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Annie's Lane Copper Trail Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre 2003
The wine has aromas of blackcurrant and licorice with a hint of cinnamon, enhanced by subtle use of oak. The full, soft, rich palate is characterized by spice, with a long velvety finish. This savory style of wine is the perfect complement to richly flavored food.
Annie' s Lane is now one of the finest wineries in Australia's renowned Clare Valley and represents the finest vineyards in one of South Australia's great regions. The Annie's Lane wines rely on regional and varietal expression and have been awarded with over 350 trophies and medals at wine shows in Australia and across the globe since the first release in 1996. The most successful of all the wines has been the super-premium Copper Trail Shiraz.
The home of Annie's Lane is the heritage listed Quelltaler winery at the heart of Watervale, in the Clare Valley's south. Quelltaler is the region's oldest and most important winery, dating back to 1863. Fruit for Annie's Lane is sourced from magnificent old Watervale vines as well as from vineyards to the north in the Polish Hill River sub-district where the cooler ripening period and extraordinary slate riddled soils combine to create an unmistakable stamp of the Clare Valley.
The Clare Valley is actually a series of narrow north to south valleys, each with different soil types and slightly different weather patterns along their stretch. In the southern heartland between Watervale and Auburn, there is mainly a crumbled, red, clay loam soil called terra-rossa and cool breezes come in from Gulf St. Vincent. A few miles north in Polish Hill is soft, red loam over clay and is influenced by westerlies blowing in from the Spencer Gulf.
The differences in soil, elevation, degree of slope and weather influences enable the region to produce some of Australia’s finest aromatic, spicy and lime-pithy Rieslings, as well as excellent Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec with ripe plummy fruit, good acid and big structure.
Clare Valley is an isolated farming country with a continental climate known for its warm and sunny days, followed by cool nights—perfect for wine grapes’ development of sugar and phenolic ripeness in conjunction with notable acidity levels.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.