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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 deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah accounts for a good deal of some of the most intense, powerful and age-worthy reds in the world. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah still achieves some of its maximum potential here, especially from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie.

    Syrah also plays an important component in the canonical Southern Rhône blends based on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre, adding color, depth, complexity and structure to the mix. Today these blends have become well-appreciated from key appellations of the New World, namely Australia, California and increasingly, with praise, from Washington.

    In the Glass

    Syrah typically shows aromas and flavors of purple fruits, fragrant violets, baking spice, white pepper and even bacon, smoke or black olive. In Australia, where it goes under the name Shiraz, it produces deep, dark, intense and often, jammy reds. While Northern Rhône examples are typically less fruity and more earthy, California appears increasingly capable of either style.

    Perfect Pairings

    Flavorful Moroccan-spiced lamb, grilled meats, spareribs and hard, aged cheeses are perfect with Syrah. Blue cheeses are perfect with a dense and fruit-driven Australian Shiraz.

    Sommelier Secret

    Due to the success of Australian “Shiraz,” winemakers throughout the world have adopted this synonym for Syrah when they have produced a plush and fruit forward wine made in the Australian style. As an aside, Australians are also fond of tempering their fruit-forward Shiraz by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds depth and structure.

    DWD317_2001 Item# 74040