Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz Michael 1997
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 dissimilar to Bordeaux.
In Coonawarra, this unique layer of red 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 vine 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 Sauvignon develops powerful, yet polished tannins, ripe, red berry fruit and often sweet herb or dried mint qualities. The region has an increased focus on the individual expressions of single vineyards.
Marked by an unmistakable deep purple hue and savory aromatics, Syrah makes an intense, powerful and often age-worthy red. Native to the Northern Rhône, Syrah achieves its maximum potential in the steep village of Hermitage and plays an important component in the Red Rhône Blends of the south, adding color and structure to Grenache and Mourvèdre. Syrah is the most widely planted grape of Australia and is important in California and Washington. Sommelier Secret—Such a synergy these three create together, the Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre trio often takes on the shorthand term, “GSM.”