Rolf Binder Hales Shiraz 2008
The Rolf Binder Shiraz is 96% Barossa Shiraz with 3% Grenache and 3% Mataro. Most of the Shiraz is home grown from the Stephanie vineyard with 20% of the Shiraz coming from the Light Pass grower Heardon, 25% from Doeke at Seppeltstfield Road whose vineyard is opposite our Heysen vineyard. These Vineyards lie along the Western edge of the Barossa Valley.
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Rolf Heinrich Binder and his wife, Franziska, arrived in Australia (from Austria and Hungary respectively) in 1950 as part of the large influx of post war immigration. As payment for the government assistance, they worked for the South Australian Railway for three years. During that time they met Elmore Schulz, a train driver and grape grower in the Barossa Valley, and namesake to Barossa Valley Estate’s E&E Shiraz. While picking grapes for Schulz in 1953, the couple met Langmeil Road winemakers, Chris Vohrer and Wilhelm Abel, a meeting that proved to set their future in the wine business. In 1954 they worked a vintage in this winery and subsequently purchased the business in 1955, renaming it ‘Veritas’, taken from the Latin quote “In Vino Veritas” – in wine, truth. The winery name was changed from Veritas to Rolf Binder in 2005 to honor Rolf Heinrich Binder who passed away in 2003. Since then, the business has grown substantially throughout Australia, with wines also now exported to 19 countries.
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 work diligently to ensure grapes reach the perfect levels of phenolic ripeness.
The intense heat is ideal for plush, bold reds, particularly Shiraz on its own or Rhône Blends featuring Shiraz, Grenache, and Mourvèdre. Often Shiraz and Cabernet partner up for plump and powerful reds. While much less prevalent, light-skinned varieties such as Riesling, Viognier or Semillon produce vibrant Barossa Valley whites.
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.