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McWilliam's Shiraz 2004
All the grapes were picked during the cool of the night, de-stemmed, lightly crushed and transferred to a combination of rotary and ‘headed-down' fermentation tanks to extract maximum colour and flavour. A portion of the wine was barrel fermented in new American oak puncheons, before the entire wine was matured in a combination of one, two and three-year-old oak for nine months.
The wines made by McWilliam’s are more than just benchmark expressions of Australian winemaking. They are wines that draw on more than 135 years of experience, wines that tell a story of a family’s passion for winemaking.
Since the time Samuel McWilliam planted his first vines, the McWilliam family history has been closely intertwined with the stories of the New South Wales and Australian wine industries. From JJ McWilliam’s ambitious plan to pioneer Griffith as a wine region to more recent viticultural ventures in other parts of New South Wales, the McWilliam family has been a leader in the journey that has seen Australian wines move to the forefront of international respect and popularity. From humble beginnings, the family winery has continued to grow in size and stature. The knowledge, skill and passion that results from such a long family involvement in the Australian wine industry is the reason behind the quality and distinction of each bottle of wine produced by McWilliam’s.
A philosophy of excellence in winemaking has been the backbone of the family vision for over a century, with a particular emphasis on sourcing the finest fruit possible. The continued popularity and acclaim for the wines of McWilliam’s is testament to an unfaltering mission that has been carried from each generation to the next, like a family heirloom.
Today, McWilliam’s sources from vineyards in premium wine regions across New South Wales, including the Riverina, Hilltops, Tumbarumba and Orange. The family has honoured Samuel McWilliam’s faith in the value of the New South Wales land and climate by continuing to lead and further the growth of the local wine industry.
A large, climatically diverse country producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia is not just a source of blockbuster Shiraz or inexpensive wine with cute labels, though both can certainly be found here. Australia has a grand winemaking history and some of the oldest vines on the planet, along with a huge range of landscapes and climates; it is impossible to make generalizations about Australian wine. Most regions are concentrated in the south of the country with those inland experiencing warm, dry weather, and those in more coastal areas receiving humid and tropical, or maritime weather patterns. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety, typically producing bold, supple reds with sweet, jammy fruit and performing best in the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Shiraz, and also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre (often locally referred to as Mataro) are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version, and Semillon is often utilized as its blending partner, or in the Hunter Valley, on its own to make complex, age-worthy whites. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen Muscat is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing, and there are a vast array of intriguing varieties to be found.
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.
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.
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.