RE­GION BRINGS FRENCH FLAIR

NO LONGER DO WE HAVE TO TRAVEL TO THE OTHER SIDE OF GLOBE TO SAM­PLE A DROP OF CHATEAUNEU­F -DU-PAPE

Life & Style Weekend - - FOOD & WINE - WORDS: TRAVIS SCHULZ To read more Travis Schultz wine re­views, go to traviss­chultz.com.au.

Fans of the com­edy se­ries, Frasier, would be ac­quainted with the French style, Chateauneu­f-du-pape; the red wine that Frasier Crane is fre­quently ob­served or­der­ing while eating out at French restau­rants.

It’s a blend of red va­ri­etals from a re­gion in the south­ern Rhone area near Avi­gnon which was granted its own ap­pel­la­tion by the gov­ern­ing AOC body in 1936.

It’s not just a fave of TV comics, as the blend en­joys in­ter­na­tional ac­claim for its earthy and savoury char­ac­ters and beau­ti­ful bal­ance of fruit and tan­nin.

But like many iconic French wines, a good bot­tle will set you back a pretty penny and the prod­uct of the more famed pro­duc­ers is priced out of reach for most of us.

The good news is the “Aus­tralian ver­sion” of Chateauneu­f-du-pape is not just de­li­cious, but also in­ex­pen­sive.

While many re­gions will pro­duce a so called “GSM” blend, the Barossa Val­ley in South Aus­tralia is per­haps the premier pro­ducer of grenche and shi­raz in the coun­try.

So it stands to rea­son that if you are look­ing for high qual­ity gre­nache, shi­raz and

mataro (or mourve­dre) fruit, then the val­ley to the north east of Ade­laide is the ob­vi­ous place to start your search.

While the wine­mak­ers of the south­ern Rhone are bound by AOC rules to use and blend any of nine dif­fer­ent red va­ri­etals, they typ­i­cally make blends that are dom­i­nated by gre­nache and sup­ported by vary­ing amounts of syrah (shi­raz), mourve­dre (we call it mataro) and a few other “bit play­ers” like cin­sault.

Per­haps one rea­son for the dom­i­nance of gre­nache in the French style is the sheer volume of gre­nache they grow – it ac­counts for more than 70 per cent of vines in the re­gion.

In the Barossa, shi­raz is the dom­i­nant grape by area un­der vine by a large mar­gin. So it prob­a­bly makes sense that many wine­mak­ers pre­fer to make a “SGM” blend in which shi­raz dom­i­nates.

But if you ask me, to bor­row an Aussie col­lo­qui­al­ism, that’s just not cricket! I much pre­fer a Rhone blend in which the per­fumed gre­nache can open the bat­ting.

Dur­ing a re­cent visit to the Barossa, I tried more than a few of our ver­sion of the South­ern Rhone blend, and one of the stand-outs was from a win­ery in Greenock called Mur­ray Street Vine­yards.

Their ver­sion of the “Holy Trin­ity” sells about $30 a bot­tle and is a very ap­proach­able wine in its youth. Sold un­der the name 2017 Red La­bel The Barossa, the blend is 60 per cent gre­nache, 38 per cent shi­raz and laced with 2 per cent mataro.

There’s lit­tle of the stalky leath­ery char­ac­ters that are of­ten seen in the French ver­sion of the famed blend, but plenty of spice on the mid-palate to tit­il­late the taste­buds. The gre­nache lifts the nose with hints of mul­berry and red­cur­rants up front, while the shi­raz adds body and flavours of plum and stewed cher­ries to the mid­dle.

In true Barossa form, there’s a de­light­ful jammy ripeness to the con­clu­sion, but enough tan­nin and savoury char­ac­ters to bal­ance the ripeness of the fruit.

Any­one got Frasier Crane’s postal ad­dress? If he en­joys a Chateauneu­f-du-pape, I reckon he’d love this one.

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