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. These shiraz wines are also the styles which Neil and myself preferred to drink, and ones that we consider to be more balanced, more complex, more elegant and match far better with food.
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 plum flavours.
The way we handle our shiraz ferments is very labour intensive, but the end results in terms of colour and flavour extraction is well worth the hard work. We ferment our shiraz in open topped fermenters, with alternating hand plunging, followed by draining off skins into a tank, then returning onto skins with lots of splashing and aeration, happening 2 to 3 times a day. Once a day during the active part of ferment, after draining off skins, a small portion of the shiraz ferment is also returned into two new French or American barrels to ferment, with the balance being returned back onto the skins in the fermenters. The wine completed fermentation through to dryness on skins in both the open topped fermenters, as well as in the barrels. Following fermentation, the wines were pressed off skins using a basket press. (More shovelling!)
We then mature our shiraz for 2 years in a mix of a new, one, two and three year old mainly french and some american oak barrels (About 8%). Roughly an equal proportion of each barrel age, and about 8 to 10% is american oak. I use American oak barrels, as when they are carefully selected, they do 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, 2015 Wine Companion – 94 pts:
“Excellent crimson-purple; the wine has calmly dealt with 2 years oak maturation, boasting black and red fruits, sequins of spice, pepper and licorice, and a long supple palate, the tannins fine, oak not the least repressive.”