On the eve of the Barossa Wine Show, there can be fewer places more appropriate than Appellation – The Louise to host a thought-provoking review of Australian Shiraz.

Presented as one of a subtle suite of changes to this year’s show, and aimed at providing a more informed context and perspective to the judging process,  a blind tasting of Australian Shiraz was revealed to a highly-informed panel that included media, winemakers, judges and specialist educators from the Barossa to Beijing and beyond.

BWS-Shiraz-tastingHosted and moderated by Paul Henry of Winehero Ltd, the tasting presented sixteen wines in four flights aimed at demonstrating the following themes: New Wave Shiraz; Modern Classics; Signatures and Masters. Within the the flights, wines had been chosen for their stylistic attributes, market performance and critical acclaim, and extended within and beyond the Barossa region. The flights were presented blind and only revealed after review, in order to challenge existing expectation and to foster open debate. The results were both surprising and enlightening, and provided a heightened sense of optimism and anticipation for the week ahead.

Returning panel chair and past Chairman of Judges PJ Charteris of Charteris Wines commented: “This was a great opening engagement for the region and the show, and held in the spirit of the Len Evans Tutorial tastings and the previous Landmark Australia events. Using Australia as a reference, but venturing outside of Barossa for greater diversity and challenge, it really captured how comprehensive Australian Shiraz can be, and perhaps more importantly, how much the stylistic range has – and is still – developing. Throughout the flights we were constantly prompted to rethink such fundamental considerations as picking time, oak regime, varietal composition, whole bunch inclusion and site selection. The result is a better-informed view of the possibilities and the challenges of Shiraz.”

BWS-Shiraz-tastingTyson Stelzer was equally enthusiastic: “Sometimes you need an exercise that expressly sets out to test your mettle and your assumptions. This tasting clearly shows that Shiraz is far from a single expression in Australia, and that within Barossa alone there is a range of established classics as well as new developing styles.”

Paul Henry summarised the tasting as follows: “The idea of a single frame for Shiraz – one of power, scale and intensity – has been left behind in the face of wines that all reflected the details of site, age, composition and winemaking signature, well beyond any regional or varietal caricature. While this kind of exercise can never be viewed as definitive, it should serve to challenge our reference points. This can only be a good thing for Shiraz in general, and for the Barossa in particular.”

BWS-Shiraz-tasting

Tasting Line-up:

First flight: New Wave Shiraz
2010 The Standish Wine Company Schubert Theorem  Shiraz, Barossa Valley
2010 Spinifex La Maline Shiraz, Barossa Valley
2010 Ruggabellus Archaeus Syrah blend, Barossa
2011 Jamsheed Warner Vineyard Syrah, Beechworth, Victoria

Second Flight: Modern Classics
2005 Charles Melton, Voices of Angels Shiraz, Adelaide Hills
2010 SC Pannell Shiraz, McLaren Vale
2006 Penfolds RWT Shiraz, Barossa Valley
2006 Kaesler Old Bastard Shiraz, BarossaValley

Third Flight: Signatures
2006 Torbreck RunRig Shiraz, Barossa Valley
2005 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier, Canberra District
2006 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley
1972 Orlando Shiraz, Eden Valley (Springton)

Fourth Flight: Masters
2009 Wendouree Shiraz, Clare Valley
2002 St Hallett Old Block Shiraz, Barossa
2002 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Barossa Valley
1996 Yalumba The Signature Cabernet/Shiraz, Barossa