Tag Archives: shiraz

New World Wine vs Old World Wine Compared

Rhone — Guigal Gigondes Rouge 2011

E. Guigal Chateau

E. Guigal Chateau

The Rhone Valley, known as Cotes du Rhone, stretches from the town of Lyon all the way to Avignon, 125 miles to the south.  In the north, fine wine of outstanding quality is to be found and in the southern reaches, a great variety of wines exist —some fine and some not so outstanding.  Unlike many French wine regions, the climate is more constant.  The soils are stoney and mainly granite based.  It is an ideal climate for wine grapes.  Mainly red wines are produced and Guigal is one of the prominent names that is easy to find at the wine store.

The Guigal Gigondes Rouge is a good expression of the Grenache grape.  An intense purple color, clean and bright, meets the eye with beautiful appeal.  There are layers of flavor: peach, apricot, licorice, toast, and cedar with a touch of arugula and earth in a racy structure.  Smooth tannins, moderate acids and a long finish conclude the interesting journey.  Minerality forms this wine’s foundation and signals its origin.  It is a food wine and a pleasant diversion from some of the New World wines.

Rating 90

Two Hands Cellar Door

Two Hands Cellar Door

Compare what the Guigal Grenache offers to a Shiraz from McClarenvale: Fleurieu South Australia, Two Hands Angel’s Share 2012.

A rich, deep, gorgeous nose introduces this wine with a drum roll.  Eucalyptus, sage, blackcurrant, juicy red fruits, sweet tobacco, vanilla, milk chocolate, cream and leather are among the aromas that assail your senses with an obvious appeal to angels and humans.  It is a deep magenta and well extracted.  Everything holds together in a soft, silky texture.

If you want a luscious gustatory experience, no food is necessary but grilled meats would round out the taste.  These two wines are very different.  Form your own judgements and remember: we are not comparing apples with apples, but we are comparing two great experiences — one from the Old World and one from the New World.

Rating 92

Part 4: Compare Thomas Goss Shiraz from McLaren Vale

Part 4 of a 5-part series)

Two Shiraz well worth your enjoyment:

First: Thomas Goss Shiraz, 2013, McLaren Vale Shiraz

Thomas Goss 2013 Shiraz from McLaren Vale

Thomas Goss 2013 Shiraz from McLaren Vale

Shiraz is no longer the fruity and, at times, over-fruited wine that is immediately consumable, cheap, and lacking in complexity.  Barossa changed that image for those who have had the fortune to taste their impressive fullness and undeniable quality.

The nose of this Thomas Gross Shiraz immediately suggests the eucalyptus and black pepper of so many Australian Shirazes. Some see this “greenness” as herbs typically emerging in the wines from cooler climates, especially those with cooler nights and hot days that South Australia provides.  But this wine is young (2013) and should unfold with impressive displays of elegance and delicate aromas.  It is a little closed, so buy and keep it for a couple of years.  There is a savoriness from the aromas of an overall layer of cooked red meat blended with black cherries and plums, giving it a promising complexity.  A fresh acid keeps the wine from being too rich and heavy.  Medium tannins are not dominant and this full-bodied wine is a little off balance with dominating warmth on the finish from its 14.5% alcohol.

Tasted with Gruyere cheese, the match is impressive for the way the wine is enhanced by the cheese and the way it emphasizes the hints of herbs.  Shiraz can be experienced in very many styles and the expression of Shiraz in McLaren Vale is lighter, with more finesse than the wines of Barossa Valley.  Only age on this wine will tell the story of its lasting worth.

Rating:  90, with a possible climb as it unfolds.

Emotional rating?  Exciting!  Hoping to taste it again as it develops.

Availability:  Available for about $15.  Try www.winesearcher.com to find a source near you.

Part 3: Syrah and Shiraz — More Facts to Improve Your Tasting Experience

(Part 3 of a 5-part series.)

Syrah (called Shiraz in Australia and elsewhere) may have been introduced to the Barossa valley red wineas early as 1847 and it has emerged to produce a version of this grape, distinct and showing the influence of terroir on wine.  Shiraz can claim with some authority to be truly an Australian wine, able to stand with the world’s best if judged by quality standards.  Shiraz, like Syrah, is a wine that shows depth and length as well as any other red wine and a distinctiveness and complexity along with its well-known affinity with oak from all regions.  Tasting the same fruit in different barrels, as I have been privileged to do on several occasions, can be a revelation of its affinity to oak and its subtle expressiveness of its oak home.

In the Old World, wine was a matter of place and tradition, but in the hands of the technical Aussies, it was a matter of numbers and winemaking expertise.  They make wines with technical flawlessness and are now turning more and more to experiment with the art in winemaking.  Realizing their potential and the opportunity for a marketing ploy, Max Schubert named their best example Grande Hermitage, from which the name Hermitage has now been dropped in deference to its French home.  The Syrah/Shiraz grape has become an international sensation and star.  It hold’s its identifying flavors wherever it is planted and yet reveals some of the distinctiveness of its local terroir.  The surge of this grape’s popularity is in the Languedoc and around the world, its attractiveness has also been demonstrated.

The juice can be thick and some winemakers complain of how it gums up their equipment.  The skin can hold a high percentage of anthocyanins — the healthy good stuff.  The taste is brawny too.  A little in a blend will deepen the color and shore up a thin wine, so watch for many varietals to have a little Syrah added for this purpose.  Until the mid 19th century, Syrah was added to some of the higher priced Bordeaux wines to strengthen them a little.  Does that surprise you?

Widespread Interest

Syrah/Shiraz has been planted in almost all wine regions of the world, including Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and in the US (in Texas, Colorado, Mendocino County, Napa Valley, San luis Obispo County,  Santa Barbara County, Sierra Foothills, Sonoma County, Temecula, and Washington State) to name a few regions.

Fruity or Stern and Hard?  

Both!  The typical Northern Rhone Syrah needs about five years before it can be approached and appreciated, but modern winemaking can make even the densest versions soft and fruity, ready for immediate consumption.

Here’s Something You may not Know

The more acid in the juice, the redder the color of the wine due to the anthocyanins changing form.

Syrah, Part 1: Marvel at Two Great Expressions of this Wine… 

(Part 1 of a 5-part series)

Today and in the next four articles, we will take a look at Syrah/Shiraz, comparing samples from both the New World and the Old World as we travel from Australia, to France and the United States.  You may prefer to read first, then buy samples and taste all wines, comparing with the articles as your guide.  However, you choose, enjoy the experience of the wine!  Cheers!

Wine map of Australia

Wine map of Australia


Set two wines in front of you of that are roughly the same price.  One should be a Shiraz from the Barossa Valley in Australia and the other a Syrah, preferably from the upper Rhone Valley in France.  If the wines are approximately equal in price, the comparison will work.  First, pour a glass of Barossa Shiraz and sip as you read the following description.  (For those with who want a good value on a tighter budget, settle for a Cotes du Rhone

Wine map of France

Wine map of France

and a less expensive Barossa Shiraz.)

Shiraz — Barossa Valley, Australia

Barossa Valley is Shiraz.  This South Australian valley has made a unique contribution to the grape’s fame worldwide.  The combination of its 150-year-old bush vines, dry farmed (19 inches average rainfall per annum) and also un-grafted (no phylloxera in the Barossa Valley), cannot be found anywhere else on the globe and gives us a look at the grape’s stunning possibilities when cultivated “down under.”  This new home, which couldn’t be further away from its traditional old home in the Rhone Valley of France, has created a permanent place for itself among the famed regions in the world of wine.

Barossa Shiraz shows itself as a standout for the grape and the same is true of Hermitage in the upper Rhone.  In Barossa, the wine estates line both sides of the Para River for approximately 20 miles and spill over the east ranges into the Eden Valley, which is also regarded as part of Barossa.  At altitudes of 750’ to around 1,800’ in the east ranges, variations of style can be expected.  This is a hot region — however, hotter on the valley floor of course — and, therefore, it is no surprise that Barossa Shiraz is bold, full, and richer in the valley than up on the hills.  This grape loves the heat in both Barossa and the upper Rhone Valley.  Fermentation typically takes place in American Oak barrels, resulting in a fruity, chocolatey wine with attractive spice.  Australian winemakers love the forwardness of the American Oak for their Shiraz.

Because consumers like you are busy comparing Barossa Shiraz with the Rhone Valley’s Syrah, some Barossa winemakers are turning to French Oak, which can give you a truer comparison of the grape’s offerings in the two famous terroirs. This trend is increasing in the Valley.  If vinified to age well, it presents a challenging mouthful when young.   Try Schild Estate 2012 Shiraz, Barossa Valley which has been aged in both French and American Oak.

This Shiraz Powerfully Stimulates the Emotions!

IMG_1525Henry’s Drive Padthaway Shiraz, 2009

A Winery to Follow

From Australia this wine arrives loaded with chocolate and complimented with leather, raspberry, red currant, licorice, and black pepper in a soft, luxuriant package.  It is full of pleasant pepper on the palate with fine, disciplined tannins on a balanced finish that lasts and lasts — a wine that is rich, round, and full for all those who love fullness that isn’t sickly heavy with fruit .  Acids that excite and stimulate salivation and a very smooth mouthfeel add to the taste-value of this wine.  At around $33 USD, it is worth every penny.  It’s not extravagant for that special occasion, such as when the snow falls in Colorado, the fire is burning, and you snuggle up with nothing better to do!

Read the interesting story on the label of memorable days gone by and follow this winery in days ahead if you are a fan or want to be a fan of excellent Australian Shiraz.

Padthaway wine region is located in the southern tip of South Australia, which is known as the Limestone Coast, near the famous red Coonawarra vineyards.  In the new Australian wine laws, the wine must contain at least 85% of the variety (in this case, Shiraz) and if named, the vintage (2009) and region (Padthaway) hold to the same requirements.  Major wineries, like Lindemans, source some of their wines from this distinguished area that was established in the 1960’s.  You should begin to look for Padthaway wines and note their distinctiveness.  Padthaway Shiraz has been recognized as very good to great.  It is a vast area and the smaller wineries, like Henry’s Drive, are bringing the best out of this newer wine goldmine.

Rating: 93

Emotional rating:  100

Available from wine.com when it is not sold out!  Search for it.

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my books, “Experiencing Colorado Wine, Volume 1 – The Dry Red Wines ” and “Experiencing Colorado Wine, Volume 2 – The Whites and Rosés.”  Volume 1 also provides descriptions of the pairing of several Colorado wines with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.


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