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Razor's Edge Shiraz-Grenache 2008
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
In 2007, the 2005 vintage of the McLaren Vale Shiraz was released and a new wine, a 2006 Unwooded Chardonnay, was introduced. Both were very well received and demand soared after rave reviews from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines. Before the end of 2007, two new wines were introduced by Razor’s Edge: a McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon and a McLaren Vale Shiraz Grenache.
The South Australian wine industry is responsible for more than half the production of all Australian wine. The state of South Australia has a vast diversity in geography and climate which allows the state to be able to successfully produce a wide range of grape varieties, from cool climate Rieslings in the Clare Valley, to big and full-bodied Shiraz in the Barossa. Like with most agriculture in Australia, irrigation is a vital component to the success of the South Australian wine industry. Some of Australia's most well known wines are produced here.
Vines are grown at all types of altitudes in South Australia from the low valley regions of the Barossa up to the 1,970ft vineyards in the Eden Valley. The soil type is also varied across the region from the well known terra rosa of Coonawarra, the limestone-marl based soils of the Adelaide, to the sandy, clay loam based soils of the Barossa.
Known for opulent red wines with intense power and concentration, McLaren Vale is home to perhaps the most “classic” style of Australian Shiraz. Vinified on its own or in Rhône blends with Grenache and Mourvèdre, these hot-climate wines are deeply colored and high in extract and alcohol, with signature hints of dark chocolate and licorice. Cabernet Sauvignon is also produced in a similar style, as are ripe, tropical-fruited Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.