Aussie wine trends: 2. Refining Shiraz

16th January, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2

Although less dramatic than Chardonnay’s stylistic swing from broad to bony, Australia’s flagship grape Shiraz has also been losing weight and gaining tone.

ShirazAs wine writer Sarah Ahmed stressed at the UK’s first Shiraz “Landmark Tasting” in December: “Like Chardonnay, the pendulum has swung from ripe, sugary styles to lighter, more elegant ones, but there are some anorexic wines there too.”

Aiding this change has been a move to cooler sites, earlier harvesting as well as increasing the amount of whole bunch fermentation to bring more perfume. Furthermore, similar to the handling of today’s Australian Chardonnays, the amount of new oak is falling for Shiraz, while the size of vessel is increasing.

Highlighting some of the changes taking place, André Bondar at McLaren Vale’s Mitolo says he’s “lightening” his Shiraz using a greater proportion of whole bunch ferments, inspired by experience at Alain Graillot in the Northern Rhône, as well as picking earlier and managing irrigation after veraison to slow ripening.

Others are using techniques more commonly associated with Pinot Noir production when it comes to Shiraz. “We are treating our Shiraz not unlike Pinot Noir,” says Nick Farr, from By Farr in Geelong. “So we’re using open-top fermenters, doing a cold soak and using 20% or less new oak.”

Such changes are driven by a desire, according to Oakridge head winemaker David Bicknell, to make less weighty wines. “We want to make a light, spicy, fragrant medium-bodied red; we’re not looking for hand-to-hand combat.”

As for sources of these new styles, David Gleave MW, managing director of UK importer Liberty Wines, says: “We are seeing cooler climate Shiraz from the Adelaide Hills, Canberra, or parts of Heathcote, which offer less of the rounder sweeter style, although you can still find those wines.”

Shiraz from the Pyrenees also appears to be exciting winemakers, while it’s interesting to note that last year’s prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy was awarded to a Shiraz from Tasmania – Glaetzer Dixon Family’s Mon Père 2010.

An extreme approach is Battle of Bosworth’s Puritan Shiraz from the McLaren Vale, which is effectively a natural wine using organic grapes and no added sulphur, and designed to taste like a Spanish joven-style Tempranillo.

Meanwhile, turning to classic Shiraz growing region the Barossa, Gleave says: “Producers like John Duval or Charles Melton in the Barossa are going for more tannin, but less oak and more elegance, and that’s working for us.”

Continuing he explains, “I remember people saying they were scared of tannins in Australia, but they have overcome that now, they are not scared to make wines with lovely ripe tannins that will age beautifully.”

One Response to “Aussie wine trends: 2. Refining Shiraz”

  1. JT says:

    They are basically learning to do something that the Hunter has been doing for over 100 years. All the people quoted could have just picked up the phone and called some of their industry colleagues up North. Anyway, thank god they are getting away from the over extracted wines that became the norm down South 10-15 years ago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters

Job vacancies

Senior National Account Manager

Bibendum PLB
London, UK

ON-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

OFF-TRADE Sales Executive

Roberson Wine
London, UK

Judging Week Runners

Decanter World Wine Awards
ExCel Centre, London E16, UK

Sales Administrator

Les Caves de Pyrène
Guildford, UK

Retail Commercial Executive

Laithwaite's Wine
Theale, Berkshire

Wine Buyer

Conviviality Plc
Crewe, UK

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
Liverpool

Sales Account Manager - On-Trade

Berkmann Wine Cellars
M3/M4 corridor

Media Sales Manager - Hong Kong

The Drinks Business Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Regional Account Manager

New Generation McKinley
London, UK

Experienced Sales Account Manager – On Trade

Cantina Goccia
London and the south, UK

National Sales Manager – Premium Drinks

Core Recruitment
London based with national travel

The Global Merlot Masters 2017

Deadline : 24th February 2017

The Prosecco Masters 2017

Deadline : 10th March 2017

db Awards 2017

Deadline : 28th April 2017

The Global Organic Masters 2017

Deadline : 3rd March 2017

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters

The Global Rosé Masters 2016

the drinks business is proud to announce the launch of the Global Rosé Masters 2016.

The Prosecco Masters 2016

Now in its third year, the competition will reflect the growth in popularity of this fresh and exciting sparkling wine from the picturesque regions of Veneto and Friuli.

The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2016

After the success of last year’s competition that judged over 250 wines from no less than 16 countries, the drinks business is proud to announce the third year of the Global Pinot Noir Masters

Click to view more