Not long after moving to Western Australia from the Barossa Valley, and fresh from making some truly wonderful shiraz wines while winemaking at St Hallett, some of the most complex and high quality shiraz wines that I was seeing in Western Australia were grown in the Frankland River sub-region of the Great Southern wine region.
As the Frankland River sub-region is quite a distance from the south coast of Western Australia, the inland climatic conditions of warm days and cool nights provides ideal conditions for shiraz to be grown The lean, gravelly granitic loam soils and undulating terrain, delivers shiraz that is quite distinctive to Frankland River with a mix of white pepper along with riper blueberry and blackberry flavours, and in warmer years more cherry and plum flavours.
What’s Different About our Shiraz:
The way we handle our shiraz ferments is very labour intensive, but the results in terms of colour and flavour extraction is well worth the hard work. We ferment our shiraz in open topped fermenters, with daily hand plunging, followed by draining off skins into a tank, then returning onto skins with lots of splashing and aeration. We also barrel ferment a portion of the wine to add extra complexity.
Once a day during the active part of ferment, after draining off skins, a portion of the shiraz ferment is returned into two new French or American barrels to ferment, with the balance being returned back onto the skins in the fermenters. This process is repeated every day for the next 5 to 6 days. The wine completes fermentation through to dryness on skins in both the open topped fermenter and in the barrels, then it is pressed off through our basket press.
We then mature our shiraz for 2 years in a mix of a new through to 6 year old barrels which are a mix of mainly french and roughly 10% american oak barrels. I use tight grained American oak barrels to lift and accentuate the spicy, peppery aromas and flavours in shiraz.
Our 2013 Shiraz has flavours of blueberry, chocolate, savoury spices and hints of fragrant white pepper. On the palate, the red and dark berry flavours continue, balanced by soft velvety tannins. This wine is refined and elegant in style, with all the structure and intensity to age well.
Vegetables, fruit & herbs which match well:
Tomato, squash, cumin, sage, white beans, cloves, saffron, black olives, fennel, pepper, juniper berries, anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, chocolate, radicchio, thai mint, basil
Slow roasted leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic; braised stuff duck with black olives; Moroccan lamb and couscous; slow cooked beef cheek; steak with black pepper rub;
James Halliday, 2018 Wine Companion & Weekend Australian, February 2017 – 95 pts: “Medium bodied, with deceptive power, length and fragrance. Distinctly savoury, but intense blue and black fruits emerge on the finish and aftertaste. Complex techniques include draining some actively fermenting juice into new oak, the remainder into tank”