Tasting 151 – January 27, 2014 – Red Blends from Australia – Capri Restaurant


Contents of this post

  1. Presenters and Participants
  2. Wine List
  3. Menu
  4. Wines Details
  5. Regional Notes

1. Presenters and Participants


Clara Estrada, and Jaime Estupinan

Jaime EstupinanClarita Estrada
Jaime, Clarita ♦   The Presenters


Italo Mirkow, Alfonso Sanchez, Jaime Estupinan, Clarita Estrada, Orlando Mason, Rorlando Castañeda, Alvaro Lopez, Jairo Sanchez, Marcelo Averburg, Ruth Conolly, Jorge Garcia, Ricardo Zavaleta, Alfonso Caycedo, Hugo Benito, Ginger Smart, Emilio Labrada, Leonor Barreto, Carlos E. Velez

Birthdays of January:  Clarita Estrada,

2. Wine List

(Reds are not in order of presentation because the tasting is blind)

  1. Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley Riesling 2012
  2. D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier, 2009
  3. Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz Grenache, 2010
  4. 2010 Jim Barry – Cabernet Sauvignon The Cover Drive Coonawarra

3. Menu

1-Mussels in white wine sauce

2-Penne con salciccia

3-Insalata de Caprese

4-Lamb chop with brown sauce

4. Information and Tasting notes on the Wines



In Australia, there are two main red grape varieties that form the base of most  red blends – Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and these are often blended together.

Cabernet Sauvignon-based Australian Red Blends: Cabernet Sauvignon ripens late, and that is the principal reason it is planted with the earlier ripening Merlot in Bordeaux; as an insurance policy for growers, the bonus is that the two make great blending partners. Cabernet Sauvignon’s firm tannin structure ensures that it’s capable of producing wines with good potential to improve with cellaring.

Shiraz-based Australian Red Blends: The blending of Shiraz has its origins in the southern Rhône Valley in France. Here, Grenache is used with smaller amounts of other lesser-known varieties like Mourvèdre to create wines similar to the popular southern ‘GSM’ style reds we see here today. Shiraz Viognier, a blend that is gaining momentum here in Australia, takes its lead from the famous Côte Rôtie wines of the northern Rhône where the cool climate, spicy, elegant Shiraz is enriched with a small addition of the white grape Viognier prior to fermentation.


Many winemakers are now using Viognier with Shiraz. It seems to be a marketing plus to have “Shiraz Viognier” on the label, even if there is only a very small percentage of Viognier. These wines are often not strictly blends as they are made by a process called co-pigmentation. The grapes are mixed prior to fermentation, apparently the effects of the Viognier is to modify the biochemical pathways during fermetation and hence play a role in the final colour intensity and flavour of the wine.

The most interesting blended wines in Australia could turn out to be produced in the ‘Cadenzia‘ project in McLaren Vale. Cadenzia is a marketing name given to Grenache based blends, most often with Shiraz and Mourvedre, but sometimes with a few other varieties. The aim of the marketing is to marry the idea of a particlar blend with the region. There is widespread appreciation already for ‘GSM’ blends, but these are produced in other regions as well, most notably the Barossa.

Selected wines

2012 Pewsley Vale Riesling – Eden Valley, South Australia

Riesling AustrAromas of apple blossom and lime with notes of slate and lifted perfume. This wine is textbook Eden Valley Riesling at its very best. The palate has juicy lemon/lime with hints of rosemary and white flowers. The wine has staying power and a perfectly balanced mineral acidity that just draws the wines line and length out.

Price: $ 17

2010 Jim Barry – Cabernet Sauvignon The Cover Drive, Coonawarra – South Australia

jim barryDeep garnet-purple in color, the 2010 The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon shows off a vibrant, ripe, black cherry and red plum core with notes of cloves and vanilla plus a hint of spice. Medium to full-bodied with medium levels of finely-grained tannins, it has a crisp acid line, good fruit concentration and a nice long, spicy finish. Drink it now to 2017.

Score:  – Wine Advocate 90 pts.                             Price: $20

Glaetzer Wallace Shiraz Grenache, 2010 Barossa Valley

GalezerIntense, Blackberry, Medium-bodied. Bright purple. Intense dark berry and cherry pit aromas are complemented by notes of vanilla, violet and cracked pepper. Juicy and focused, offering spicy blackberry and bitter cherry flavors and a suggestion of candied flowers.”

Score: 91 pts. – Int’l Wine Cellar  Price: $ 22

D’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier, 2009 McLaren Vale –

danbergIntense, Berry, Floral, Spice, Medium-bodied. Medium-deep garnet-purple in color, it offers a pretty nose of intense blueberry and black cherry with an undercurrent of frangipani and peach blossom plus some mace and dried leaves…”

Score:  90 pts. Wine Advocate                                           Price:$22

5. Regional Notes

By Jairo Sánchez

(Information sources include The Wine Bible, Wikipedia and other Internet webpages)

The Australian wine industry is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine with approximately 750 million litres a year to the international export market with only about 40% of production consumed domestically. The wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism.

There is a A$2.8 billion domestic market for Australian wines, with Australians consuming over 530 million litres annually with a per capita consumption of about 30 litres – 50% white table wine, 35% red table wine. Only 16.6% of wine sold domestically is imported.

Wine is produced in every state, with more than 60 designated wine regions totaling approximately 160,000 hectares; however Australia’s wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country, with vineyards located in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. The wine regions in each of these states produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of particular climatic differences, topography and soil types. With the major varieties being predominantly Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Semillon, Pinot noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc. Wines are often labeled with the name of their grape variety

Australian wine industry is characterized by having the biggest per capita wine consumer of English speaking countries; the most High Tech and most mechanized labor; export oriented structure 605/40%; biggest Shiraz grape producer and an impressive growth during the last half of 20 century.

Wines are generally characterized by concentrated flavor in wines (creamy whites and reds packed with fruit

The industry is made of Four very Large companies (50% Production): South Corp. Wines, BRL Hardy, Orlando Whyndham and Mildara Blass ands many medium size producers.


Grape Varieties.

Major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Grenache Mourverdre Chardonnay, Sémillon, Sauvignon blanc, , and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturists, for example Cienna and Tarrango.

About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called “alternative varieties” other than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit Verdot, Pinot grigio, Pinot noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier are becoming more common. Wines from many other varieties are being produced.

Australian winemaking results have been impressive and it has established benchmarks for a number of varietals, such as Chardonnay and Shiraz. Moreover, Australians have innovated in canopy management and other viticultural and in winemaking techniques, and they have a general attitude toward their work that sets them apart from producers in Europe. Australian wine-makers travel the wine world as highly skilled seasonal workers, relocating to the northern hemisphere during the off-season at home. They are an important resource in the globalisation of wine and wine critic Matt Kramer notes that “the most powerful influence in wine today” comes from Australia (Kramer).

Wine Laws

Australia does not have a strict system of laws regulating grape growing and winemaking.

Regulations define: Viticultural regions and govern Labeling

  • If a grape variety is named on the label, 85% of the wine must be composed of the grape named
  • If two wines are used in a blend and neither represents 85% of the total, both grape must be listed on the label in order of importance. Thus a wine labeled cabernet-shiraz has more cabernet than one Shiraz-cabernet
  • Blended wines must also state the percentage of each grape used in the blend
  • If and area, district or region is named in the label, 85% of the wine must come from that place.

Approach to Winemaking and Blends


 Conventional European wisdom holds that good wine comes from specific sites that have distinctive terroir. In Australia, however, many winemakers believe that there is another principle for producing good wines, namely the selection and blending

  • The grapes of many Australian wines do not come from a single place but instead may be grown over vast stretches of territory.
  • Such grapes will be made into separate lots of wine, Then, depending on the quality level, certain lots will be selected and blended together
  • The goal of selecting and blending process is to make brands of wine that have fairly consistent flavors year after year
  • The same process of selecting and blending makes some of the most prestigious wines in Australia
  • The most legendary and expensive wine, Penfold’s Grange is a blend of Shiraz grapes (sometimes blended with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon) grown in various vineyards as many as 300 miles apart. To make Lagrange, Penfolds begin with 40,000 cases of  wine. After selecting the best lots and blending them together few of 7,000 cases of grange were made.

GSM Combination Wines. GSM is a name commonly used in Australia for a red wine consisting of a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre. This blend originated from those used in some Southern Rhône wines, including Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache is the lightest of the three grapes, producing a pale red juice with soft berry scents and a bit of spiciness. As a blending component, it contributes alcohol, warmth and fruitiness without added tannins. Shiraz can contribute full-bodied, fleshy flavors of black fruits and pepper. It adds color, backbone and tannins and provides the sense of balance such blends require. Mourvèdre contributes elegance, structure and acidity to the blend, producing flavors of sweet plums, roasted game and hints of tobacco.

Remember that Australia wine Regions are young compared with Europe and that for multiregional blends, grapes may have come from different regions. For those wines the most important guide to quality is the producer’s name


australia-wine-regions-mapSouth Australia (Perth) Barossa Valley, (Shiraz, Riesling), Eden Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawara, (cabernet Sauvignon) and McLaren Vale

More than 50% of Aust. Wine is produced in South Australia

Main Wine companies, Hardys, Orlando, Penfolds, Peter Lehmann, Seppelt, Wolf Blass, Wynns, and Yalumba and medium size ones as Henschke, Mountadam, Petaluma and Tim Adams

Inexpensive bag in the box wines

New South Wales. (Sidney) is the second leading wine state producer. Hunter Valley, Chardonnay,(Rosemont State) Semillon (Tyrrel’s, Mc William’s Mount Pleasant, Lindemans and Brookenwoods; Mudgee, Cabernet sauvignon (Huntington State). Riverina, Dry and fortified wine and bag in the box wines

Penfolds, Rosemont State

Victoria. Melbourne . Third wine producing state.  Yarra Valley, Geelong, Mornington Penninsula (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir in the south, Cabernet sauvignon, Shiraz), Grampians (Seppet’s Sparklings) Rutherglen, Glenrowan, (Sweet Moscat and Tocays)

Western Australia. Far side of Australia continent, 5000 Km from other wine centers. Margaret River, (Cabs,  from Cape Mantelle, Leeuwin State,and Cullens)   Great southern region, Pemberton, Perth Hills,  Swan Valley.

Bordeaux reds and Whites, (Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc) and Outstanding Chardonnaysand now Verdelho

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