Hentley Farm Clos Otto Shiraz 2013
Set on the red-brown soils of the western Barossa Valley, Hentley Farm founders Keith and Alison Hentschke acquired the 150-acre vineyard and mixed farming property in the 1990s. Following extensive research to find out where the best red wine grapes in the Barossa Valley were being produced, their studies led them towards the rich red soils of the Seppeltsfield area. Keith used an old soil map from the 1950s to strategically locate the best parcels of land and after a number of years acquired Hentley Farm.
With a focus on perfecting the vineyards, the first wines weren’t released from the property until 2002. The estate was extended with the purchase of the neighboring high-quality, Clos Otto block in 2004.
The vineyards contain the following varietals: Shiraz (70%), Grenache (17%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Zinfandel (2%), and a small parcel of Viognier (1%). Blocks were carefully selected for orientation and aspect with different clonal material used according to suitability.
The depth and complexity of our wines arises from the great variety of terroirs at Hentley Farm, created by the diversity within the 150-acre estate’s east and west facing slopes and altitude variances. Subsoils of tightly structured friable clay offer huge water holding potential, offering respite for the vines in times of low rainfall.
Historically and presently the most important wine-producing region of Australia, the Barossa Valley is set in South Australia, where more than half of the country’s wine is made. Because the climate is very hot and dry, vineyard managers must be careful so that grapes do not become overripe.
The intense heat is ideal for plush, bold reds, particularly Rhône blends featuring Shiraz, Grenache, and Mataro (Mourvèdre). White grapes can produce crisp, fresh wines from Riesling, Chardonnay, and Semillon if they are planted at higher altitudes.
Most of Australia’s largest wine producers are based here and Shiraz plantings date back as far as the 1850s or before. Many of them are dry-farmed and bush-trained, still offering less than one ton per acre of inky, intense, purple juice.
Marked by an 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.
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.
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.