After two successive small vintages, Wine Australia reported earlier this year that Australia’s wine sector had bounced back with a record crop of 2.03 million tonnes in the 2021 vintage.
This year’s crush was 31 per cent higher than in 2020, with red grapes making up 57 per cent of the crush, up 37 per cent on the previous year.
The main contributor to the increase in red crush was Shiraz, up by 41 per cent to a record 538,402 tonnes. This saw its share increase by one percentage point to 46 per cent of all red varieties and 27 per cent of the total crush.
With Shiraz enjoying such growth and popularity, it is the perfect time to celebrate Australia’s second National Shiraz Day, which takes place tomorrow, Thursday 22 July. And, according to Angove Chief Winemaker, Tony Ingle, if you want to enjoy a true taste of Shiraz and its terroir, then organic Shiraz is the way to go.
“With organic grape-growing, yes you’ve got to be a little bit more careful, you’ve got to walk through the vineyard a bit more often to see what’s happening, and you’ve got to react when you see things making a problem,” Ingle told The Shout.
“Organic winemaking is all about taking away the shadow and mystery from that translation of a vineyard into the glass. One of the things I noticed certainly when you’re looking at organic and biodynamic wines, is they really show the place, down to almost the row.
“I can walk through our winery, and I can smell the tanks from our Warboys vineyard, because they’re just so distinctive. And organic winemaking takes all the subterfuge away. It just shows everything in clear distinction and it just makes that expression of place so much clearer.”
In terms of some of the challenges around organic winemaking, he added: “If you’re going to be doing in a region that’s got a lot of disease pressure, then it starts getting really hard. You have to start spraying things a lot, which is why we do it in the McLaren Vale, where there is very low disease pressure.
“The only year we had an issue was in 2011 when there was a lot of rain and we probably lost 30 to 40 per cent of our crop to disease. But pretty much every year since then it’s been spot on for growing organic grapes right.”
And why is Shiraz such a popular grape, grown in different regions across the country?
Ingle told The Shout: “This is the joy of Shiraz, and why it’s so popular in Australia because it can grow well in different regions, but crucially it does describe the terroir, the place it’s from really well.
“The Hunter is a small growing region, quite warm and wet for Sydney and they can have a really good year. But then you get different styles as you move further south into the cooler more difficult growing regions. Here you get a lot greener flavours, a bit more herbaceous and you’re growing it slightly differently as well.
“Then you come to McLaren Vale and Barossa and they have almost perfect environments for growing Shiraz, very clean, very low disease and you can get it ripe pretty much every year. The Barossa is usually about four degrees warmer than McLaren and as a result you get a slightly jammier flavour, whereas McLaren Vale has more savoury, Mediterranean type of characters.
“So once you know a little about the regions you can have these really very different wines, all made out of the same grape variety.”
And while everyone knows that Shiraz will pair perfectly with just about every red meat, Ingle said: “I’ve been using a lot of great Yotam Ottolenghi recipes, using things like eggplant and those North African flavours and those spices like cinnamon, clove, ginger you can always find in a really great Shiraz, like our Naturalis Organic Shiraz and Wild Olive Shiraz.”
National Shiraz Day is designed to celebrate Australia’s beloved grape and Angove currently produces four organic Shiraz wines, the Naturalis Organic Shiraz and Wild Olive Shiraz Ingle mentioned as well as Warboys Vineyard Shiraz and Angove Organic Shiraz.