Shiraz is a premium red grape variety widely planted throughout the warmer wine producing areas of the world. Australia has the second largest plantings of Shiraz in the world (behind France) with close to 40 000 hectares under vine. Known in France as Syrah, the name of the grape has been widley anglicized in the new world to the more familiar Shiraz.
Shiraz originates from Isère in the Rhône-Alps region of France and is a natural cross of two obscure grape varieties - Monduese Blanche and Dureza. Although known for the wines produced in the Rhône Valley in France, Shiraz has made a home in Australia where the warmer climate allows the grapes to fully ripen and to produce a wine with soft fruit flavours and gentle tannins, yet with enjoyable weight and length.
Shiraz has a long history of cultivation in Australia, with most assuming that it was brought to Australia by James Busby around 1833 and subsequently planted in the Hunter Valley. In fact according to the research of Dr. John Norrie (www.drnorrie.info), it was John Macarthur who first introduced Shiraz to Australia in 1817, planting it in a vineyard on the Nepean River near Penrith and at Camden in New South Wales. Macarthur recorded that Shiraz did not thrive at either of these vineyard sites, however he supplied cuttings to numerous other vineyards throughout the country, allowing Shiraz to survive and eventually flourish.
Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz was one of the first grapes planted by Stuart Anderson in Bendigo in 1969. The climate of the Bendigo region is unique, while warmer than the cooler temperatures of the Yarra Valley, the region is not as warm as the wine producing areas in South Australia. As a result the Shiraz from Bendigo has a lovely rich palate but also has elegance making it an ideal wine to consume with a variety of different foods.
With the much anticipated release of the new vintage of Old Vine Shiraz, for the first time will have three different Shiraz wines all from our Bendigo vineyards – and all from the 2013 vintage.
The first release of this exceptional wine since 2009 is an absolute cracker. From an excellent year in Bendigo the wine is beautifully concentrated with lovely intense fruit flavours balanced by perfectly integrated oak and tannin. While a delicious wine to drink now, this wine will continue to develop complex in the cellar over the next twenty years.
James Halliday’s Review from the 2017 Wine Companion
“It’s picked from the best 12 rows of the original ’69 plantings. The wine takes volume of flavour and gives it a nudge, and does so with a masterful sense of control, even poise. It’s firm, rich, warm; it’s both as essay on style and a vote for substance. Rating 96 Drink to 2035.”
This is a limited release single vineyard wine from the Centre Block vineyard in Bendigo. The Centre Block contains some of the oldest and well established vines on the property. Planted in deep red sandy loam soils derived from ancient creek flats the vines produce premium fruit with elegant tannins and sensational structure.
Mike Frost’s Review
“Nose: Restrained dark berry and plum, with oak in the background.
Palate: Concentrated dark berry and plum, with some spice and a touch of vanilla oak in the background. Fruit nicely dominant on elegant medium-bodied palate, with fine, firm tannins on the finish. Should age well for up to a decade. Rating 94.”
Balgownie’s signature wine from Bendigo, produced continuously since the inaugural vintage in 1972, the Shiraz has become a benchmark of Central Vitorian Shiraz. A beautifully balanced wine with rich dark cherry and spice flavours married to smooth chocolatey oak.
James Halliday’s Review from the 2017 Wine Companion
“With warmth comes richness and with richness comes seamlessness. It’s flush with dark/sweet plum, mint and smoky/chocolatey oak, the volume of flavour making ultrafine-grained tannin feel barely discernable. Drinks well now, but will age now. Rating 94"
Many people tend to assume that wine that has been aged is better than a young wine. But aging a wine will not automatically make it into a better wine. Not all wine is meant to be aged, with much of the wine that is produced designed to be drunk and enjoyed as a young wine. Storing these wines for extended periods will not improve them, rather they will lose their freshness and fruit and often become soft and flabby.
Wines that are capable of aging in a cellar have been deliberately built to do this. For a winemaker to produce a wine that can be aged, the first decision is to choose a grape variety that is capable of aging like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Chardonnay. Yields in the vineyard are kept very low and the fruit is carefully selected, with often only the best rows of vines included. Even then a good vintage is required – a year when everything is right to get the berries to an ideal level of ripeness with excellent balance. Making a wine that is capable of aging also relies heavily on the skill of the viticulturist and the winemaker.
Young wines that are made for aging are usually quite big and rich when young with lots of fruit, acid and tannins. These features are termed primary fruit characters and they come from the grapes themselves. Young wines also contain secondary characters that become part of the wine during the wine making progress – aging the wine in an oak barrel to impart complexity to the wine is among the most common.
However as a wine evolves over time it will undergo a number of changes, and this is what makes wine so intriguing. The primary fruit character will soften and change with the big fruity elements being replaced by more gentle and complex tertiary characters. The tannins will also soften over time and become less aggressive and less obvious, with the whole wine becoming softer and integrated with a much more complex personality.
The conclusion is to drink your wine at the age that you enjoy it – if a young, vibrant wine chock full of fruit, oak and flavour is your thing, then drink it young. If you prefer the more complex, nuanced flavours of an aged wine to accompany a meal then an older wine may suit you better.
If you would like to try an aged Balgownie Estate Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon why not head to the Cellar Door in the Yarra Valley where the staff would be happy to show you these magnificent wines. Alternatively Rae's Restaurant is offering Wine Flights - taste three vintages of either Estate Shiraz or Estate Cabernet Cabernet Sauvignon, the current release wine plus two aged wines for $33.
The vines at Balgownie Estate Yarra Valley have woken from their winter sleep and have begun their spring growth.This is formally known as budburst where the vines come back to life and begin the process that will lead to the formation of grapes.
With a warm and wet Spring predicted, we are very hopeful of a great crop of berries for vintage in 2017.
As the cold winter weather continues, we are very pleased that a brand new bottling of Balgownie Estate’s Tawny Fortified Shiraz is now ready to drink. Warm up those cold winter nights with glass (or two) of our fabulous fortified wine matched with delicious dark Cuvee Chocolate.
Here is what Huon Hooke had to say about Balgownie's latest release Sangiovese:
"Full red/purple hue and a sweetly ripe, attractive bouquet incorporating dried herbs, dried fruits and berries. It’s medium
to full-bodied and deliciously flavoured on the palate, a far cry from the simplistic grapy styles. Tannins are mild and the
finish is clean and balanced."
Drink 2016 to 2026
Balgownie Estate is proud to announce the release of the sensational 2014 Black Label Sangiovese. Since its first release in 2010 the Sangiovese has built a reputation as a delicious wine that is the perfect accompaniment to a wide range of food and has resulted in it being keenly sort after.
This new release of Balgownie Estate Sangiovese has aromas of cherry, plums, and a touch of spice accompanied by gentle savoury notes. The palate is rich and fleshy with black and red fruits framed by characteristic Sangiovese tannins and gentle oak. The wine has great persistence and a remarkable balance between fruit, acid and tannin.
The 2014 vintage of Sangiovese is extremely limited and will sell very quickly. Enjoy a bottle today before it disappears!
Check out legendary winemaker and the founder of Balgownie Estate, Stuart Anderson talking to Tony Robinson as Tony explores the historic city of Bendigo on the lastest episode of 'Time Walks' on the ABC.
Stuart discusses his role in the re-establishment of Bendigo as a wine region with his decision to plant the Balgownie Estate vineyard in 1969 at Maiden Gully. And he shares a rare bottle 1980 Balgownie Estate wine!
Watch the full episode here.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most celebrated grape variety renowned for its ability to produce rich, full-bodied wines capable of aging. Cabernet Sauvignon originates from the Gironde region in south-west France. Recent DNA analysis has shown that Cabernet Sauvignon is a natural cross of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc and despite the large plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the world it is thought that this cross occurred as recently as the early 1800s.
Cabernet Sauvignon is widely planted throughout the world except in cooler regions. It produces wines with structure that are deep in colour, as well as high in tannin and acid. Significantly Cabernet Sauvignon retains it recognizable characteristic colour and smell regardless of where it is planted, while still reflecting the vintage conditions of where and when it was grown.
Although Cabernet Sauvignon is often seen as second to Shiraz in Australia, it was one of the first varieties planted by Stuart Anderson in Bendigo in 1969. Stuart identified the site at Myers Creek outside of Bendigo having the ideal climate and soil type for the production of high quality wines especially Cabernet Sauvignon.
The initial plantings at Bendigo occurred in and 1969 and the first vintage of Cabernet was produced in 1972. It was this wine (along with the Shiraz) that built the reputation of Balgownie Estate as a boutique producer of superb red wines that combine power and elegance and have the rare ability to age whilst being approachable when young. The Cabernet Sauvignon has intensity and complexity yet is an honest wine that reflects the well-chosen site at Bendigo and the year in which it was produced.
The current 2013 vintage of the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is faithful to the original style of Stuart Anderson with an intensity of flavour and the intelligent use of oak to support the palate and not dominate it. The palate is beautifully ripe with layers of flavour that extend along its length. A sensational wine of great beauty and concentration that will age for up to 15 years.