What I Drank Last Night
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New Wave Shiraz

Super sexy.

As wine producers search for individuality and thereby something to give them the edge on the competition, new wine growing areas are being pioneered around the world like never before.  On Friday at Haskell Vineyards in Stellenbosch, a comparative tasting featuring Aussie vs. South African Shiraz, wines chosen in order to explore the potential of what might be considered less established regions.

Sourcing the Australian wines was thanks to Grant Dodd, CEO of Haskell Vineyards but based in Australia, while the local wines involved were selected by me (two wines from Stellenbosch which can hardly be considered “New Wave” but Reyneke 2011 included on the basis of being South Africa’s leading biodynamic producer and Haskell Aeon 2010 in deference to our host).

The panel included Dodd, me and fellow wine critics Michael Fridjhon, Tim James and Angel Lloyd. We tasted blind with scoring done according to the 20-point system and here’s how the wines ranked (average arithmetic scores in brackets):

1. Mullineux 2010, Swartland (17.8)

2. Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010, Canberra (17.2)

3. = De Iuliis Steven Vineyard 2011, Hunter Valley (17.1)

3. = Strandveld 2010, Elim (17.1)

5. Glaetzer Dixon Mon Pere Shiraz 2010, Tasmania (16.9)

6. Dalwhinnie Moonambel 2009, Pyrenees (16.5)

7. De Bortoli Reserve 2010, Yarra Valley (16.4)

8. Sami Odi Hoffmann Dallwitz 2010, Barossa (16.3)

9. Eagles’ Nest 2009, Constantia (16.1)

10. = Fable Bobbejaan 2010, Tulbagh (16)

10. = Tyrrells Old Patch 1867 2009, Hunter Valley (16)

12. = Marius Symphony 2010, McLaren Vale (15.9)

12. = Raka Biography 2010, Klein Rivier (15.9)

14. = Bests Bin O 2010, Great Western (15.7)

14. = Groote Post 2011, Darling (15.7)

14. = Haskell Aeon 2010, Stellenbosch (15.7)

17. Forest Hill Block 5 2010, Mount Barker (15.4)

18. = Belfield 2009, Elgin (15.1)

18. = Scali 2008, Voor Paardeberg (15.1)

20. = Larry Cherubino Laissez Faire 2011, Margaret River (15)

20. = Reyneke 2011, Stellenbosch (15)

22. Lomond Conebush 2009, Cape Agulhas (14.3)

For the record, my top three wines on the day were Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2010, Raka Biography 2010 (both 17.5/20) and Eagles’ Nest 2010 (17/20).

Presuming your loyalties lie with South Africa rather than Australia, nice to see Mullineux emerge top of the pile on this occasion. Rankings matter up to a point but just about all the wines had some redeeming merit and on a different day, no doubt a different outcome. What was so pleasing about this particular tasting was the really wide range of different expressions of Shiraz on display, all more or less legitimate – if you truly love wine then you don’t want any one style to predominate.

Comments

  1. Looks like it was a great tasting! Apologies for not emailing through a few stats for the Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere shiraz. The Coal and Derwent Valleys in southern Tasmania where I source the grapes from both have GDDs below 1180. No whole bunch in the 2010, though about 1% pinot gris used as a co-fermenter.

  2. There’s something about Dalwhinnie that gets overlooked in blind tastings. Never seems to do well, yet the wine is 13.4% with 0.1g/l of RS. Personally think this is an excellent wine.

  3. Tasting note for the Dalwhinnie 2009: “Intense black in colour. Dark fruit, mint and chocolate on the nose. Rich and full, heavily extracted. An unashamed blockbuster.” Score: 15/20.

  4. Christian, what were your notes on the Dalwhinnie?

  5. Thanks for your involvement Christian. I think we can put the stereotype’s about Oz Shiraz to bed after this one. The highest alc wine was 14.5%, and that from the coolest region ( Porongurups at 1450 GDD)…most were in the 13′s and low 14′s, and displayed great balance. The Mullineaux is a lovely wine, a deserving winner. A great achievement to create that elegance in one of the hottest growing regions in the wine world. 

  6. Very interesting outcome and serious kudos to Mullineux given the comp. I have been buying Clonakilla Sh/V  for a decade and am always amazed at its age-ability  and how it offers such drinking pleasure at every stage of its life cycle. Very much a NRhone style wine and a very “un-Aussie” Shiraz  by  commonly held perceptions. (It is my experience that many Aussie winemakers are working hard to migrate away from huge, oaky, fruit driven Shiraz’s??)

    In any event, congrats on assembling an excellent range of wines to compare. Great achievement for wines like Raka Biography and Eagles Nest to perform well…which is consistent with their usual ratings in other competitions and, IMHO, well deserved.

  7. Hi Keith, I wasn’t able to determine country of origin with any sense of conviction, and I think this experience was pretty much common across the panel. On the one hand, we are seeing a convergence when it comes to winemaking approach (lots of whole bunch fermentation being used by both the Aussies and Saffas, for instance) but on the other, the diversification of planting areas that’s going on means a typically “Australian” or “South African” wine becomes increasingly meaningless (the knack that UK journos have for spotting “burnt rubber” on our wines, notwithstanding). I think what always impresses about the Mullineux is the very great flavour intensity, which is the mark of great wine wherever it comes from.

  8. Keith Prothero says:

    Thanks for  report Christian.    Obviously,I am very pleased that the Mullineux was rated best overall and I wonder whether this was partly because the SA tasters prefer the more NRhone style of the Mullineux to the bigger sweeter style of your typical Aussie Shiraz?

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