Raise a glass of organic red on Shiraz Day

Australia celebrates Shiraz Day on July 22 and it’s the perfect time to sip one of our oldest and most iconic wine varietals.

The inaugural Shiraz Day was launched last year by Mastermind Consulting, which realised that while there were international celebrations of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Rosé, just to name a few, Shiraz didn’t have a day to call its own. The event is now held on the fourth Thursday of July each year.

Mastermind Consulting CEO Trish Barry noted: “We were so thrilled to see the Australian wine industry along with so many brands rally behind the first Shiraz wine day last year. Our most popular red grape varietal deserves to be put in the spotlight, particularly at the heart of red wine drinking season.”

With organic shiraz sales on the rise, Drinks Digest spoke to Tony Ingle, Chief Winemaker at Angove Family Winemakers in McLaren Vale, about what makes the wine so flavourful and the drop he’ll be drinking on Shiraz Day.

“Although every day is shiraz day here at Angove Organic, Shiraz Day is a wonderful opportunity for the wine community to come together and celebrate the workhorse that sometimes gets missed as we delight in more media friendly varieties,” Ingle said.

Shiraz was one of the original grape varieties brought into Australia and the main contributor to the increase in the red grape crush this year, up by 41% to a record 538,402 tonnes. Ingle attributes the rise to the varietal being a great example of natural selection.

“It is able to adapt to many different climates and soils,” he noted. “Cool climates in the higher latitudes and higher altitudes of the Adelaide hills to the warmer inland regions of South Australia’s Riverland or beachside Mediterranean climate of McLaren Vale, Shiraz thrives and produces unique flavourful wines.

According to the Australian Organic Market Report 2021, organic wine now accounts for 10% of Australian organic exports. South Australia has the highest percentage of organic grape producers for wine, with 39% located in the state.

Angove Family Winemakers is Australia’s top organic producers. In April it revealed it had experienced a 30% surge in organic wine sales in the past year. Ingle said Shiraz is “always going to be a rock” for the Angove sales team.

“It is a massive part of our Australian sales, but overseas we also see Cabernet Sauvignon and white varieties remain popular and share the limelight,” he explained. “Shiraz Day will be a great chance to give Shiraz the spotlight.”

Ingle (above) will be opening a bottle of Angove’s Warboys Vineyard Shiraz on July 22, which he describes as taking up “a lot of care and coddling in the vineyard and the winery”.

“No nasty pesticides or synthetic fertilisers are used, the wine is a pure expression of our idyllic small vineyard in McLaren Vale,” he said. “Opening a bottle like this allows me to time travel back to the growing season, the days when we picked the grapes and the time as we nurtured the wine through our basket press and into the French Oak barrels in our cool barrel store. Each year we get visitors to help us during vintage and opening the wine will bring back memories of them and think about what they are up to now. We had two people help during the 2018 vintage wine, one who is at uni in Adelaide, another working in Northern Italy, it’s a great reminder to check in with them and catch up.”

Ingle said the wine lends itself to lots of different foods.

“I will probably serve it with a mushroom ragu with some soft polenta, although a slow cooked shoulder of lamb would be great for those who need some meat in the cool weather,” he revealed.

As for what goes into making Shiraz Certified Organic and how it benefits wine drinkers, Ingle noted that it’s what Angove leaves out that makes its wine so good.

“No pesticides or herbicides, no synthetic fertilisers or fining agents, in fact our Certified Organic wines are vegan and gluten free too,” he said. “Preservatives are kept low to comply with the Organic standard. The whole process helps us express the pure flavours of this great variety which develop from the unadulterated soil where it is grown.”

Ingle said Angove experienced a great vintage in 2021, with the growing season being cooler and wetter than usual, without the peaks of heat McLaren Vale normally gets in January and February.

“Everything just went well which was nice after the trials of 2020,” he concluded. “The wines are lovely and are now resting in tank and barrel settling down before we wake them up again in spring. The whites look vibrant and will be delicious over summer and the reds have a little time before blending and release next year or the year after.”

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Categories: Lifestyle