What are the disappointments from South Africa? To be fair I haven’t aged much SA syray/shiraz, but what I have (Foundry and Boekenhoutskloof mostly) has been excellent.
I recall getting some very good examples about 15-20 years ago at reasonable prices. I particularly enjoyed Henschke’s Euphonium (predominantly Shiraz rather than 100%), but the price of it had rocketed in the UK…currency moves plus it became pretty popular. I see it’s A$60 at the winery…
L&W have a fairly large selection of older Aus Shiraz on their broking list.
We went back to the Barossa 2 and bit years ago and it was crazy how the wines were far better balanced. So many of them falling into that 13.5-14% abv bracket and even that alcohol was well disguised.
They were warm climate wines, a lot of them coming from old vines but just so much more drinkable than previous.
We had 1 wine that was a 2006 Jim Barry ‘PB’ (I think it was Shz/Cab?) 15.5% that tasted hot, porty and raisined. In the 3 weeks we were there it stuck out like a sore thumb.
I think the move away from the over blown reds is down to a few things.
- The wet 2011 vintage, winemakers couldn’t even get to 14.5% and it was almost a considered shift that these wines now don’t need to be 15% to show their sense of place.
- The emergence of Pinot Noir in Australia where abv’s are typically on par with Burgundy’s 12.5-13.5% - people are enjoying more of that Medium bodied style and get scared by big abv’s. Try drinking a 15+% red in the Australian summer
- The new wave of Iberian varietals. Every winery has a Touriga / Tempranillo / Sangiovese etc these days in Australia and winemakers are making these into medium to full bodied wines and doing the same with their Shiraz by dialling back the throttle.
- No more Parker point aspirations
I still think the UK (on a more commercial (supermarket purchase) level expects their Shiraz to be big and their Chardonnay to be oaky, vanilla scented, round and soft.
Once you get away from S.E.A. and down to a more regional level, those wines are very much the minority.
2006 is a great vintage and is showing tertiary notes so if you like that then it should be drinking well. Be warned though that the shift towards lower abvs started around 2012.
2012 is a very good vintage - soft, plush, really ripe tannins and pretty accessible from the get go. I actually think 2013 is the better vintage and built for the cellar.
2018 very good of the most recent batch.
Me too. I was an enthusiast for Shiraz/Syrah from a time when it was considered a lessor variety. One of the features I liked was it’s pepperiness. However in recent I’ve stopped drinking as much Shiraz because I find the pepperiness much more dominant to such an extent I dislike it.
Earlier this year there was an item in my newspaper saying that older people were better wine tasters than younger*. The journalist based the story on research that showed changes in saliva flow as one ages increases the taste of pepper, so that older people can taste pepper in wine better than younger people.
Now, I don’t see that as sign that older people are better tasters, just that perceptions change. A wine that seemed to me balanced with a tinge of pepper now, presumably because my saliva flow has changed with age, seems unbalanced with too much pepper.
Anyway, I still have some well aged Shiraz dating from times when I loved it…
I buy a lot of wine from South Africa (and Rhone) - I’m a big fan of both.
But SAF Syrah/Shiraz just doesn’t connect with me* the way its Cabernet (& blends) do.
If I’m looking for a red from SAF I would put Cab, BDX blends, Pinot Noir, Pinotage, Cab Franc, Cinsault in front of Shiraz.
*I do have some Boekenhoutskloof Syrah from 2015 in the cellar but haven’t yet tried and have enjoyed the Foundry’s other stuff so will keep an eye out.
I’ve also heard great things about Mullineux but am yet to try - might be beyond my budget now!
I can see 2 cases of Peter Lehmann 8 Songs Barossa Shiraz 2014, that you did not mention
Good score too…
A few of his 2012 are on the L&W broking/trade list. Kind of stuck in the wrong place on it, a few rows below the rest of the Aus Shiraz.
Shouldn’t this be in the He Didn’t Like It… ?
I also tend to prefer cabernet or Bdx blends from the Cape, but I have to say that the Keermont Syrah 2012 which I had from BBR a few years ago was absolutely tremendous. By no means cheap, but it definitely held its own at that price point.
I had a bottle of this recently which was excellent. A touch of raisin on opening but really delicious with a little air. Dark fruits still dominant with plenty of secondary and tertiary notes to complexify. The marked acidity presumable helped preservation.
Suprised no one has mentioned Torbreck as they are relatively widely available and have been offered EP on here in recent years.
What a great thread. I’ve been a massive fan of aging Oz Shiraz for years and there is some real expertise and great advice here. I’m a Penfolds fan and second the shout for Bin 150 and of course St Henri. I just love the purity of the fruit without several planks of oak!
I do agree with the comment that it is getting silly money now and I think having just bought the 2017 EP, that will probably be my last case as I have quite a few bottles now. I too have a soft spot for Peter Lehmann although I am down to a few bottles of the Stonewell.
One winery that I really rate (that seems to have disappeared from the UK) is Tatachilla. I was lucky enough many years ago to get two cases of the 1998 Foundation Shiraz that won just about every top award going for that year. The only problem was I was that I drank it too early as it would probably still be evolving today!
With all this talk of Shiraz decided to pull this out for the weekend. Might be a little early but thought we need to try one of our few bottles .
Going to sit on the Penfolds, Peter Lehman and Grant Burge a bit longer.
But thinking about availability here and how it’s changed perhaps as trade tension rises between Australia and China maybe the wine companies will revisit exports to UK? It might be easier after January.
I used to drink serious quantities of Aussie shiraz but the wines, I somewhat took for granted in my earlier wine drinking days, exploded in price around the turn of the century and became way out of reach of my budget.
I’d love to have a time machine so I could my send my future self back to try them again, to see what I’d make of them now, as my tastes now prefer lighter, less extracted, less oaky wines.
Two that hit the spot for me, in recent memory, from TWS were these ( £15 and £20 respectively ( the second was a bin end reduction though )…
…I first tried the latter as part of a mixed case containing six different Victorian vineyard wines from the same producer. All of them had a distinct individuality too.
I’d happily buy more should their wines be listed again.
Edit - I think I’ve totally missed the brief as both are labelled as syrah !
It is really difficult to put across the classic phrase ‘you say tomato I say toemato’ as you can see, but you get the point.
Santa has just been (and I know one of them is a bit of a cheat in a pure Shiraz thread!)
Probably my last EP case of St Henri (and Lasagne wine for those in the know )
I bought 3 of those Jamsheed Beechworth Syrah’s for £20/bt - still got 1 left and they are brilliant. But yes I left it out of my recommendation list as it does have that more Northern Rhone stylings about it (St. Jo maybe?)
But a fantastic wine and is one of those new wave producers that spring to mind.
Maybe the fact it got bin ended shows that there isn’t a customer base for it?
I, personally would love to see more of this and many other slightly more traditional Shiraz & Cab/Shz blends.