Grape Varieties & Winemaking - Black Varieties - Shiraz

4 important questions on Grape Varieties & Winemaking - Black Varieties - Shiraz

Shiraz (Syrah) is Australia's most planted grape variety. Which %? What are the characteristics?

Shiraz is Australia's flagship variety for 30% of it's vineyard area.
  • Planted in most 65 regions
  • therefore wide variety of styles
  • Hot areas: Barossa and McLaren Vale - full bodied, high % abv, high soft tannins. Jammy, dark fruits, ripe tannins and spicy notes.
  • Cooler areas: Yarra Valley, Grampians - food friendly, medium bodied/less body, elegant, less %abv, less intens fruit; red and black cherry and distinct black pepper!
  • Also Licorice

Australian Shiraz is widely used in blends. Which other varieties are used in these blends?

  • Rhône style/GSM blends with Grenache and Mourvèdre aka Mataro
  • Shiraz-Viognier as in Côte Rotie for premium blends, co-fermentation.
  • with Cabernet Sauvignon to give softness and body (similar to Merlot in Bordeaux).

In Australia a less intense, more approachable style of Shiraz is the trend. How is this achieved?

  • By reducing amount of extraction
  • By using whole bunch fermentation and/or
  • reducing the levels of oak (American is traditional, French oak increasingly used)
  • Often open fermentation tanks are used with manual/mechanical punch downers to soften the extraction of tannins.
  • Picking times
  • Vineyard management
  • Canopy management, not to get overly ripe
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What are the famous and key regions for Australian Shiraz?

  1. Barossa Valley - most exported, bold; earthy, kardemom, spicy
  2. Adelaide hills - moderate, pepper
  3. Canberra district
  4. Clare valley
  5. McLaren Vale - full bodied
  6. Hunter Valley
  7. The Grampians - elegant
  8. Eden Valley - pepper
  9. Mount Barker - pepper

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