January 20-Australian Shiraz

While the grape is more commonly known as Syrah, some new world wine producing countries (countries outside of Europe), have adopted the name Shiraz. Shiraz, when cultivated with care, creates extremely bold, tannic, fruity wines. Unfortunately, a majority of the plantings in Australia are used to produce inexpensive, low quality ‘jug wines’ (brands like Yellow Tail, Layer Cake, and 19 Crimes spring to mind). As a result of these poor representations, Shiraz/Syrah has struggled to gain ground on the more prominent grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. This is especially sad considering Shiraz and Cabernet both pair well with many of the same foods, like lamb, steak, hard cheeses, braised meats, and hamburgers to name a few!

The wine I selected this week is a basic Lehmann Shiraz from the Barossa Valley region of Southern Australia. The Lehmann name has been around wine for decades, starting when Peter Lehmann began working in a winery lab after leaving school at the age of 17. It was here he met a winemaker, Rudi Kronberger, who became his mentor. In 1960, Lehmann became a winemaker himself then went on to found Peter Lehmann Wines in 1979. The company was sold in 2003. Presently, it is owned by Casella Family Brands, which also owns Yellow Tail. Wine, as with so many other industries, has seen its own globalization over the last few decades as large firms have bought up significant portions of the market, condensing ownership of many well known wineries to just a handful of corporations but that is a topic for another day!

Today was the maiden voyage of my new Coravin. It’s a device with a needle and argon gas that allows a wine drinker to just pour a single glass of wine from a bottle so you can enjoy a bottle for months rather than a few nights (or drinking it all in one night!). The reason I mention this is because yet again, I made a huge mess in my freshly cleaned kitchen when it shot wine out like a fire extinguisher on my very first attempt using it. When I did this, I saw just how much of a deep, inky ruby liquid the 2017 Lehmann Portrait Shiraz was. Slow, pale red legs trickled down the sides of the glass once I finally got enough wine poured to swirl. This developed wine emanates a bouquet of baked blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, and plums. They’re all combined with a touch of vanilla. Upon swishing it in my mouth, I was a bit disappointed by how subtle the fruit notes were on the palate. The primary flavor I got was dried tobacco followed by vanilla then baked blackberries. On the lengthy finish, it evolved into tar and a bit of bitter black currant leaves. This wine overall was disjointed. 

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See you again next Wednesday, if not sooner!


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