Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wallace by Ben Glaetzer Barossa Valley Shiraz-Grenache 2007

I must confess that I have never been a huge fan of Australian wine. Nothing against the country or the terroir there, but the very problem is that most of the wine we see from Australia has no terroir. It is mass produced and over manipulated wine, and drinking the wine itself reveals nothing about where its from. Most of the big name (and just plain big) wineries are making wine in the laboratory rather than in the vineyard.

Every once in awhile in the wine industry, unfortunate events happen that end up causing something good in the end. In Australia I believe that the worldwide economic recession coupled with over production is doing exactly that. The big industrial farming/winemaking powerhouses are starting to have trouble selling all their production , and we're beginning to see a movement in Australia towards smaller wineries who are producing wine in the vineyard rather than in the chemistry lab.

Wallace by Ben Glaetzer is a great example of some of the good things happening with this change in market for Australian wines. This family owned winery focuses on small volume, high quality wines, and this Shiraz-Grenache certainly fits the mold. Made from 80% Shiraz and 20% Grenache, all the fruit is sourced from the Ebenezer sub-region of the norther Barossa Valley from very old vines (80 to 120 years old). The Shiraz is aged in 80% French and 20% American oak that is mostly 2 to 3 years old. The Grenache component sees no oak at all. Put it all together and you get a very good and very interesting wine.

In your glass you see a beautiful intense purple color. The nose has Bing cherry and plum aromas with a wonderful earthy undertone that is so rare to find in an Aussie Shiraz. The blend of intense fruit aromas with earthiness is very unique, and I think it works perfectly. On the palate you get more of the same cherry and plum flavors with the black pepper that you expect from a nice Shiraz. The earthiness still comes through, but it's much more subtle than on the nose. The mouthfeel is rich and full with smooth tannins. Overall this is a very unique wine that gives an unusual combination of New World fruit with Old World earthiness. If someone tried to sell this concept to me, I probably wouldn't buy it, but surprisingly I think it works great. At a price just under $20, this is a pretty solid value for your money.

From a pairing standpoint, this would go very well with grilled red meat - especially barbecue, so put some ribs on the barbie and try an Aussie wine that is unique and delicious.


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