Australian Shiraz: 2011 Footbolt and 2010 Elderton

A little less than a year ago, I joined a wine tasting group. We get together every couple of weeks and blind taste, building our palates and our knowledge base. Blind tasting and drinking wine for pleasure are very different things, but the process of going through a wine systematically and categorizing its fruit, structure, body, acidity, tannins and more has increased my pleasure when drinking more than I can say. So when I am drinking for fun, I enjoy drinking two bottles side-by-side to help me build those sense memories. Tonight I wanted to focus on Shiraz, Australian Shiraz.

Shiraz is another name for the grape Syrah, and while Syrah is grown in the Rhone region of France (and honestly, just about everywhere) the name choice implies something more. Shiraz is fruity and inky in the New World, Syrah is earthy and funky in the Old World. The same grape reflects its terroir dramatically. While Syrah from Crozes-Hermitage in France can smell of bacon and leather, Australian Shiraz is known for it's fruity jammy notes with peppery spice.

These two bottles were a complete delight. Fruit forward, with surprisingly little spice. The Footbolt was rich and jammy, loads of soft fruit, integrated tannins, and a juicy easy drinker. The Elderton was much earthier, with jammy fruit up front but more emphasis on the use of oak and a green vegetal note that gave it a a bigger feel than the Footbolt. Both were above the 14% alcohol mark, but neither seemed hot, the alcohol was very well balanced. At less than $20 each, they were a great value to boot.

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