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Seminal look at Australian Shiraz

Published:  23 July, 2008

Flavour profiles of Shiraz across Australia was the subject of a seminar at the Australia Day Tasting in London last week.

'Shiraz: Exploring the Differences' compared wines from the Hunter, Clare, McLaren Vale, Barossa, Frankland River, Grampians and Adelaide Hills.

Paul Henry, Wine Australia's general manager, market development, said: 'When done well, Shiraz is arguably one of Australia's greatest expressions to the world of wine.'

Paul Smith, head winemaker at Knappstein, said that the Clare Valley experiences high diurnal fluctuation, which 'traps natural acid in our grapes', and contributes to 'fine tannins'. Peter Barry, of Jim Barry Wines, agreed that the climate in Clare enabled winemakers to make 'elegant and delicate' Shiraz.

Duncan MacGillivray, based in Adelaide Hills, said that vines were planted more densely in his region than most others, at around 1,800 per acre.

Bill Hardy, from Hardy Wine Company, told the audience that it was important to remember that Shiraz first arrived in Australia in 1832, and only turned up in Western Australia during the 1950s.

Henry admitted that the challenge for the Australian wine industry was to convince UK consumers to age good Aussie Shiraz. We are trying to uncover another layer for the consumer.'

He also warned producers against upping the proportion of Viognier in their blends, claiming: 'The best Shiraz/Viogniers aren't the ones labelled 'Shiraz/Viognier'.