Home > Australia, Shiraz > What To Drink During #ShirazWeek

What To Drink During #ShirazWeek

February 21, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

ShirazWeekYep, another wine holiday is upon us. This time, it is a week-long holiday, so you will surely get your opportunity to celebrate. What holiday, you ask? #ShirazWeek. Yep, the whole week dedicated to the Shiraz wines.

As we know, Shiraz is just a different name for the grape called Syrah, one of the most popular red grapes in the world. Today Syrah is literally growing everywhere – France, Spain, Italy, even Portugal, United States, Chile, Israel, South Africa, Australia and many others. But – what is the first country which comes to mind when you hear the word Shiraz? For me, the answer is simple – Australia.

Australia is one and only wine making country where you will not find wines called Syrah (well, may be you can, but with extreme difficulties). South Africa is probably next – most of South African Syrah wines are called “Shiraz”. For the rest of the world, Chile is often uses the name Shiraz, and you can find some of US wines called Shiraz as well (quite rare – Syrah prevails by a huge margin), and then it is Syrah all the way.

Shiraz is most popular red grape in Australia, with the plantings been second largest in the world after France. A quick question for you – do you know where the oldest, continuously producing Shiraz vines are located? Well, yeah, I’m sure it was easy to figure out in the context – yes, in Australia, in Barossa Valley, planted in 1847, now reaching a tender age of almost 170 years. Over the years Shiraz had its ups and downs, with the vineyards ripped out, including the old vines, with overproduction and quality problems – but it still remains Australia’s darling, and a world-class wine on its own, well worthy of a celebration. Shiraz is produced everywhere in Australia, but Barossa, Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Hunter Valley, Margaret River and McLaren Vale are probably the most famous regions for that wine.

Now, let’s talk about what to drink in honor of the #ShirazWeek. Of course I don’t think you should be drinking Shiraz for the whole week – but then you should do whatever you think is right – I’m merely here to provide some suggestions. As a self-made oenophile, I went through lots of Australian wines the bargain aisle has to offer – I had my fair share of Yellow Tail, Rosemount, Wolf Blass and Lindeman’s – the wines that comprise the glory and the curse of the Australian wine industry. But – I’m sure you don’t need my advice with that group. Let me instead suggest some names which I think would be worthy of your attention. The list below has no particular order – but these are all the producers I can related to, one way or the other. While some of these wines will be more expensive than the others, I don’t expect you to need to break the bank to taste any of them, so don’t be concerned.

d’Arenberg – very well known producer in McLaren Vale, with many family generations involved in the winemaking. Footbolt Shiraz (under $20) and Dead Arm Shiraz (around $70) both worth your attention.

Jim Barry – Jim Barry is a well known producer in the Clare Valley. While they make a number of wines, the one I particularly recommend is Jim Barry McRae Wood ($50), a single vineyard Shiraz – very focused and delicious.

Two Hands Wines – their wines are exuberant, over the top, and never shy in alcohol – but they also manage to achieve an impeccable balance. Try whatever you can get your hands on. The wines are generally priced in the $30 – $100 range.

Mollydooker Wines – a wonderful producer in McLaren Vale. I love the way their wines are named – Carnival of Love, Blue Eyed Boy or Two Left Feet, for instance. Again, try anything you can get. Similarly to the Two Hands, their wines are priced in the $25 – $100 range.

Henry’s Drive – a producer in Padthaway in South Australia. I came across their Dead Letter Office Shiraz as a recommendation from Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, writers of the Wall Street Journal’s Tastings column, where 2005 Dead Letter Office Shiraz was rated as Delicious!, a highest honors in the Tastings column. I had an opportunity to taste and concur – and according to the Wine-Searcher, the 2005 is still available online at $26.

Pirramimma – a producer in McLaren Vale. I have to be honest – I never tried their wines, but – the 2005 Shiraz was listed in that exact same Tastings column with exact same Delicious! rating, hence my recommendation. I have a bottle of this wine, and will probably follow my recommendation soon.

Elderton Wines – another great producer from Barossa. I had an opportunity to try 2002 Elderton Command Shiraz, and this wine was simply stunning. It will set you back about $90 or so – but in that price category, it is well worth every penny.

M. Chapoutier – best known for their French Syrah wines, M. Chapoutier started producing Shiraz in Victoria, Australia in 2002. Tasting 2011 Domaine Tournon Mathilda Shiraz was literally a mind-blowing experience and it was one of my absolute favorite discoveries of the last year (here is my post). At less than $15, this might be the best Shiraz you can ever taste at a price.

There are lots and lots more Shiraz producers in Australia – as I said before, the list above only includes wines I can relate to, so feel free to suggest your favorites.

And just in case money are no object, I would like to suggest two Shiraz wines I didn’t have the opportunity to taste, but they should be able to provide a holistic experience, at least based on the price ($600+) and according to the people who tasted them. I’m talking about Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill Of Grace Shiraz Eden Valley – both wines should be absolutely magnificent – but I will let you confirm or deny it in case you had the firsthand experience.

Now you are ready to celebrate the #ShirazWeek – and don’t forget to share your experiences on the AussieWine web site. Drop me a note too – I want to know what is in your glass and how do you like it. Cheers!

 

  1. February 21, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Nice to see familiar bottles such as Pirramimma and d’Arenberg. I don’t know how the Aussie wine industry have changed since I left but I used to be a Grant Burge fan all the way and another favourite was St Hallett, which I still have in my cellar here. Thanks.

    • talkavino
      February 22, 2015 at 9:12 am

      Thank you for sharing your experience – I heard of Grant Burge (never had it), and I never heard of St. Hallett – will pay attention if will come across.

  2. February 21, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    Great post. A couple of other Aussie Shiraz suggestions to add to the list the Warrenmang Black Puma and Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael, could add another …..

    • talkavino
      February 22, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Thank you for suggestions! It seems that some of the Wynns wines should be available in US – will look for them.

      • February 22, 2015 at 6:34 pm

        If you can find the black label Cab Sav, give that a go, as it is usually great value and very consistent. Also, try the Rockfords Basket Press if it is available

  3. February 21, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Fab post Anatoli, though I may well be slightly biased due to my country of origin! 😉 Coincidentally we enjoyed a bottle of M. Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Shiraz this week too… though it wasn’t Mathilda, it was the 2011 Maxime Chapoutier instead.
    Many years ago my husband won a bottle of 1983 Grange Hermitage in a raffle through his work. We shared it a number of years later with some close friends and enjoyed it very much… though I’m pretty sure you would have appreciated it at such a different level (in all of it’s complexity) than we did Anatoli. 🙂

    • talkavino
      February 22, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Margot! I have no idea if I will be able to appreciate the Grange, but I would love to try it one day for sure … 🙂

  4. February 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

    This post gets me thinking again of Aussie Shiraz. It probably was my go to red for several years. But, I don’t have it much anymore. I have to agree with many of the comments. Pirramima, St. Hallett’s Blackwell, and the monster which is Elderton Command are beautiful representatives as is any Burge. Now, I think it’s time to restock.

    • talkavino
      February 22, 2015 at 12:07 pm

      Glad to hear that, Bill. So I can consider this blog as thought provoking, which is the best I can wish for 🙂

  5. February 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    I kicked off #ShirazWeek with a lovely wine: Langmeil Barossa Three Gardens 2011 SMG; 52% Shiraz, 31% Mataro and 17% Grenache. It was delicious! Thanks for the post. I find Barossa Valley wines are quite enjoyable! Cheers!

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