Shiraz is Barossa’s most planted grape variety, claiming more than 50 percent vineyard plantings in the region. This Australian wine region is home to some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world, which were planted back in the 1840s. These old vines produce a low yield of highly concentrated fruits that result in a superior quality expression.
Shiraz as a black grape variety is quite adaptable and can be made into a diverse range of styles, depending on numerous factors like site and vintage, which help the winemaker determine the style of wine that they wish to make.
Shiraz from warmer regions is full-bodied, with intense and jammy black fruit flavours and notes of liquorice. In relatively cooler climates, Shiraz produces expressions that are medium-bodied, with fresh black fruit aromas and peppery notes.
Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About Viognier
In Australia’s Barossa region, Shiraz is grown both in Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. The wines coming from this region can be labelled “Barossa” or “Barossa Valley” and the two aren’t the same. A label saying “Barossa” means that the wine was made using grapes sourced from the Barossa zone- both from Eden Valley and Barossa Valley. However, a “Barossa Valley” label means the winemakers used grapes exclusively grown in the Barossa Valley.
The Barossa Valley has a hot and dry climate, with cool nights, giving a good diurnal range to the vines. As a result, the expression of Shiraz from Barossa Valley is usually a full-bodied wine with plush tannins and medium acidity. Since vineyards receive ample sun exposure, yielding fruits with high sugar, the Barossa Valley Shiraz has high levels of alcohol, starting from 14 to 15 percent. It has dominant flavours of black fruits like blackberry, black plum and blackcurrant, along with notes of black pepper, liquorice, chocolate and prunes. Sometimes, the wine also has notes of earthiness and meatiness. The tannins and high alcohol give this expression of Shiraz a good ageing potential and the wine develops tertiary notes of leather and tobacco over the years in a bottle.
Barossa Valley is also home to some of the world’s oldest Shiraz vines, alongside the McLaren Vale region, as this part of the world has not been exposed to phylloxera infestation. These old vines give low yields of fruit that have a high concentration of flavour and colour, producing full-bodied wines with high tannins. They have flavours of cooked black fruits like blackberry, and black cherry, along with notes of black pepper, vanilla and coffee.
While Barossa Valley Shiraz enjoys popularity as a single varietal wine, it is also blended with Grenache and Mourvedre (also called Mataro) varieties to make Rhône Valley-style GSM blends. These wines have gamey flavours of black currant and chocolate.
The Eden Valley is a cooler climate wine region within Barossa that occupies the southeastern half of the zone. It is situated at a higher altitude, with some of the best vineyard sites located on slopes between 380 and 500 metres (1200 and 1640ft) above sea level. Due to this elevation, the region experiences a relatively cooler climate which gives vines a long growing season.
The wines produced here are a fresh and elegant expression of the grape with relatively higher acidity. The vineyards also enjoy a great amount of sunlight, which makes sure that the wines have ripe yet smooth tannins, and ripe black fruit flavours of blackberries and sweet spice aromas, with distinct herbaceous notes. The wines are extremely well-balanced. Due to their high acidity, the wines also have great ageing potential, developing complex tertiary aromas of smoked meat.
Also Read: Popular Wine Styles in Barossa Region
Bold and complex, the Barossa Valley Shiraz pairs well with robust preparations such as casseroles, roasted or grilled lamb and Peking duck with plum sauce. Due to its peppery notes, the wine also pairs well with any food that has black or white pepper.
For cheese pairing, choose the ones that can match the wine’s intensity and boldness, in terms of flavour. Go for blue cheese, gouda or gruyere cheese.
If you want to pair the wine with vegetarian food then go for hearty and earthy dishes like lentil, eggplant or mushroom preparations and don’t forget to crack some fresh black pepper in your dish for a perfect pairing.
Would you like to learn more about the amazing wines of Barossa? The Sonal Holland Wine Academy has collaborated with Barossa Wine School to bring you Introduction to Barossa- a beginner-level course that will guide you through the rich history and diverse flavours of this Australian Wine Region. To enrol for the course free of cost, click here now!