Shiraz is the great Australian red wine variety. It is grown is almost every region in Australia. It accounts for the most vineyard land of any one variety (43,000 hectares) and probably the greatest volume of varietally labelled wine. It is what Australia is famous for and has driven our export success for the last 20 years. So it’s a pretty competitive field to be working in.
Shiraz, or otherwise known as syrah, has its origins in the Rhone Valley of France. The Rhone is divided into north and south and while is exists in both, it is in the north that it come into pre-eminence and produces its greatest wines. The hill of Hermitage and the roasted slopes of Cote Rotie and the tiny region of Cornas sit at the pinnacle of great wines. Other appellations producing quality wines and at more affordable prices include Saint Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage.
Orange is an old and beautiful roman town in the southern Rhone region of Chateauneuf-du-pape. This wine is dominated by grenache but shiraz plays a supporting role. So it is appropriate that Orange, Australia should produce shiraz and it does so very well. However, it does not necessarily fit the preconceived style of Australian shiraz. It is not the big, ripe blockbuster style. It tends to be far more delicate, with spice, floral and red berry fruit. It has some earthiness and licorice but can be easily overwhelmed by oak. At lower vineyard sites it can attain richer flavours such as blackberry and plum.
Printhie has two shiraz wines and uses shiraz in a few other blends as well. The Mountain Range Shiraz does show some riper flavours without sacrificing its cool climate elegance. The 2008 vintage was recently given a five glass award and 94 points in James Hallidays 2010 Wine Companion which is a terrific result for a $17 wine. This wine is now becoming available through retail stores. The Shiraz Viognier is produced under the Mt Canobolas Collection range. The 2008 vintage has just been released at cellar door. This is typical Orange shiraz – fine boned, fragrant with an aromatic lift from the 4% viognier and with great length and persistence and surprising complexity of flavour. It is not an obvious wine and could be easily overlooked. It is just a baby and will age gracefully over the next decade or more.
Shiraz also makes its way into our Shiraz Cabernet blend which is now labelled under the Mt Canobolas Collection. This is a classic Aussie red blend and the 2008 vintage shows why these two varieties can work so well together – it shows composure, structure, richness and balance. And of course, shiraz often finds its way into the Swift Family Heritage flagship blend.