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Cool climate Australian Shiraz still a ‘hard sell’, says Paringa owner

Mornington Peninsula's potential for cool climate Australian Shiraz should not be ignored as the region's reputation for Pinot Noir rises, but consumers need more convincing, says the owner of Paringa Estate.

Shiraz is still strongly associated with Barossa in Australia, and all of the spicy, ripe and jammy character that entails.

But, many Australian winemakers argue that Shiraz is quite the chameleon in their country. Michael Hill Smith MW has previously divided Australian Shiraz into four main categories: modern, traditional, warmer climate and cooler climate.

The cool climate in Mornington Peninsula has for many years now been considered more suited to popular Burgundian grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and several high ratings have backed this up. The thick-skinned Shiraz grapes would struggle to ripen here.
But Paringa Estate’s Lindsay McCall believes cool climate Shiraz has a bright future in the area.

‘It is a harder line to sell,’ said McCall at a lunch in London last week. He only produces a few thousand cases. ‘I’ve had Shiraz and been planting it for 30 years, and still people come to my cellar door and say “Oh I didn’t know you made Shiraz” – and then they taste it, and inevitably walk out with a few bottles.

‘It’s still a discovery for most people who come… [they’re] coming to try the Pinots and suddenly find there’s another variety.’

McCall, a former schoolteacher who founded Paringa in 1984, decided to try planting Shiraz a year later after visiting nearby Yarra Valley. ‘I tried a very special wine [a 1980 Shiraz from Seville Estate]… and it just blew me away,’he said.

‘I could not believe how elegant, how spicy, how beautiful the wine was. So I thought, they’re in the Yarra Valley, they’re cool, we’re cool – I’m going to have a go.’

Having founded Paringa Estate in 1984, he started planting Shiraz in 1985, and it wasn’t long before the wines were picking up trophies in the Australian wine competitions, standing out from the Barossa wines that were very macerated, heavily oaked and very jammy.

Paringa saw its single vineyard Shiraz included in both the fifth and sixth Langton’s Classification in Australia.

Even so, Pinot Noir appears in no danger of losing its dominance in Mornington Peninsula. Decanter named Paringa’s 2010 Estate Pinot Noir one of its top 50 wines of 2013.


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