LIQUOR / Shiraz
In the New World, Australia has led the variety to world-wide popularity via the richer and alcoholic styles of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale regions of South Australia.
In more recent times other regions within Australia including cooler areas in Victoria,Western Australia and Canberra have given new prominence to a more textured and spicy version more reminiscent of the wines of the Rhone. In New Zealand and the USA the variety is also made with increasing success in the more savoury, Syrah-like style.
Located in central Victoria, while viticulture in Heathcote began with the gold rush around 1860’s, all plantings bar one were destroyed by Phylloxera around 1900. Modern viticulture began in the 1950’s through to the 1970’s with the establishment of Paul Osicka in 1955, Jasper Hill in 1975 and Heathcote Winery in 1978. Geologically the key to Heathcote is a deposit of Cambrian red soils which begins 20 kilometres south east of the town of Heathcote proper then north running along the Mount Ida Range for 60 kilometres. The dry arid conditions make water stress an ongoing issue and necessitate irrigation, though more established vineyards with deeper roots are able to avoid these issues. Temperatures range from warm to hot summer days with cool through cold nights idea for the production of full bodied red grape varieties such as shiraz, and most notably of recent history Sangiovese.
Shiraz from mature dry grown vineyards is typically full bodied, dense, mouth filling with fruit profiles of blackberry, black and red cherry, leather, spice and liquorice with mouth coating density and ripe soft tannins which age gracefully. Outstanding producers include Jasper Hill, Red Eagle, Greenstone and Yabby Lake.
Sangiovese and Nebbiolo have met with recent success in Heathcote. Chalmers wines have established a number of Heathcote vineyards with a range of varieties indigenous to Italy. Greenstone, a venture between David Gleave MW, Tuscan winemaker Alberto Antonini and former Brown Brothers viticulturist Mark Walpole, established plantings of Sangiovese, Syrah and mourvèdre on the Cambrian soils. They believe the Heathcote climate is perfect for Sangiovese, with close climatic conditions to Tuscany and many of the best Heathcote Sangiovese are produced from Greenstone Vineyard fruit. Outstanding producers include Greenstone, Vinea Marson and Foster e Rocco.
The Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson MW
James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia, James Halliday