Producer: Schild Estate Wines
Country Hierarchy: South Australia, Australia
Grape/Blend: Grenache – Mourvedre – Syrah
Food Suggestion: Beef and Venison
Wine Style: Red – Rich and Intense
Alcohol Content: 14 – 15%
- Decanter World Wine Awards, 2016: Bronze
- International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2016: Silver Outstanding
Barossa is one of the six wine-producing zones of South Australia. It is divided into two sections: the Barossa Valley, and the Eden Valley, both of which have their own separate Geographical Indication (GI). Grapegrowing conditions vary immensely across the wider Barossa zone and this is reflected in the markedly different wine styles produced here.
Grenache bush vines in Barossa ©Jonathan Reeve
The Barossa zone lies northeast of Adelaide Hills and is a compact geographical unit with a variable landscape of gently elevated terrain and flat valley floors. The overall climate is hard to categorize as conditions vary – not only due to the elevation but also because of the inland locations and the coastal influence. The valley floors are very hot during summer, with temperatures often exceeding 95F (35C). This, along with scant rainfall and limited natural water in the soil, makes irrigation essential. On the other hand, the higher areas are cool with distinctly high diurnal temperature variation, which helps to bring out the best from the aromatic varieties as well as assisting a high degree of phenolic ripenessin the grapes.
Shiraz and Riesling are the most notable grape varieties in the Barossa zone. Barossa Shiraz has traditionally been made in an intense, powerful, expression, and is arguably Australia’s most famous wine style. Other very high-quality Barossa wines are produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillon and Viognier. Additionally, GSM-style blends have earned high acclaim, as Grenache and Mourvedre (also known as Mataro in the region) perform extremely well in Barossa’s warm and dry climate. Recenlty the zone has also been a hotbed of experimentation, with new vine varieties such as Tempranillo and Zinfandel making their mark on local and international markets.
Grenache – Syrah – Mourvedre blended wines – commonly known by the acronym GSM – are the particular specialty of the southern Rhone Valley in France. Grenache and Syrahare key in this part of the world, and are complemented in this instance by the addition of Mourvedre: an important but slightly less famous inclusion to the blend. GSM wines, which have been readily adopted by the New World, are rich, full bodied and leathery, and are characterized by flavors of dark fruit and spice.
All three varieties have the Mediterranean coast as their homeland, and all three are very important to the region’s viticultural makeup. Grenache, which contributes spice, red fruit and alcohol to the blend, is widespread in southern France and also in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha and is part of the Rioja blend. Mourvedre, the key grape variety in Bandol, shares this Mediterranean dispersal and is also found in Spain where it is known as Monastrell. It gives tannins, color and length to the wine. Syrah, with its structure and dark fruit, is very much a French variety and is the mainstay of the northern Rhone Valley. Nowadays it is also planted across the world from Australia to India.
Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blends
The most notable application of the GSM blend in France is in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. While this appellation famously allows for 13 different varieties, many producers make Grenache-dominant wines with Syrah and Mourvedre in smaller proportions, with any other permitted varieties making up just a fraction of the blend. The Cotes du Rhone AOC has this as its key blend as well, as do several other appellations in southern France, including Vacqueyras, Corbieres and La Clape.
The traditional nature of the blend has not stopped forward-thinking, modern vignerons in the new world from experimenting with Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. A group of producers along California’s Central Coast calling themselves the Rhone Rangers began to promote the three varieties in the 1980s, making wines in the spirit of the southern Rhone. Chief among these wines was Randall Grahm’s “Le Cigare Volant”, a GSM wine based on the Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend, the label of which recalls the famous municipal decree that excludes flying saucers from the nearby vineyards.
The GSM blend is also used widely in Australia, where Syrah is known as Shiraz and often makes up the bulk of the wine. While this blend is quantitatively not as important as varietal Shiraz, it is quite widely used, particularly in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.
Food matches for Grenache – Syrah – Mourvedre wines include:
- Steak with bone marrow
- Braised lamb shoulder with roasted parsnips
- Cumin and garlic beef strips
(sources : wine-searcher)