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2008 La Pleiade, M. Chapoutier Laughton
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A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.
After South Australia and New South Wales, Victoria is the country's third most important viticultural state, responsible for 23 percent of the vines. Notable fine wine regions include the Yarra Valley (a prime spot for Pinot Noir), Sunbury (Chardonnay, Shiraz), Heathcote (Shiraz), Macedon Ranges and Rutherglen (Liqueur Muscats).
Victoria has a long history of vineyard settlements, although much was destroyed by Phylloxera in the late 19th century. Apart from hot Rutherglen, the Victorian viticultural regions are generally the country's second coolest after Tasmania. Victoria is the source of excellent sparkling wines, as well as being a great area for sweet, fortified wines such as liqueur Muscat from Rutherglen in north-east Victoria.