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Today we are going down under to the land of Australia and Shiraz. When people first think of Australian wine, they probably think of cute labels with fun animals on them. This is thanks to the mass-produced wines of Yellow Tail, Little Boomey, Little Penguin and others. There was a huge influx of wine from Australia in the 2000's that was primarily well marketed, low-quality wine. These "brands" have given Australian wine a poor reputation, when there is actually so much amazing wine coming from this area.
The primary grape is obviously Shiraz. Quick side note, Shiraz and Syrah are the exact same grape. They just have different names in the different areas they come from. Most old-world countries call the grape Syrah, while many new world countries go with the name Shiraz. This grape tends to be rich, ripe and bold. It is the most planted grape in Australia.
I have two wines I want to feature from Australia today. Both are Shiraz based, but each blended with another grape. One with Grenache, another very classic grape grown in Australia, and the other with Saperavi(?!?!?!?!). I will get into that one in a moment.
First, we have the 2017 Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz/Grenache. The Glaetzer family has been part of the Barossa Valley and its viticulture history since 1888. They make a wide range of amazing wines and are one of Australia's top wineries. This wine is a blend of about 70/30 Shiraz to Grenache. It has two 90+ ratings from Robert Parker and Vinous. Antonio Galloni of Vinous describes this wine excellently, "A perfumed bouquet evokes ripe dark berries, candied flowers and licorice, along with hints of cracked pepper and cured tobacco. Fleshy blackberry, cherry-cola and floral pastille flavors show very good depth as well as energy and spicy lift. The clinging finish features fine-grained tannins and repeating floral and licorice notes." This is a very classic style Australian wine that is an amazing value from one of the top wineries in Australia.
Secondly, we have the 2019 Hugh Hamilton Black Ops Shiraz/Saperavi. The Hamilton's have also been a part of the Australia viticulture scene since the mid 1800's. In 1837 Hugh’s great great grandfather Richard emigrated to the new colony of South Australia and planted Australia’s first wine grapes. They say that every family has a "black sheep" and in this family Hugh is that. His wines are far from ordinary, and this wine is a perfect example. It begins with the classic grape of Australia, Shiraz, but then he blends in about 40% of something called Saperavi! This is an extremely rare grape variety that I am sure almost no one has ever tried. It is one of the most ancient grape varieties in the world. It is primarily grown in the country of Georgia. Saperavi grapes produce very deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging. It is an extractive wine with a characteristic bouquet, a harmonious taste, and pleasant astringency. This particular wine has loads of dark fruits, black tea and earthiness. It is exceptionally rich and full, with phenomenal depth and drive. An extremely unique wine from a very unique winery. Australian wine critic James Halliday, Australia's version of Robert Parker, has given this wine numerous 90+ ratings over the past four years. This is definitely a wine to try if you are adventurous!
Once you get past the cute animals and bright colored labels and get to the real producers of Australian wine, you realize the amazing quality that is being produced down under. These are just two examples of the wonderful value you can find from wines from Australia. I highly suggest you give them both a try!
Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz / Grenache 2017
Hugh Hamilton Black Ops Shiraz Saperavi 2019