This is Australia’s most lauded sparkling shiraz, and a wine only released infrequently when vintage conditions suit. It also sees an extra-long slumbering on lees before disgorging. This one saw nine years of bottle conditioning, which is extraordinary when you consider how bright, lively and vibrant the end product is.
Released in June 2023, this is the latest edition of this much-loved classic. Tarry dark fruits and spiced plum notes, with baked blackberry Danish, dark cherry and blackstrap licorice. There’s a refreshingly crisp balance to this, with fruit weight naturally having its say but the sugar supporting rather than overriding the experience. A Christmas Day drink? Well, this is the way to do it right.
Themes of this wine
Sparkling shiraz, formerly called sparkling burgundy, is a uniquely Australian thing. Some link the origins to Edmund Mazure in South Australia, while others to Seppelt Great Western in the Grampians when Hans Irvine started making some of the first traditional method sparkling wines in the country. Whoever was first, both played with the style in the late 19th century, likely independently discovering it. The Seppelt winery still arguably produces the leading example of the style in the late released Show Reserve. Today, sparkling shiraz has waned somewhat in popularity, but it is still regarded as a traditional Christmas wine – in Australia at least.
The wine zone of Western Victoria contains the three major regions of the Grampians, the Pyrenees and Henty, with Great Western a subregion of the Grampians. The Grampians and the Pyrenees share a little in common, with the elevation of their attendant mountain ranges contributing to their subregional character, as well as a specialisation in red wines. Being further inland to the north-east, the Pyrenees is more continental in climate with warm days and cold nights, while the Grampians feel the influence of the Southern Ocean, with sea breezes doing the cooling at night. In the Grampians, the kingship of shiraz (and riesling for white grapes, though whites in general account for only about 15 per cent of the total plantings) goes back some time. In Great Western, Seppelt was founded in 1863, while Best’s followed in 1865, and both have made and cemented significant reputations for producing shiraz.
Shiraz dominates the Australian wine industry, accounting for nearly a third of this country’s vines. The grape’s traditional home is in France’s Northern Rhône, with wines that combine elegance and power, while Australia is perhaps best known for the muscular styles from warmer areas. Today, drinkers of Australian shiraz are spoilt for choice with expressions ranging from the elegant and spicy to the monumental.