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Diverse shiraz

Steve Pannell (Photo: Grant Nowell)

Shiraz in Australia comes in many shapes and sizes. My latest tasting of 130 shiraz and shiraz-based blends includes wines from many disparate regions. They traverse the vinous landscape from the peppery, medium-bodied Canberra District to the spicy, stemmy modern wines from Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley to the rich, chocolaty heart-warming wines of McLaren Vale, Barossa and Clare.

There is truly something for everyone.

If you favour the blood-and-thunder McLaren Vale and Barossa styles there are several, from Saltram Moculta, The Old Faithful Café Block and D’Arenberg The Dead Arm to Peter Lehmann Stonewell. Or if you prefer a lighter, finer, more pinot-like structured shiraz there’s Clonakilla O’Riada or Gundog Estate Marksman. Not all can be pigeon-holed: elegant for a McLaren Vale is Bekkers Syrah Grenache; big for the Alpine Valleys region is Mayford, from Porepunkah in the Ovens Valley.

The biggest of all is Claymore Wines Ian Rush Signature Reserve, a 16% alcohol body-slammer from the Clare Valley, which will seemingly live forever and is a very good example of its type.

There are two interesting new arrivals from Stephen Pannell – the S.C. Pannell Koomilya reds, which are grown on a vineyard Steve coveted way back when he was chief red winemaker at Hardys, and ended up buying a few years ago. They’re not cheap: the 2014 Koomilya shiraz is $70 and the 2013 Koomilya DC Block is $110, but they are genuine ‘character’ wines in a nostalgic style – made from a single, unirrigated old-vine vineyard, the fruit picked earlier than is usual these days and matured in large oak vats instead of small barrels. Yum.

And if you have a lazy $250, the latest Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz, 2014 vintage, is an extraordinary wine, perhaps the greatest ever O’Shea and there have been some rippers. It will give unbridled drinking pleasure for the next 35 years or more. I hope to live long enough to taste it at maturity.

Time to empty the piggy bank.

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