Cool runnings for shiraz
Shiraz has been reinvented in the cooler parts of Australia in recent years. Yes, the big, dark, powerful wines are still being produced in the warmer regions (and they are better than ever), but a relatively new class of shiraz has emerged in the cooler areas, such as southern Victoria, the Canberra district of NSW and the Adelaide Hills.
In my recent tasting of 110 shirazes, seven of the top 10 were from southern Victoria or Canberra. Widening the focus a little, 10 of the top 20 were from these regions and the Adelaide Hills. Widening a little further, and three of the most elegant Coonawarra shirazes you are ever likely to meet also sneak in (all from Wynns*)
My favourites included three 2015 vintage Yarra Yering wines: the Carrodus (AUD $250), the Dry Red Wine No. 2 (AUD $100) and Underhill Shiraz (AUD $100). It seems AUD $100 is now the starting price for Yarra Yering, and the old vines in top vintages have inspired the release of a suite of Carrodus reserve wines. These are spell-binding wines. The question will inevitably be asked: do the regular labels suffer from the removal of some of the best old vine material? The answer – at least in 2015 – is a resounding ‘No!’. For they are great wines also, some of the best I’ve ever tasted from this exalted vineyard.
Are the Carrodus wines better? Not exactly; just different. After the blind tasting, I found myself drinking more of the No. 2 because of its slightly greater softness, fragrance, succulence, and sheer gorgeous drinkability. It is a shiraz with small contributions from viognier, marsanne and mataro.
In the same class is Clonakilla’s 2016 Shiraz Viognier (AUD $110), a beautifully perfumed and supremely elegant red wine. Also in the top group is the 2015 Shiraz By Farr (AUD $65), another beautiful wine with floral and root vegetable whole-bunch fermented nuances among its complex aromas. Yering Station Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2015 (AUD $120) is simply the most lovely rendition of this famous wine, the most seductive vintage that I can remember enjoying as a new release.
Interesting that four of these top wines were shiraz viognier blends.
Also in this fine-boned, spicy, elegant style is Allen Hart’s Dogrock Degraves Road Shiraz 2015 (AUD $35). This is the Pyrenees region, but a very individual rendition, which always seems to me more Grampians than Pyrenees in style.
Also among my favourites were two great Barossans, more full-bodied and denser, with firmer tannins as you might expect: John Duval Eligo 2014 (AUD $120) and Schwarz Schiller Single Vineyard 2015 (AUD $75) – the latter a rare and highly impressive chocolate and licorice style shiraz, made by the youthful Jason Schwarz from just 400 vines planted in 1881 in the Hallett Valley by Carl Schiller. You want rarity? You want story? There it is!