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Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 1999
Sweet nose of fresh violets and hints of blackcurrant. Aromas are restrained but show fresh leafy characters with some pepper and plums adding complexity. The fruit is underlined by smoky oak.
Stylish, showing distinctive flavours from all three grape varieties. Rich but soft tannins frame dark berry, black peppercorn and tobacco characters. Excellent structure with fruit sweetness and a long, silky finish.
Winemaker Sue Hodder grew up in the "red center" – Australia's outback. The red soil of Coonawarra is now her home. After graduating from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1984, Sue started in the viticultural side of the wine industry as a Grower Liaison Officer. Making detailed assessments of vines through the year, tasting and analyzing maturing fruit and following up on the resulting wines gave Sue an appreciation of the importance of the vineyard in quality wine production. Sue then made what she considers to be a logical step into winemaking. She started at Wynns Coonawarra Estate in 1993, fell in love with the winemaking region and has remained. In 1998, she became Chief Winemaker.
Distinguished by a thin, subterranean band of crumbled, red, clay loam, Coonawarra is a fairly flat, otherwise unobtrusive region with a cool Mediterranean climate, actually not unsimilar to Bordeaux.
In Coonawarra, this unique layer of clay is called, "terra rossa" and gets its color from iron oxide. The terra rossa soil overlies soft, penetrable limestone, in a continuous area that is part of the Limestone Coast zone of South Australia. This uncommon layering of soils creates a substrate that is both well draining and at the same time, offers good water retention to support vines’ roots through dry summers.
Not surprisingly, Coonawara experiences great success with the Bordeaux varieties, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, but also Shiraz. However Cabernet reigns superior and accounts for half of the Coonawarra harvest each year. Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignons develop powerful, yet polished tannins, and achieve ripeness without verging into imbalance. Typical of these unique reds are ripe red berry fruits with cassis, sweet herb and dried mint. The region has an increased focus on the individual expressions of single vineyard wines.
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.