Australia and Shiraz are synonymous. Shiraz (also known as Syrah) is a bold and distinctive wine, medium to full-bodied. Medium to high usage of oak delivers layered flavours ranging from spicy blackberry to smooth plum and chocolate.
Shiraz is responsible for some of the darkest full-bodied red wines in the world. When you taste Shiraz you are greeted with a punch of flavour that tapers off and then has a spicy peppery note in the aftertaste. Because of its front-loaded style, Shiraz is often blended with grapes that add more mid-palate, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. (Wine Folly 2013). In Australia, we tend to go for a straight Shiraz.
We are the second largest producer in the world (105,000 acres) after France (169,000 acres) and well ahead of Spain (49,000 acres). (Wine Folly 2013).
Prior to its spread to the new world wine countries of Australia, South Africa, USA, Chile and Argentina; Shiraz had its home mainly in the Rhone Valley in eastern France, around the town of Hermitage. The best wines are sourced from a hill close to the village of Tain-l’Hermitage and are noted for their floral and smoky aromas of blackberry and grilled meat. (Wine Folly 2013).
Even though it is grown all over Australia, the two best known homes for shiraz in Australia are the Barossa Valley in South Australia, home of Penfolds Grange and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, home of Wyndham Estate. (Norrie 2009).
A brief history of Shiraz in Australia
The first vines to come to Australia were collected by Governor Phillip on his way out to Botany Bay with the First Fleet in 1787. He picked up vines from Rio de Janeiro and Capetown which would have been Portuguese varieties and Constantia respectively. (Norrie 2009).
Many Australian’s aren’t aware that John Macarthur, the father of our sheep industry, was arguably also the father of the Australian wine industry. He established Australia’s second privately owned vineyard at his property “Elizabeth Farm” at Parramatta in 1793 and made the first major importation of vines into Australia from France in 1817. He also established a vineyard and vine nursery on the Nepean River near Penrith in 1820. But his most important contribution to the Australian wine industry was the vine nursery and vineyard he established at his main property “Camden Park” at Camden to the south west of Sydney. (Norrie 2009).
John Macarthur and his sons James and William had the first documented importation of Shiraz into Australia. They propagated these vines in their nurseries at Penrith and Camden Park and then distributed them throughout the colony of NSW. (Norrie 2009).
The first commercial shiraz vineyard in Australia was planted by George Wyndham at his property “Dalwood” in 1831 near Branxton in the Hunter River valley in NSW. Prior to this, vineyards were small and for personal use and this 1830 beginning makes the Wyndham Estate brand the oldest major wine brand/label in Australia. (Norrie 2009).
Shiraz now accounts for 46% of all red vineyards and almost a third of all vineyards in Australia. (Winetitles Media 2017).
Shiraz is well suited to our warm and dry climate, it grows well in Australia and produces consistently good wine.
At The Organic Wine Cellar we sell some of Australia’s very best Shiraz. We have Shiraz from vines planted in 1902 at The Hart of the Barossa – the oldest certified organic vineyard in the Barossa Valley. And 94 point Reserve Syrah from Tamburlaine’s 47 year old vineyard in the Hunter Valley. Both of these certified organic wines are a must buy for drinking now or for careful cellaring.
Starting from just $14.00 per single bottle, there’s plenty more certified organic or biodynamic Shiraz to choose from at The Organic Wine Cellar.
The Wine Doctor, Dr Philip Norrie 2009, ‘History of Wine – Who imported the first documented Shiraz Vines into Australia’ <http://www.drnorrie.info/html/article_importshirazvinesaust.html>, viewed 18 January 2017.
Wine Folly 2013, ‘The Secrets To Syrah Wine’ <http://winefolly.com/review/the-secrets-to-syrah-wine/>, viewed 18 January 2017.
Winetitles Media 2017, ‘Wine Industry Statistics – Viticulture’ <http://winetitles.com.au/statistics/viticulture.asp>, viewed 18 January 2017.