Massive and daring, Shiraz is an excellent wine to place away and drink years and years later, however what occurs to Shiraz when it will get older? We put the Maximus Shiraz from Lisa McGuigan Wines to the check with a vertical tasting.
Synonymous with Australia, Shiraz is de facto our nationwide wine selection. It’s probably the most broadly planted grape and our greatest wine export, and one in 4 bottles on Aussie tables is a Shiraz.
However how a lot do we actually find out about this wine kind that’s been going for over 4,500 years?
Most of us know that Shiraz is often a strong, fruit-forward wine with sturdy tannins that we often drink with pink meat, blue cheese and different strong-flavoured meals. It’s the selection of the barbecue and roast dinner, and from its deep darkish purple depths come an depth that may be off-putting.
However that’s not all Shiraz.
Some Shiraz—significantly as Australia’s palate modifications—is way lighter in physique, particularly when it’s from cooler climates.
Shiraz from hotter, lower-altitude areas just like the Barossa Valley is very often that large beefy juicy wine. However areas which can be a bit cooler like Orange, the Hunter Valley or Mudgee produce a lighter type Shiraz.
You’ll nonetheless discover these flavours you affiliate with Shiraz: blackberry, clove, candy tobacco—however that mouth-coating unctuousness and typically overwhelming energy is harnessed to create extra construction and refinement within the wine.
What occurs when Shiraz ages?
Typically talking, as wine will get older, these fruity flavours you style when the wine’s younger diminish as does acidity and tannins that make your mouth really feel dry. Wine smooths out, and savoury spicy notes develop.
That is what (usually) occurs with Shiraz.
Sweetness turns to a silky mouthfeel, tannins and acidity act as foundations for darker fruit notes to sit down on whereas oak, tobacco and spice carry so that you’re left with a strong but elegant wine. Some Shiraz can age for 20+ years.
Take a look at a few of our different Shiraz tales:
What’s a vertical tasting?
This can be a deep-dive into the wine-maker’s expertise and to see the impact time has on their wine in addition to how completely different vintages with completely different rising circumstances can change the wine.
Tasting the identical selection from the identical vineyard (and ideally from the identical winery) however with bottles from completely different years, you possibly can see a cross part of how the wine modifications over time.
We tried this with Lisa McGuigan’s Maximus Shiraz from her flagship Platinum vary, tasting the 2015, ’16 and ’18 vintages. Though it is a fairly tight grouping—the extra time between vintages the higher—there was nonetheless a transparent change in all of those wines.
Maximus Shiraz by Lisa McGuigan
Normal tasting notes for the Maximus, whose grapes come from vineyards in Mudgee, NSW, are:
“Vibrant plum color, aroma of black cherry, mulberries and recent spices with hints of mocha, and wealthy plum notes, blackcurrants, mocha and spice on the palate.”
And that’s precisely what we discovered as a central spine to all three vintages.
Ingesting ‘backwards’—as in youngest to oldest—means you get to see the wine develop and have a baseline to match the older wine in opposition to.
The 2018 classic confirmed ripe plum and large berry notes that Lisa’s notes advised. The wine had a medium physique as per its area, and surprisingly brief end, although when you’re ingesting it, this wine places within the effort. It’s daring, full-flavoured and satisfying.
Subsequent the 2016 classic displayed some softening in these berry flavours, extra spice and slightly extra size.
Lastly, the 2015 wine gave a for much longer end, smoother tannins, bolder chocolate and liquorice notes and a finer acid construction. The fruit notes had receded leaving savoury, spice and French oak to play their position.
Lisa recommends a 5-10 12 months cellaring for this wine, so in 2022, we’re proper on the cash for this wine. There is perhaps a pair extra years the place extra of these savoury notes come ahead, however why wait when it’s ingesting so effectively now?!
What do you want for a vertical tasting?
Organising a vertical tasting is simple sufficient. At its minimal, all you want is the wine—a minimum of three vintages all from the identical vineyard—and glasses. To go the additional mile, you possibly can have sufficient glasses for every bottle, tasting notes on every classic, observe books, matching meals… you possibly can actually go to city.
In case you’re having bother discovering a number of vintages of the identical wine in bottle outlets, search the vineyard immediately. Some promote a number of vintages whereas others have a museum launch program like Howard Park Wines.
The one factor that’s not arduous to search out for a vertical tasting is keen volunteers!