Shiraz Masterclass – Old Bull versus New Bull, head to head

Australia produces a wider range of shiraz wines than any other country, in my opinion. It’s also the world’s second-biggest grower of shiraz vines, after France.

We have at least 24 regions which regularly produce outstanding shiraz, and they range in latitude from Tasmania’s Tamar Valley to Queensland’s Granite Belt, from the Hunter Valley in the east to the Swan Valley in the west. It is an admission of ignorance when people in other countries describe all Australian shirazes as oaky, alcoholic gut-busters.

In recent decades, the diversity of styles being produced has burgeoned, reflecting the increased diversity of places where it’s being grown. Not long ago you’d have been certified if you’d advised planting shiraz in Tasmania, for example.

On top of this fascinating template of differing climates and soils we now have an explosion of new styles of shiraz, reflecting experimentation with production techniques. These include co-fermenting with white viognier grapes, fermenting whole bunches (including stems), fermenting with wild yeasts, and so on. Harvesting earlier for lower alcohol, and cutting back on oak are two practices now widespread.

This masterclass will compare and contrast six great examples of traditional Aussie shiraz styles with six modern interpretations.

Nick O’Leary of Nick O’Leary Wines, Canberra District, will be my co-presenter. O’Leary has been turning heads with his shirazes, made mainly from Canberra region grapes, for some years and has won many show awards. We will taste his 2013 Bolaro Shiraz (tasting), which topped the NSW Wine Awards last year, winning the title NSW Wine Of The Year.

We’ll also sample Clonakilla’s 2013 Shiraz Viognier (arguably the best vintage yet for this famous wine – tasting), and Jamsheed’s Garden Gully Syrah (tastings) from Great Western, De Bortoli Yarra Valley – tastings (these last are two of our most innovative shiraz makers), as well as the top cuvee from Alex Head (one of the Barossa’s star younger-generation winemakers – tastings), and Heathcote Estate (a top maker in a relatively new but quick-to-excel shiraz region – tastings).

The ‘traditional’ wines include Hardy’s Eileen Hardy (McLaren Vale – tastings), Penfolds RWT (Barossa – tastings), Seppelt St Peters (Great Western – tastings), Jim Barry The Armagh (Clare – tastings), Tyrrell’s Vat 9 (Hunter – tastings) and Wynns Michael (Coonawarra – tastings) – all great wines in their own right.

When: Tuesday May 19, 6-8pm.

Where: Grace Hotel, 77 York St, Sydney

Cost: $115

Bookings: www.boutiquewines.com.au

A small food platter will be served to accompany the wines.

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