If you are a wine lover in Australia, you would be well aware of the many wine regions that span the length and breadth of our great country. From the warmer grape growing areas such as the Barossa and Hunter Valleys to the cooler climes of Tasmania, Victoria, and our own Yass Valley region. An important thread of Australia’s wine tapestry is the diverse styles that different regions produce from the same grape variety.
One of the best examples of this phenomenon is the Shiraz grape variety. With its ancestral roots reaching back to the Rhone region of France, it has become the red wine workhorse of the Australian wine industry. Shiraz wines from grapes grown in warmer climates, such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, will most likely be richer, riper, juicier and higher in alcohol, leading to more robust and fuller-bodied wines. In contrast, Shiraz wines from cool climates like the Yass Valley region will most likely be more refined and elegant with delicate fruit flavours and spice characters.
With warmer climate Shiraz, expect flavours like dark plums, ripe blackberries, chocolate, mocha, and black pepper. With Shiraz from cooler climates, you can expect more florally fragrant wines, ripe red fruit flavours like raspberries and spicy characters, including white pepper, star anise and cloves, etc. At Chateau Lello, we have been making our own Shiraz since 2014. While the flavours may differ slightly from year to year, our Shiraz always carries the character of star anise – becoming a trademark stamp of our drop.
To take regional differences even further, wines of the same grape variety are likely to differ even within cool climate regions. And even further still, grapes grown in one part of a vineyard may produce fruit that is different from those just across the paddock. Factors like soil profile and aspect can play an important role in the resulting flavours and characters of the wines.
Next time you’re out and about in our region’s wineries, you might find that they have specific barrels for the different parts of the vineyard. They can then blend them back into a single wine prior to bottling.
Increasingly, Shiraz wines from cooler climates are labelled as “Syrah”, a throwback to the variety’s heritage, helping the punters identify them as stylistically different from the big, ripe and robust Shiraz from warmer climates.
Cooler climate styles of Shiraz are seemingly held in high regard too. Evidence for this is that seven of the eight trophy winners in the 2019 Great Australian Shiraz Challenge were from cool climates.
Anyway, Que Syrah, Syrah – Whatever will be, will be – I guess.