Wine­mak­ers from the other side of the coun­try are lead­ing the way in red wine

Noosa Life and Style - - FOOD - TRAVIS SCHULTZ

There’s nat­u­rally a de­gree of hes­i­ta­tion in ex­press­ing an opin­ion about wine, wine re­gions and wine­mak­ers. After all, opin­ions are rather self-in­dul­gent and of­ten ill-con­sid­ered, half-baked and formed in ig­no­rance of the facts. So when I was re­cently asked for my view as to which re­gion pro­duces the best shi­raz in Aus­tralia, I baulked. How do you com­pare ap­ples and or­anges and why should one style or pro­file nec­es­sar­ily be con­sid­ered su­pe­rior to an­other? And how can it be fair to com­pare shi­raz from cool or high-alti­tude cli­mates with those from a warmer or Mediter­ranean zone? Well, I guess it’s just an opin­ion and I’m up for the dis­cus­sion. But I’m go­ing to of­fend my good friends in South Aus­tralia. And also those in New South Wales’ Hunter Val­ley and Vic­to­ria’s Yarra re­gion. And I apol­o­gise un­re­servedly to the Tas­ma­nian pro­ducers who do a ster­ling job of craft­ing fine reds in their cool cli­mate. But for the mo­ment at least, I reckon that some of the best shi­raz in the coun­try is born in the rather re­mote Fran­k­land River re­gion in south­ern West Aus­tralia. The Fran­k­land River dis­trict is part of the Great South­ern re­gion sit­ting in­land from Man­jimup, about four to five hours from Perth. The cli­mate is rather Mediter­raneanesqu­e as long, warm sunny days and cool nights pro­vide an ideal en­v­i­ron for pro­duc­tion of plump, ripe berries. With about 1600ha un­der vine, the sub-re­gion is one of the largest in West­ern Aus­tralia as well as be­ing one of the old­est in the state. For me, the beauty of the re­gional shi­raz is the power of the fruit, the dis­tinc­tive black pep­per char­ac­ters on the con­clu­sion, and its pres­ence and charm on the palate. One of the largest and old­est winer­ies of the sub-re­gion is Alkoomi, which was first planted in 1971. The cus­to­di­ans of the Hal­lett fam­ily’s op­er­a­tion are third-gen­er­a­tion vi­gnerons Sandy and Rod Hal­lett worka­long­side their three daugh­ters. Their range in­cludes ries­ling and mul­ti­ple shi­raz but it’s their 2011 Jar­rah Shi­raz that re­cently cap­tured my at­ten­tion. The depth of fruit is tele­graphed by the deep crim­son colour in the glass be­fore lus­cious pre­served plums and dark cher­ries emerge the mo­ment it passes your lips.

One of the largest and old­est winer­ies is Alkoomi, which was first planted in 1971.

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