Shiraz. We know it and we love it. But the next time you reach for it, why not think about exploring shiraz and all its remarkable guises showcased throughout New South Wales?
New South Wales Shiraz in All Its Glory
By Shanteh Wale | Head Sommelier, Quay
Shiraz was one of the first varieties planted in Australia. Recognised as an icon of Australia, with more hectares under vine than any other, it’s no secret we love our shiraz. The Australian domestic wine market accounts for more than one-third of all Australian wine sales by volume; go you good thing! Shiraz is a no brainer, if you are after a crowd pleaser. And for that reason, we see the variety represented in many forms. From everyday quaffers to prized bottles for special occasions, we drink it blended with grenache and mataro or as a classic partnership with cabernet sauvignon. We drink it chilled and sparkling and, heck these days, we even drink it as part of a soured style ale.
Shiraz is made in every region in Australia which means we are spoiled for choice. I’d like to think we are extremely fortunate but then again sometimes, when faced with abundant choices, it can be overwhelming. The outstanding quality of New South Wales shiraz means you don’t have to look far to find an exceptional example, often with a price point that’s more than affordable.
New South Wales has an extreme diversity of terroirs and climates; 6 regions that produce an abundance of styles. Cool climate regions like Canberra district are forging forward with their aromatic, perfumed and elegant flavours with Nick O’ Leary capturing all manner of red fruits and white pepper in his 2018 Heywood Shiraz. Lerida Estate, nestled at the foot of the Cullerin Range at Lake George, is a must stop for their café fares and 2017 Shiraz Viognier which showcases perfectly ripe cherries, liquorice and a svelte velvety texture.
More moderate climates can take you to the renowned Hunter Valley, home to Australia’s oldest wine growing region and over 150 wine producers; a destination for multiple visits per year, as if you needed the excuse. The 2017, 2018 and 2019 vintages were showstoppers and take up a good portion of my Vintecs at Quay Restaurant, with the longevity of the region’s wines undeniable. Andrew Thomas’ 2019 Sweetwater Shiraz from a single vineyard in Belford is alluring with purple florals and a tightly knit tannin frame that carries the red and blueberries for days. Vinden Wines have the spread of traditional and experimental shiraz with Angus Vinden a good example of how the region is constantly reinventing and growing.
In Southern New South Wales winemakers like Nick Spencer support small growers and produce some of the most exciting and confident wine in the state. His self-assured skill for red blends are a nod to the wines of the 50’s and 60’s, and demonstrate the high quality of fruit in some emerging regions. Nick produces bottle after bottle of sheer delight with fruit from Gundagai and Hilltops in his regional range. The 2018 Medium Dry Red walks the line of finesse and power, substance and frame. I’ve enjoyed this wine on a picnic with stuffed red peppers and it's equally enjoyable with some finely prepared quail and cherry jus.
Head out to Central West New South Wales for more than racing as Bathurst District is home to Renzaglia Wines, where Mark and son Sam are producing small quantities of remarkable Shiraz. The 2016 Renzaglia Mt Panorama Estate blew my socks off in a recent tasting with its fresh and vibrant black fruit and dark brooding savoury spices.
With the spectrum of climates and expressions of this hero red variety, it’s safe to say shiraz has a place at any table at almost any time throughout a meal or standing alone. Experiencing New South Wales through the lens of shiraz has taught me that my state has an abundance of landscapes and potential. New South Wales has always been synonymous with quality shiraz and now more than ever before is delivering. The benchmarks for New South Wales Shiraz has never been higher and the future has never been more promising.