Wine lovers come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of technical knowledge. “You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the taste of a good wine,” says Manor Estate’s Peter Cap, “but knowing a little about different wine varieties will help you to find what you like.” To Peter, helping wine-lovers to understand their favourite beverage is part of the winemaking art he practices. “It’s about enhancing the overall experience,” says Peter, “and it’s why Manor Estate produced its own made-for-TV series on how to enjoy wine to the full.”
Peter’s winery, Manor Estate, produces the self-indulgent wines branded as “ME” wines, and his Shiraz is an international award winner. However, even wine fanciers who know they like a Shiraz may wonder just what earns this red wine its name. It all comes down to the grapes and where they’re grown says Peter.
A French Grape Variety Makes Itself at Home in Warmer Climes
Shiraz, explains Peter, comes from a historic French grape variety that’s known as Syrah in its birthplace. It grows well in warmer climates, expressing its flavour somewhat differently than it did back home in France. “Even in Australia, there are wines made from Syrah grapes that have the more acidic overtones and peppery aroma that the French versions do. The Yarra Valley wines are more like a Syrah than a warm-climate Shiraz. In McLaren Vale, the flavour is fruitier and if there is to be a distinction between Shiraz and Syrah wines, those would be the characteristics that differentiate them from each other.”
Shiraz: Among The Darkest of All Reds
The colour of Shiraz (or Syrah) wines is quite distinctive. Peter demonstrates the dark hue by holding a glass up to the light. The dark liquid is a deep red that’s almost black, and that’s in line, says Peter, with the berry flavours for which the wine is famed. He notes that Australians love their Shiraz wines and that Shiraz grapes are among the most widely grown in Australia. “Americans enjoy their Shiraz too,” he says, reflecting on the success Manor Estates achieved in the USA where it rapidly earned a reputation as a producer of exceptionally good wines suitable for serving to the “beautiful people” in Manhattan’s most luxurious venues.
Shiraz Flavour: Full-Bodied, Bold, and Dry
Red meats and red wine are a classic pairing, but Peter Cap says there’s more to Shiraz than just that. “Shiraz wines have a bold flavour, and they complement foods that have a bold flavour too. Aged cheese, for example, smoked meats, and the richness of duck are better when enjoyed with Shiraz wines, and the tannins help to cut through the fattiness of lamb. From the barbeque to the gourmet dinner, and from starters to desserts, there’s always room for a Shiraz in the wine selection.”
More Than Just the Grapes
At Manor Estate, Peter insists on ageing wines according to time-honoured traditions. “Good quality Shiraz starts with selecting the best wine grapes, but it doesn’t end there,” he explains. “There’s no substitute for the flavour of a wine aged in oak barrels and given time to develop its flavours naturally. It’s possible to fast-track wine production, but the difference lies in the taste.”
Another component of a great Shiraz is often overlooked. Yeast is used in the fermentation of wine, but there are many variants, and according to Peter Cap, the original French strain of yeast produces superior results.
From the consumer’s perspective, the temperature of the wine will also affect the way its taste is experienced. Peter recommends refrigerating Shiraz for 15 minutes before serving. “Most people serve it too warm,” he warns, “and that means they aren’t getting the most out of their Shiraz.”
“It begins with Shiraz grapes,” says Peter, “but that’s just the start. From how the wine is made to details like the choice of glassware, the temperature it is served at, and the foods with which it is paired, a little understanding of the art of making and enjoying wine will enhance your choices and maximise your enjoyment of Shiraz wines.”
Manor estate offers wine events, a romantic wedding venue and luxury accommodation in McLaren Vale. For more information, or to buy wine online, or join their wine club, visit the Manor Estate Wines website or call their team of experts on (08) 8383 7300.