Fully-fledged Shiraz

Shiraz is growing up and acting more natural, shedding its unnecessary make up of excess ripeness and intrusive oak. David Ridge reviews some impressive Australian Shiraz.

Food is matched by Il Mercato.

2011 Battle of Bosworth ‘Puritan’ Shiraz McLaren Vale, SA RRP: $20 battleofbosworth.com.au Although I took me a while to warm to it – or maybe it to me – with its tight almost dusty initial mantle, this breathes and opens up to a lovely rich and savoury red of really good value. It reveals nice prune-like dark fruits and light earthiness, a bit Sangiovese-like, that dusty thing develops to dark chocolate powder and some spice or dried herb. This is very lively and that zingy, balanced fruit and savoury personality says “designed for food”. So while I was thinking about the very adaptable nature of this, that it could partner easily with light-ish, medium and even heavy Provencal and generally Mediterranean food, it will go east and through to Asia no worries, I wasn’t taking much notice that this was made without addition of any preservative; that is, made and bottled without things like sulphur dioxide – but it might be of interest to you?

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Salumi Australia Caccatorini Producer: Salumi Australia RRP: $25.50 per kg Origin: Northern Rivers Region, NSW salumi.com.au Salumi Australia, founded by Massimiliano Scalas, is an Australian owned and operated boutique smallgoods manufacturing business, located near Byron Bay. Based close to local farmers, considered to produce some of the finest pork in the world, Salumi products are artisan products, handmade with no flavourings or unnecessary additives. This small rustic salami, is cured in links of six. Rich in aromas of black pepper, wine and garlic, results in a smooth flavour and soft texture on the pallet when hand carved and eaten with crusty bread.

2010 Tarrawarra J Block Shiraz Yarra Valley, Vic RRP: $35 tarrawarra.com.au The Yarra Valley, on the outskirts of Melbourne is generally associated with (top) Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but it has a strong history in ‘warmer’ climate varieties as well. Of these, Cabernet Sauvignon – and the other Bordeaux varieties – have been historically more lauded than Shiraz, but this one shows what’s possible. There are plenty of (much) older Shiraz vines than these, dotted around the Yarra too, but the radiant red fruits of cherry and raspberry, a little spice and some skillful notes of high-class oak along with a lush palate of some length, tend to keep your attention and satisfaction, no worries. A dash of the Rhone white Roussanne gives just a little complexing support. The other really strong features of this, apart from the vivid fruit, is its balance and a gorgeous ultra fine and tingling finish, which elevate this, in typical Tarrawarra style, into the higher levels of wine.

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Onetik Chebris Producer: Onetik Milk type: Sheep and goat RRP: $64.90 per kg Origin: Pyrenees, France This cheese is made with a blend of goat and ewe’s milk, aged for three months. It is creamy and smooth. The rind is thick and yellow; the pate is ivory coloured and has a smooth, slightly oily texture. The flavour is sweet, creamy and refined with hints of olive, hazelnut and fig, finishing with a cleansing acidity from the goat’s milk.

2009 Michael Hall Stonewell Valley Shiraz Barossa Valley, SA RRP: $40 michaelhallwines.com Dense yes, but not a little ponderous, this Shiraz from the Barossa ‘floor’ is a slightly brawnier brother to the Eden Valley version from this maker, reviewed in the last edition. It shows both the pedigree of its mature vineyard near Seppeltsfield and the fuller, layered character of the Barossa proper. In fact it’s quite dense and concentrated, a ‘serious’ wine, but at the same time one easily described as fresh and elegant. It has balance and length and underpins gently juicy and persistent Barossa fruit flavours with a savoury structure and fine grip. It was only the restrained and disciplined professional in me which allowed this to go for the four days I had it open to monitor progress – rather than demolish it pretty sharp-ish. This is an immensely enjoyable and very good wine.

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Raw Materials Spanish Marinade Producer: Raw Materials – The Food Merchants RRP: $9.90 Origin: Melbourne rawmaterials.com.au Raw Materials began in 2002 with the vision of providing fantastic quality groceries to countless food lovers Australia wide. Aimed to inspire consumers to cook, entertain and enjoy eating through exceptional food with outstanding quality and value for money. The Raw Materials Spanish Marinade is what everyone inspired by Spanish food has been waiting for. A perfect blend of Bolero smoked paprika with roasted capsicum, garlic, ginger, chilli and herbs, Raw Materials have created a touch of Spain in a jar. Best of all, it’s simple to use – pour over meat or vegetables, marinate and cook. Fantastic as a base for your paella!

2007 Henschke ‘Hill of Grace’ Shiraz Eden Valley, SA RRP: $600 henschke.com.au It was with some excitement that I tasted a selection of Hill of Grace wines recently to celebrate 50 years of it being made. Somehow over the years (I think) I have tasted every one of these world-famous reds, drawn from a single vineyard in which some of the ‘inhabitants’ date back to 1860. To get straight to the point – and although this was clearly way too young in the context of a wine that historically develops so slowly, and for so long – and even in the company of some decades old comparisons, this is great red wine. It is ultra dense now, a good legacy of a restricted vintage yield, but it fair glows with fresh, deep and swirling red fruits of blackberry and cherry, with some richer but not dominant compote elements, followed by spice notes of pepper and anise. The palate is predictably long and so fine. This was so distinctive and evocative of its forebears that I barely need to refer to notes to remember it.

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Salumi Aaustralia Chorizo Producer: Salumi Australia RRP: $25.50 per kg Origin: Northern Rivers Region, NSW salumi.com.au Soft semi-cured Spanish sausage seasoned with garlic and smokey Spanish paprika, giving Salumi’s Chorizo its characteristic flavour and distinguishes it from other sausages. Fantastically aromatic when lightly grilled or it can be chopped and added to sauces, stews, pastas or rice dishes.

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