little savoury development, quite soft and delicate vs lush and meaty vs dry grainy texture. €12-€15
Wakefield 2009 Jaraman - also showing some coconut notes vs subtle depth of peppery black fruits, firm and tight palate with savoury maturing flavours, quite elegant with attractive lingering dry vs 'sweet' profile. €20+

Tim Adams 2008 - quite punchy with savoury maturing fruit vs 'sweet' dried blackberry, nice wine even if beginning to fade a little. €12-€15

Adelaide Hills
Shaw & Smith 2009 - peppery aromas layered with dark fruit, rich and ripe vs meaty and firm, shows fair class with a tight structured and understated finish. €20+

Western Australia

Ferngrove 2008 Frankland River - minty spicy blackberry nose and palate, tighter cooler climate style with peppery firm mouth-feel, quite fine and subtle despite being gutsy too. €12-€15
Plantagenet 2008 Mount Barker - subtle tight and classy wine, hints of pepper and lively berries with meaty/leather edges, still closed up on the finish with fine tannins. €20+


Yarra Valley
De Bortoli 2007 Shiraz Viognier - smoky rustic notes tinged with herby berries and peppery edges, dark fruited lush palate vs firm and chunky with ripe 'sweet/savoury' flavours and notes of 'tar' vs herbal floral berry fruit, attractive maturing fruit on the finish. €20+
Innocent Bystander 2009 Syrah - smoky meaty nose with leather tones, quite firm and extracted although it still tastes young, subtle attractive Euro-leaning style. €15-€18
Innocent Bystander 2010 Mea Culpa - youthful black cherry fruit with firm underbelly, peppery and meaty notes on the finish; again nice 'cooler' climate wine.

Brown Brothers 2009 Limited Release - attractive maturing savoury style vs minty dark cherry fruit, soft vs punchy finish. €15-€18

Riverina (New South Wales)

Deen de Bortoli 2008 Vat 8 - juicy berry fruity style with a smokier side too, ripe 'sweet' fruit vs solid and punchy mouth-feel; simpler but appealing. €12-€15

Canberra District

Clonakilla 2008 O'Riada - minty spicy black cherry aromas and flavours vs dry and firm palate, quite elegant and restrained once again. €20+

21 September 2011

Chile: Syrah / Shiraz

An aloof themed tasting table sat, literally, on a raised stage at the recent Wines of Chile annual London bash, dramatically billed as “Sensational Syrah”; but I think the Haydn-esque fanfare for fab Syrah from Chile is a little premature. Out of nearly 50 wines tasted, I found it quite hard going to find enough star Syrah / Shiraz to warrant this trail-blazing title;


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