During the last-minute tastings for The Real Review Certificate of Excellence and Top Wineries list, I felt like the proverbial kid in the candy store.
Using stalks in red-wine fermentation is a traditional practice in making pinot noir and shiraz in France, and has become fashionable in Australia.
Pinot noir and shiraz are an unlikely couple, yet they are surprisingly complementary.
In my recent tastings of Rhône whites, these three stood out like beacons.
In my recent tasting of 110 shirazes, seven of the top 10 were from southern Victoria or Canberra.
Yarra Yering Dry Red Wine No 2 2015, Yarra Valley, AUD $100
Blending shiraz and pinot noir is a tradition in the Hunter Valley, albeit a fringe activity.
Yarra Yering Dry White Wine No. 1 2015, Yarra Valley, AUD $50
At least 25 Australian wine regions regularly produce excellent shiraz. They vary in latitude from the Granite Belt in southern Queensland to Tasmania’s Tamar Valley. Top-line shiraz is also produced from the eastern to the western extremities: from the Hunter Valley to Western Australia’s Swan Valley. There is no other country that offers such a range of shiraz produced in such a variety of terroirs. Yet people still generalize about Australian shiraz as a blockbuster wine: unsubtle, superripe, high-alcohol and jammy. This is a mistake.
In a country like Australia, synonymous with very full-bodied, high-octane, hairy-chested shiraz, Clonakilla stands in stark contrast. Its most famous wine, Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, is light to medium bodied, fine-boned and aromatic. Spicily fragrant to sniff and endowed with soft, gentle tannins, it appeals to lovers of northern Rhone-style shiraz. It has more parallels with pinot noir than benchmark Aussie shiraz.