Showing posts with label South Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Australia. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Australian Winemaker Helps Fire Victims

Australia's recent trouble with wildfires - 42 of them the last time I checked, 17 burning out of control - have prompted an outpouring of love from around the world.  It has also prompted at least one Aussie winemaker to donate the proceeds of the pouring they do in their tasting room to help in the effort. 

Two Hands Wine is donating, for a two-month span, the take from their Cellar Door tasting fees to the victims of the Cudlee Creek fires near Adelaide.

Publicist Donna White tells me that Australian Red Cross has, since July, assisted more than 18,600 people affected by the fires.  The New South Wales-based Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc., Australia's largest wildlife rescue organization, is accepting donations to fund the rescue and care of animals affected by the fires. Learn more at

Two Hands Wine makes a bottling which they call Angels' Share Shiraz.  Medieval winemakers believed that angels watched over the wines, and that they took a share as payment.  It's a reference to the small amount of wine that evaporates from barrels while the wine is aging.

The Two Hands Angels' Share Shiraz 2018 was made from McLaren Vale fruit, in what the winery calls "a true Australian style that will appeal to both angels and mortals alike."  During the 16 days of maceration, the wine was pumped over three times a day to get the most color, flavor and tannic structure from the grapes.  Once the wine was in barrels, malolactic fermentation occurred.  The wine was unfined and unfiltered before bottling.  The wine aged for 14 months in oak which was 12% new American, with the balance being one to eight-year-old American and French oak.  Alcohol is somewhat typical for a wine down under at 14.2% abv.  The retail price sticker reads $30.

This wine is delicious.  It offers a nose of black and blue berries, shoe leather and a hint of black olives.  It’s a deep, rich bouquet.  The flavors are similarly dark, with berries leading the way again.  Black pepper and a nutmeg note also appear, with the fruit staying long on the finish.  There is a good tannic structure, easily enough for a steak or a beef stew.  The oak regimen was nearly all previously-used barrels, so the oak effect is quite nice, not a bit overdone.  Actually, the oak does exactly what oak is supposed to in a wine - accent it and highlight the grapes, not bulldoze them.

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Australian Shiraz To Hold With Both Hands

Terlato Wines tells us that Australia exports more wine to the U.S. than France, but that's a claim for which I could not find any corroboration.  In fact, the wines from Down Under appear to be the fourth most imported by the U.S. in dollars, behind Italy, France and New Zealand.  Perhaps they were thinking of exports to the U.K.  In any case, Americans are drinking more Australian wine than vice versa, from a percentage standpoint.

Australia's wine industry dates back to the 18th century, when vine cuttings were first brought to the continent from Europe and South Africa.  The country has no indigenous grapes of its own.  However, they do refer to Syrah as Shiraz, which has proven so popular that some other winemakers around the world have adopted the name.  Shiraz is the most widely planted grape in Australia.

Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2018

Terlato made available to me several Shiraz wines produced under their Two Hands label.  The 2018 Gnarly Dudes is 100% Shiraz, made from Barossa Valley grapes.  That wine region is in the state of South Australia, near the city of Adelaide. 

Gnarly Dudes was aged in French oak barrels for a year, and only 13% of them were new.  The remaining wood was contained in puncheons and hogsheads that were anywhere from one to six years old.  The wine's alcohol content is somewhat restrained, at 13.8% abv, and it retails for $33.

This is one big, bold Shiraz.  The wine colors up as inky black as night and smells of black fruit, leather and meat.  On the palate, it's a large time as well, with plums and chocolate flavors laced with licorice.  Oak is pronounced, but it seems about right considering how brawny this wine drinks.  Tannins are somewhat mellow, however, so it goes down easily.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Aussie Cab Means Business

The South Australian winery Shirvington was founded in 1996 by Paul and Lynne Shirvington and their sons.  A plot of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines became their first vineyard, Redwind.  The red clay and limestone soil is in Willunga, just south of McLaren Vale.  There they grow Cab, Shiraz and Mataro, better known as MourvĂ©dre.

Peter Bolte takes care of the vines, while Kim Jackson lends her Sonoma and Burgundy trained knowledge to crafting the wine.  The 2014 Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon tips the alcohol scale at 13.5% abv and it retails for about $32.

This extremely dark wine offers a nose of rough-hewn blackberry with a tiny wisp of freshly sanded wood.  It's a fairly muscular package of aromas, and that heft carries onto the palate.  It's a pleasing bunch of flavors, but I wouldn't call any of them elegant.  This a Cab for a steak that's been bad and needs corporal punishment.  Dark fruit plays for the front row with some oak spice for support.  The fruit is fairly pure, though, and has an interesting dark flair which I find captivating.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Australian Old-Vine Shiraz

The Kay Brothers - Herbert and Frederick - formed a winery in 1890 in the Australian town of McLaren Vale.  The area is south of Adelaide in South Australia, right next to St. Vincent Gulf.  Their Amery Vineyard produces grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nero d' Avola, Grenache, Mataro, Muscat Blanc and a little thing they like to call Shiraz.

The grapes for this wine come from Block 6 of the vineyard, hence the catchy name.  The winery says that Block 6 was planted in 1892, which makes the vines well over 120 years old.  The process of establishing the winery was meticulously recorded in a family diary, some of which is available to read on their website.  The brothers put their backs into running the winery for 57 years, before death claimed them just one year apart.  The following generations were led by Cud Kay, and now Colin KayDuncan Kennedy is the Kay Brothers' senior winemaker.

The 2014 Kay Brothers Amery Vineyards Block 6 Shiraz is the 32nd wine in the flagship series.  The grapes were handpicked from those century-and-a-quarter-old vines.  The 3½ acres which make up Block 6 have varied soil which the vines call home.  The winery says the earth ranges from red loam to heavy clay to gravelly alluvial soils. They say the underlying "South Maslin Sands" geology is extremely complex, with layers of glauconite, limestone, sandstone and siltstone.  Which translates to minerals, minerals, minerals.

The juice for the wine spent ten days on the skins after pressing for maximum color extraction.  Aging took place over a nearly two-year span, in French and American oak barrels, 40% of which were new.  The oak plays a supporting role to the fruit in the Block 6 wine, as it should.  Alcohol hits 14% abv and at $95 retail, the wine is by far the most expensive in the Kay Brothers line.

This Australian Shiraz has four years of age on it.  The dark wine displays a nose rich with flinty minerals, pretty flowers and black and blue fruit.  The palate shows similar, but a little heavier on the fruit.  Still, the earth is plainly there along with cigar box, sage and licorice.  There's a zippy acidity and some fairly youthful tannins which invite a pairing with your favorite steak.

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Sparkling Shiraz And Australian Rules

"Sorry about the girl."  That's how the email started.  Paringa WinesDavid Hickinbotham wrote me over the weekend after my article about his Sparkling Shiraz appeared on Now And Zin Friday.  I had mentioned how Australian Rules Football had turned a momentary attraction into disappointment.  He apparently understood how someone could have such a strong interest in the sport.  The girl is mostly forgotten, but I still like Australian Rules.  And sparkling Shiraz.

He explained that he has attended the Grand Final, the Australian Rules version of the Super Bowl, since 1971.  He's also been growing grapes that long, and making wine for export since 1999.  Hickinbotham is understandably proud of his Paringa and 3 Rings Barossa labels, with both having stirred positive comment from reviewers, including me.  He told me that he started Paringa at about the same time another winery, in Victoria, came up with the idea.  Both used a local landmark of the same name as their naming beacon, a town in his case and a road in the other's. 

Hickinbotham told me that his family's connection with Australian Rules Football is his great grandfather Dave Hickinbotham, pictured from the Australian Football website, who played for Geelong.  That team has won nine Grand Finals since 1925, and his father, Alan, played a handful of games with them.  Alan was a successful businessman, a less successful politician and a well-remembered AFL player and, later, coach.  South Adelaide renamed their home field, Hickinbotham Oval, after him.

David has informed me that I should schedule a trip to Australia during the season, and he promises to take me to a game.  I hope it's at Hickinbotham Oval, and I hope we can bring in his sparkling Shiraz to the game.

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