Shiraz - A favourite varietal of mine and one synonymous to Australian wine drinkers.
Shiraz or Syrah has paved its way in Oz as the most planted variety across most, if not all wine regions here in Australia. With styles ranging from medium body Northern Rhône Syrah styles seen as “Old World”, from cooler climates regions with a style of dark berries, floral bouquet often seen as lean and elegant to the high tannin “New World” bold Shiraz black pepper and spice often associated with the fruit concentrate.
There seems to be a style and region for every wine lover yet despite our love of Australian Shiraz we have a local goldmine of voluptuous Queensland Shiraz that has a history of grape growing and wine making since the mid 1800’s across the Granite Belt.
A region which sits around 1000 metres above sea level their vines are treated to distinct seasons which include a combination of cold winters with the occasional snow and warm summers day with heat relief in the evening. These climates with the combination of the 200 million-year-old granite soils creates the perfect recipe for premium Shiraz/Syrah.
At the heart of our local wine region, we have Ballandean Estate who have paved the way for adding Queensland to the Australian wine region map. A winery rich in family values dating back to 1932 and now run by “The Father of Queensland Wine” - Angelo Puglisi. I had my first personal experience with Ballandean Estate Wine last year as I was a part of a small group of USQ (University of Southern Queensland) students from the local wine college studying viticulture and wine making, where we were welcomed to attend the early morning machine harvesting of their Shiraz. At the time I wasn’t familiar with Angelo, however, I remember him in an old ute overseeing the mornings pickings with charisma. I myself dappled in picking the end rows of Shiraz which aren’t accessible to the machine harvesters and still require hand picking.
From Ballandean Estate they produce their prized “Opera Block” Shiraz, this Shiraz is made from 100% Ballandean Estate fruits from vines planted in 1968. It’s opulent and elegant with a mixture of talented wine making skills from Dylan Rhymer and the wealth of viticultural knowledge from Angelo sings praises from wine drinking enthusiasts.
Just up the road from Ballandean Estate lies a not-so-hidden winery, Hidden Ceek. Despite only having been established in the late 90’s this estate is one that regularly pops up in publication magazines - The Gourmet Traveller Wine edition, The Halliday Guide which lists Hidden Creek as 4.5 star winery along being awarded Queensland Winery of the Year in 2018. Wine is made by local award-winning winemaker Andy Williams with his wine focus on the terroir of the region, marrying climate and soil to produce distinctive wines that are influenced by Mediterranean varieties. I recently opened Hidden Creek’s 2018 Syrah and 2018 Shiraz to compare styles.
Syrah is 98% local Shiraz grapes with 2% Viognier blended, this style sings “Old World” - youthful mixed dark fruits, a lashing of mulberry being the dominant berry, soft silky tannins.
The Shiraz is definitely heartier and bold, what our Australian Shiraz is known for. I’ve been wowed with dried fruits with almost a fortified essence layered in white peppers, sprinkling of spice and audacious medium tannins.
Both had their own characteristics/style, hard to favour one over the other.
A few other mentions of Queensland Shiraz that deserve a place in your wine fridge or need accompany your next dinner with friends:
- Barambah Wine - First Grade Shiraz
A South Burnett Winery that has Brisbane’s very own Master of Wine - Peter Scudamore-Smith lending his experience & expertise.
- Terra Di Granito - Shiraz
This boutique wine is made in a micro-winery from 100% Ballandean grapes by wine industry professional Peter Wise.
- Symphony Hill - Reserve Shiraz
Producing premium wines that receive international recognition with a wine maker who is a 4th generation grape grower hailing from South Africa, Abraham de Klerk. Enough said! They have also received a Silver medal for their 2019 Shiraz at the recent Royal Queensland Wine Awards.
- Other amazing Shiraz producers (amongst the many!) in the region include Ridgemill Estate, Pyramids Road and Jester Hill.
I hope you enjoy a Shiraz this evening and one from our very own state!