Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
This dynamic partnership also yielded a Shiraz vineyard in Central Victoria’s Heathcote region, the home of Jasper Hill. Planted in the spring of 1998, this tiny vineyard was established on virgin red Cambrian soils and planted with both Australian Shiraz clones, selected by Ron, and French Syrah clones, imported by Michel from cuttings off his famous Hermitage vineyard. The label depicts ‘La Pleiade’ (The Pleiades, Seven Sisters), a small, wispy star cluster in the constellation of Taurus that can be viewed by the naked eye from both partners’ home vineyards in Tain l’Hermitage and Heathcote. Revered in legends by ancient cultures of most civilisations, including the Gauls and Aboriginal Australians, the Greek mythology of the Pleiades is linked to the seven beautiful daughters of Atlas and Pleione and their pursuit by Orion.
Though Syrah originated in the Rhône Valley of France, Australia is home to the oldest Syrah (called Shiraz here) vines on the planet. Found in Australia’s Barossa Valley, where phylloxera has never threated viticulture, these ancient vines are between 140 to 175 years old!
Having brought fame and merit to the country’s wine scene since the early 1950s, namely via the debut of Penfolds Grange, today Syrah (Shiraz) claims rank as the most widely planted grape in Australia. In fact, the amount of land dedicated to Shiraz in Australia is now almost equivalent to what it is in France. Australian Shiraz has its own personality with flavors and aromas of intense blackberry, fruitcake, menthol, tobacco leaf and umami. Conveniently one can find great Australian Shiraz at a variety of price points but the very best will be dense, gloriously complex and capable of long aging.