The most eminent gathering of Shiraz experts in the world is due to meet in Barossa next month for the first International Shiraz Alliance.

Top Rhone winemaker Michel Chapoutier, John Alban and Steve Fennell from California, Charles Back and Kevin Arnold from South Africa, as well as a host of Australian Shiraz exponents are gathering for the four-day event from July 30 to August 2.

The Australian contingent is high-profile: Stephen Henschke of Hill of Grace, Ron Laughton of Jasper Hill, Trevor Mast of Mount Langi Ghiran, former Grange winemaker John Duval and many other prominent names.

The focus of the conference will be a two-day masterclass programme centred on the theme of ‘Nature vs Nurture’. Sessions will investigate natural influences on wine flavour – vine age, cloning, region and terroir, as well as human intervention – fermentation, pressing, alcohol, tannin and oak.

Stressing that the four days are designed to be inclusive and non-partisan, organiser Peter Fuller said, ‘The program is designed to be fun – it’s a great experience to be rubbing shoulders with the world’s top Shiraz makers and we want to ensure that everyone has a good time as well as a wine experience.’

Some trenchant opinions should be guaranteed by the participation of Barossa grandees such as Peter Lehmann, Charlie Melton, Nigel Dolan and Grant Burge.

‘Good natured inter-regional comradeship’ will be another feature, organisers say, with the presence of high-profile winemakers from outside Barossa – Chester Osborn from d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale, Wirra Wirra’s Samantha Connew and Hunter Valley’s Iain Riggs.

The conference also includes the inaugural ‘World Shiraz Exhibition Tasting’ which is expected to showcase more than 100 Shiraz from around the world.

The Shiraz Alliance

Written by Adam Lechmere