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Cockfighter's Ghost Shiraz, Hunter Valley NSW 2001

Syrah/Shiraz from Hunter Valley, Australia
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    Winemaker Notes

    This, the fourth release from mature Hunter Valley vines is made entirely from Shiraz grapes grown in the red loam soils of the Cockfighter's Ghost Estate in the Broke Fordwich district in the Hunter Valley. This premium wine shows the benefits of an excellent vintage. The ripe grapes were hand-picked and crushed into special red fermentation vats, controlled at 18-23oC for 9 days. Skin maceration and gentle pressing preceded a 10 month period of oak maturation, prior to blending and bottling in January 1999. This wine is made by Neil McGuigan. The color is deep rich intense purple. The nose is characterized by a combination of ripe dark berries and spice. The palate is rich, mellow and flavorsome packed full of rich black cherry and plum flavors with hints of pepper and spice and is complemented by subtle American oak characters that flow through to the long, lingering and satisfying finish. To be enjoyed now or cellared with confidence for rewarding drinking over the next 4-5 years. Great with veal scaloppini. 2,000 cases produced.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Cockfighter's Ghost

    Cockfighter's Ghost

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    Cockfighter's Ghost, Hunter Valley, Australia
    Behind every wine is a story, and this one starts in 175 years ago when Govenor Macquerie detailed a group of explorers to establish a route to Hunter Valley. One wild, windy night as the travelers were crossing Wollombi Brook, misfortune struck Cockfighter, the lead horse, who became stuck in river quicksand. He drowned despite all efforts to rescue him. The fateful night gave birth to the legend of Cockfighter’s Ghost, and it is said that a windy night just like back then, one can still hear the cries of the horse across the landscape. Today, the area is the vineyard that is named after the phantom steed. Cockfghter’s Ghost is committed to producing single varietal wines. The original 20-acre vineyard is planted to Chardonnay and Semillon, and a small block of old-vine Shiraz dates back over fifty years ago. Vineyard owner David Clarke takes special care in producing these world-class wines. Each wine is produced from prime quality grapes grown in the well-drained sandy loam soils of the estate and a few select sites. Each wine is then vinified under the direction of a specialist for the variety. The Lower Hunter Valley is one of the most important wine regions in Australia. Located at the heart of New South Wales, it is one of the warmest and most humid climates in Australia. However, the often cloudy skies and the effects of the maritime winds work together to result in a region that has produced fantastic wines. The principal grape varieties planted in the Valley are Chardonnay, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

    Hunter Valley

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    Even as a hot subtropical growing region, the Hunter Valley region on the eastern side of Australia produces world-renowned and admired white wines from the Semillon grape.

    Hunter Valley Semillons are known to achieve such fresh and bracing acidity levels that while they can be enjoyed in their youth, evolution typically brings their best qualities forward. Most will develop favorably for upwards of 10 to 20 years. These wines are fairly low in alcohol and when young, can be tart and citrus-driven whites with piquant herbal and mineral notes. The best examples, when aged, develop notes of caramel, honey, browned butter and roasted nuts. Some are fermented or matured in oak but it is often undetectable in this fresh style.

    Soils in the Hunter Valley are volcanic basalt and white alluvial sands, favorable for aroma development in Semillon.

    While winter and spring drought is common, summer and fall brings a good deal of precipitation. Warm summer nights allow the Semillon vines to ripen with haste but constant cloud cover in the fall reduces vine stress and the impact of their heat load. Ripening comes early end of January early February, equivalent to early August in the northern hemisphere.


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    Marked by unmistakable aromatics, a savory palate, and an elegant texture, Syrah is capable of producing fascinatingly complex and long-lived wines with a stunning purple hue. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah’s best examples are found in Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie. It is also an important component of the GSM blends of the Southern Rhône and beyond, alongside Grenache and Mourvèdre. Both varietal Syrah and GSM blends are common in Australia and California and are gaining popularity in Washington State. In Australia, Syrah is known by the synonym Shiraz, which tends to indicate a bolder, fruit-driven style of wine, and is occasionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure.

    In the Glass

    At its best, Syrah shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper, smoke, and even bacon fat. Many examples from California aim to recreate this savory style, while others focus more on concentrated fruit flavors. In Australia, under the name Shiraz, it shines as that country’s unofficial signature red grape, producing deep, dark, intense, and often jammy reds.

    Perfect Pairings

    Cool-climate Syrah, with its peppery spices, is a natural match with flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb dishes, where the spice is more about flavor than heat. With Australian Shiraz, grown in warmer regions, heavy meat dishes with abundant protein and fat are a necessity to match the intensity of the wine.

    Sommelier Secret

    Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” this synonym for Syrah has been adopted by winemakers throughout the world. If the label says “Shiraz,” you can typically expect a plush, fruity, and potent wine made in the Australian style. New World "Syrah" will generally more closely resemble the French style.

    DWD317_2001 Item# 74040