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Hewitson Barossa Valley Shiraz 1999
Dean Hewitson has been indeed very fortunate to be tutored by some of the best wine makers and wine scientists in the world. Having completed his degree at Roseworthy, he worked at one of Australia's best wineries, visited some of the world's best wineries experiencing fifteen vintages worldwide, and spent two years at UC Davis, California, where he completed his Masters. Through all of this, to be guided through wine evaluations and wine making techniques of the great wines by the masters themselves has certainly been a privilege and a wonderful opportunity for him. He therefore is able to draw on a very wide spectrum of ideas, practices, philosophies and experiments. These are encapsulated in his wines.
Hunting down the right varieties in the right vineyard in the right region was the next step. Each variety has been selected on the basis of being able to produce a wine of world class that, in particular, the old vineyards of South Australia are able to produce. Geographical isolation and in part a fluke of human non-intervention have preserved pre-phylloxera vineyards that are more closely linked to the original clones from Europe than anywhere on earth.
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 1860. Many of them are dry farmed and bush trained, still offering less than one ton per acre of inky, purple juice.
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.
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.