Shiraz, Crozes-Hermitage

Shiraz is a red grape variety. It is the most widely planted variety in Australia and helped put it on the wine map. It is an adaptable grape that has distinctly regional characteristics from elegant, peppery cool climate styles to sweet and chocolatey (McLaren Vale), muscular, and ripe-fruited (Barossa), to savoury and rich (Hunter Valley). Shiraz was one of the first vine varieties to arrive in Australia in 1832 and is grown in most regions. However, its home is in the Barossa Valley where old vines date back to the 1860s.

The classic, truly Australian blend is Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is also blended with Grenache and Mourvedre (GSM) in warmer climates. In recent years it is increasingly being blended with Viognier to create the Shiraz/Viognier blend.

Shiraz's home is in the Northern Rhône's, Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, in France. It is now also 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.
Crozes-Hermitage was officially defined as an appellation in 1937 and is a subregion of the northern Rhône wine region located on the 45th parallel in France. It was expanded in 1952 and became renowned for the many cooperatives there in particular Cave de Tain and Jaboulet. The region produces more wine than the seven other appellations in the northern Rhone combined.

It's the largest appellation in the northern Rhone and produces mostly (90%) Syrah wines though lesser amounts of the white varieties Roussane and Marsanne are grown (10%). The Roussanne and Marsanne are either co-fermented with Syrah or made as white wines as straight varietals or as a blend. The area to the north of Tain L'Hermitage has a very favorable mesoclimate with warmth-retaining granite bedrock, producing richer wines with more complexity than those from the generally flatter lands of the south.

To the north, Crozes-Hermitage's climate is temperate with an almost constant wind that blows and dries the air along the Rhône corridor. When the wind blows from the north, along come fine weather and much needed freshness in the hot summer months, and a biting cold in winter. on the other hand a southerly wind tends to be followed by storms, particularly in summer. Further south the Mediterranean climate’s influence plays a bigger part. The southern parts of Crozes-Hermitage experience very high annual sunshine hours and particularly hot, dry, summers. Annual rainfall is moderate throughout the region with most notable downpours occurring at the end of summer.

The wines from Crozes-Hermitage can be wonderfully aromatic and a considerable bargain when compared to their Hermitage counterparts. Although they are generally less complex than the wines from Hermitage, the wines can have plenty of bright fruit aromas and good structure.
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