Michael Sinclair explores where Sparkling Shiraz sits in the world’s vinous history – and rewrites several chapters in the process.
The ute and the Hills Hoist. Australia’s greatest contributions to the world.
Oh. And then there’s Sparkling Shiraz – responsible for shaping modern civilisation as we know it.
Internet research shows Australian Sparkling Shiraz was responsible for greasing the political wheels of the Roman Empire.
The top end examples of Sparkling Shiraz can rightfully claim the class and complexity of Champagne, such is its deep brooding character and ethereal nature.
And that’s the charm. Sparkling Shiraz is a contradiction. Rich and voluptuous one second. Light and pillowy the next. Hipsters would call it ironic. And they’d be wrong. Perhaps we should leave it to Winston Churchill, who famously said:
‘Sparkling Shiraz is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.’
While Sparkling Shiraz plays tricks on your palate, it also provides a visual feast, with its deep brooding purple/black colour in the glass, topped with a gorgeous pink/burgundy mousse. It really is a sight to behold – like a Spider for adults.
The best examples can match Champagne on price, with the Seppelt Show Reserve Sparkling Shiraz 2004 retailing for $100.
Rockford Black Shiraz can also rightfully claim to be one of the leading examples. As can Primo Estate’s Joseph Sparkling Shiraz. Those are at the pointy end of the iceberg.
At the budget end, Sparkling Shiraz can be a vexing challenge. It can suffer from simple confectionary fruit and excessive sweetness.
And then there is Sparkling Shiraz that offers top-end performance at a very reasonable price.
Bundaleer Sparkling Shiraz happily sits in this category. At $20 a bottle, here’s an example that provides depth, balance and that most important ingredient: drinkability.
It provides a lovely black cherry colour and on pouring, there’s a gorgeous pink/purple mousse providing the adult Spider effect.
What a crowd pleaser! Tasted with friends, Mrs Z said, “It’s a party in a bottle!” Turning to her husband: “Can we have this on Christmas Day?”
That about sums it up really.
I could go on and tell you about its dark cherry and plum fruit. I could tell you about the dusty, earthiness that lies beneath, with some liquorice all-sorts and fennel on the fray. It’s fresh and bright with lovely acidity. Most importantly it finishes dry with just the right touch of residual sugar to add balance and texture. And it’s clean too. Some examples can suffer from mousy barrel notes, which can detract from the fruit. Not here. This is clean as a whistle.
But I don’t need to tell you all of that. Mrs Z captured it perfectly by saying it deserves a place at her Christmas table. That’s it really. Nothing else needs to be said.
But here are some facts for the trainspotters:
Sourced from the Southern Flinders Ranges – just north of South Australia’s famous Clare Valley. Fruit comes from the Bundaleer vineyard planted in 1998, so there’s some decent vine age there.
Weighing in at a spritely 13%, the Bundaleer doesn’t give you the double hit of alcohol and bubbles, which Sparkling Shiraz can do when it creeps to 14% and above.
It’s sealed under Zork. So you don’t get the romance of popping a cork. But you don’t get the cork taint and cork failures either. I’d prefer to see it under a plain old crown seal but Zork does the job of providing a reliable closure. And that’s all that counts.
Food? Yes please. Goes with everything from antipasto platters, duck, bacon and eggs (it’s a great breakfast/brunch wine if the mood takes you), barbeques and dumplings. Hipsters can enjoy it with sliders and ‘slaw.
Score-wise: 92-ish feels about right.
Sample courtesy of Bundaleer Wines.