It's hard to think of Australian wine without thinking of Australian Shiraz. It’s the country’s most widely planted grape variety and produces wines from affordable, quaffable reds to magnificent, age-worthy classics. But the Aussies aren’t resting on their laurels. They’re an eclectic and innovative bunch, perfecting old concepts and playing with new ideas to continue the evolution of Shiraz.
In partnership with Wine Australia
Shiraz first made its way to Australia two hundred years ago: John MacArthur is widely credited with importing the first cuttings in 1817 from Europe. In the nineteenth century, Shiraz was used for blending, often with Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon or Mourvèdre, and mostly for fortified rather than table wines.
A pioneering winemaker, Max Schubert, challenged convention in the 1950s and set out to craft a high-quality table wine made predominantly from Shiraz. His legacy lives on: Penfolds’ Grange has become one of the most iconic wines in the world.
With old vines, ancient geology and very complex soils, it’s difficult to describe Australia as the ‘New World’. Australia is in fact home to some of the world’s oldest Shiraz vines, with vineyards dating back to 1843 (Langmeil), 1847 (Turkey Flat) and 1860 (Tahbilk). These ungrafted, pre-phylloxera vines produce tiny crops of intensely concentrated grapes.
As diverse as the country that made it
Australian Shiraz comes in many forms – from delicious, approachable drops to collectible fine wines. Warm climates usually produce full-bodied, richly flavoured and textured wines, while cooler climates generally make medium-bodied and spicy styles.
Some of the most elegant and perfumed styles of Shiraz are from regions with cool nights and high diurnal temperature ranges. Often with less oak, these fresh cool climate styles are sometimes labelled Syrah. You can find these wines in regions such as Western Australia’s Great Southern; South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra, Clare Valley; Yarra Valley and the Grampians in Victoria; Orange in New South Wales; and Canberra.
The country’s unique climate and landscape have fostered a fiercely independent wine scene. Not beholden by tradition, Australian winemakers are curious by nature and continue to experiment and innovate in the pursuit of quality and ‘drinkability’.
Techniques in the vineyard and winery have evolved, helping to bring out the freshness, fruit and perfume of Shiraz. Closer vine spacing, hand harvesting, earlier picking, grape sorting, more gentle use of oak and the move to old French oak, and small-batch open-top fermentation are some of the practices that are reshaping the face of Shiraz.
Australian producers are constantly questioning and challenging how they do things in order to find better ways. Respecting traditions, but being open to new ideas, and farming sustainably will ensure a legacy for many generations to come.
From bold BBQ reds to iconic, elegant fine wines, Australian Shiraz has it all. It has been in Australia longer than many other grape varieties, but its status as Australia’s most popular red wine looks set to continue.
Australian Wine Tasting
Monday 27 January, Edinburgh
Experience the diversity of Australian wine, taste the country’s iconic styles, explore new trends, and meet the winemakers.
Taking place at The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, there will be more than 350 wines from 60 wineries across Australia. This is the biggest, brightest and most diverse showcase of Australian wine in Scotland.
Taste crisp vibrant whites, standout sparkling, elegant reds and thrilling alternative varieties. From the rogue to the refined, you’ll discover Australian wines that are far from ordinary.
More details and buy tickets here.
Monday 27 January 2020
18:30 – 20:00
The Balmoral, 1 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2EQ