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John Duval Eligo Shiraz 2008
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
John Duval is one of Australia's most highly regarded winemakers. Raised on a South Australian farm with three generations of grape growers before him, his vinous path was fated. However, it was during his 28-year tenure with Penfolds that his passion for the famed Barossa Valley flourished. As Chief Winemaker and custodian of Australia's most famous wine, Grange, he was instrumental in establishing Penfolds as one of the world's great wineries. His accolades include being named UK Wine and Spirit Competition's International Winemaker of the Year, Red Winemaker of the Year (twice) and receiving Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year award. In 2003, John embarked on his own label, John Duval Wines, inspired by the best of the Barossa Valley's low-yielding, old vine vineyards. With a deft touch he crafts intense wines that are as complex and distinctive as the diverse terroir of his treasured Barossa Valley. Duval focuses on fruit that comes from older vines in Barossa, including Rhone varietals, leading to one of his stellar ones, "Plexus.
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 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.