Producer: Evans Wine Company
Region/Appellation: McLaren Vale
Country Hierarchy: South Australia, Australia
Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Rich and Intense
Alcohol Content: 14%
McLaren Vale Wine
The McLaren Vale wine region, in the north-west of Fleurieu Peninsula, is located approximately 22 miles (35km) south of Adelaide. It is by far the most important wine-producing area in the Fleurieu zone and is also regarded very highly throughout Australiaand the world. The region acquired its GI (Geographical Indication) status in 1997, but wine-growing traditions here are amongst the oldest in the country. Pioneers such as Thomas Hardy and John Reynella, both iconic names in the Australian wine industry, can be credited with this achievement, having realized the region’s potential in the early 19th century when the first vines were planted. McLaren Vale has come a long way since then and is home to some of Australia’s most highly regarded wine producers.
The view over McLaren Vale ©SAWIA
The region’s grape-growing conditions are varied, due to both its variable topography and its proximity to the cooling influences of the Gulf Saint Vincent. Altitudes differ markedly according to the location, and different mesoclimates are created as a result of varying degrees of exposure to the Mount Lofty Ranges in the north and the Sellicks Ranges in the south. Overall, the climate is Mediterranean, with fresh sea breezes helping to moderate temperatures during the growing season. Chilly winds from the hills also cool the grapes on specific sites, helping to retain acidity and structure. The summers and most of the autumn season are dry, which keeps vine diseases at bay. McLaren Vale also boasts a wide range of soil types, with localized specialties.
The climatic and geographical diversity of McLaren Vale is reflected in the wide array of grape varieties which can be successfully grown here. The best wines come from very old vines, some planted more than 100 years ago. These are prized for producing low yields of extremely concentrated fruit. Shiraz leads the region’s list of award-winning wines, making McLaren Vale a favorite place to grow this grape. Cabernet Sauvignon is another prominent grape variety, along with Grenache and Mourvedre, which, together with Shiraz, make up some of the most acclaimed GSM blends here. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate McLaren Vale’s white grape varieties, with a plethora of other regional and international specialties such as Merlot, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Viognier also making their mark.
Shiraz is the name given to the dark-skinned Syrah grape when grown in Australia and selected pockets of the New World. Though genetically identical, the stylistic differences between Shiraz and Syrah are pronounced enough to consider them distinct varieties. Shiraz is so important to Australian viticulture that it is the most planted grape variety in the majority of Australian vineyards and has become virtually synonymous with the country’s wine regions, and in particular the Barossa Valley.
The term Shiraz has its roots in the New World, although there is no one story about how it came to be named this. The prevailing style of Shiraz winemaking reflects its New World roots, though, tending toward bright fruit flavors – most frequently blueberries, blackcurrants and black cherries. Secondary notes of chocolate lend themselves well to the full-bodied texture of these wines, often accented by pepper and spicy inflections.
During the 1990s and early 2000s a lot of Australian Shiraz was characterized by highly extracted, super-ripe wines that, for better or worse, caught the attention of wine critics around the world. Some responded well to the style, championing the rich and bold flavors, while others lambasted the wines’ lack of subtlety. Regardless of the divided critics, consumer enthusiasm for Australian Shiraz flourished during this period and countless expressions of the style were exported around the world.
At the dawn of the 21st Century there was a tangible shift in the way a lot of Australian Shiraz was made, with cool-climate styles coming into their own and complexity gaining ground over sheer power. A new generation of wines began to emerge, working towards the elegantly spicy styles of the northern Rhone.
As with Syrah in the Rhone, Australian Shiraz is often blended with Grenache and Mourvedre, creating what has become widely known as GSM. The dark chocolate and cassis of Shiraz, coupled with the plummy richness of Grenache and the earthy, gamey strength of Mourvedre makes for a rich, opulent style often greater than the sum of its parts.
One uniquely Australian application of Shiraz is to blend it with Cabernet Sauvignon. This was a previously unheard-of tradition in the Old World, but the Cabernet – Shiraz blend has become so popular that it now represents a sizable proportion of Australian red wine blends. The other major Shiraz blend emulates the idiosyncratic wines of Cote Rotie by adding a small proportion of Viognier to the wine. Australian Shiraz – Viognier wines have forged a formidable reputation on the international stage; some of the best examples can fetch three-figure prices.
The name Shiraz has become so widely recognized and so highly marketable that it has been used to label Syrah wines in countries other than Australia. In South Africa, the Shiraz naming convention is commonplace and in the U.S., South America and Israel either Syrah or Shiraz may be used depending on fashion. Even a handful of producers in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon have taken to labeling their wines as Shiraz.
Synonyms include: Syrah, Hermitage, Scyras.
Food matches for Shiraz include:
- Beef Wellington
- Malay lamb korma
- Lentils with smoked ham hock
(sources : wine-searcher)