Shiraz: South Africa’s Bellingham -v- Australia’s Barossa Valley Estate

So we’ve had South Africa -v- the Loire on the blancs, Sauvignon and Chenin.  What about this pair of seemingly evenly price matched Shiraz, tasted blind for fun? 

Bellingham The Bernard Series Basket Press Syrah 2006 (Stellenbosch) – deep ruby, a warm, earthy, oaky toast and mocha-edged nose, with sweet vanilla to its creamy cassis, plum and red berry fruit, which notes follow through on the palate.  Quite expansive with a firm frame of tannins, though there’s marked acidity (reasonably well integrated) to balance.  It’s a touch dusty/woody on the finish, but of the pair, it’s the gutsier and more characterful with its Renosterveld balmy (as in tiger balm spicy) fynbos finish.  Teamed well with a really spicy fennel and red pepper tagine.  £9.99 at Sainsbury’s

Barossa Valley Estate St Kits Shiraz 2009 (Barossa Valley)  – a new wine release from Barossa Valley Estates, deeper purple, with bright ripe raspberry fruit, teetering on raspberry ripple with boiled cherry sweets.  In the mouth it shows sweet ripe but juicy, minted raspberry and cherry fruit, cherry lips even.  Juicy, angular even, acidity and savoury oak tannins keep the confection notes in check.  On the lighter side of mid-weight, it’s a little closer in style to a Barossa Grenache than a Shiraz in terms of its very cherry quality, confection notes and smooth tannins.    £8.99 down to £6.99 at, (28th July to 17th August) at The Co-op.

My verdict?  The Bellingham’s generosity and character won me over and I think it’s more aligned with consumer’s expectations of Shiraz.  It gets my vote. In contrast, I think the Barossa Valley Estate’s Shiraz might fox consumers who are expecting a little more padding – fruit weight and concentration – from the Barossa.  That said, it’s got summer appeal and, at £6.99, represents fair value.

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