Meet the winemaker

Q&A: What makes a great shiraz wine?

By Halliday Promotion

21 Jun, 2018

We consult shiraz specialists on what it takes to make an exceptional wine, the characteristics to look out for and the examples to try.


Chief winemaker Craig Stansborough

Craig Stansborough at Grant Burge: Getting back to basics

Nestled in the heart of the Barossa Valley, Grant Burge has been crafting beautifully balanced shiraz wines for decades. We get the lowdown on the lusciousness of the South Australian style from chief winemaker Craig Stansborough, who has been with Grant Burge for more than 20 years.

Q: What are the key characteristics of a good wine and, specifically, a great shiraz wine?
A: In terms of a checklist, you can really break it back to three simple elements: aroma, flavour and texture. If you can tick those boxes, you probably have a balanced wine, with everything in its right place. For shiraz, great colour, powerful fruit aromas, good mouth-feel and persistence are what you’re after – it should be effortless to drink. If it has those facets, you have a good bottle of wine.

Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz

Q: The Barossa Valley is famed for its shiraz. What makes it special?
A: The region’s diversity of soils and fruit expressions, together with the Mediterranean climate and 100-year-old vines, provide the perfect environment to create wines full of rich, generous flavours. The Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz reflects these qualities.

Wine to try: Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2012



Winemaker Mark Hunter Sanguine Estate

Mark Hunter at Sanguine Estate: Bringing it all together

Sanguine Estate starts with a solid foundation in its vineyards and then approaches the winemaking like an intricate puzzle, with each wine presenting an individual picture. Hear from winemaker Mark Hunter on the continuous experimentation and improvement of this top Heathcote shiraz.

Q: What’s your process for crafting Sanguine’s shiraz wines?
A: Getting it right in the vineyard is vital, then fermenting lots of small batches in the winery and utilising an array of winemaking techniques gives me the best chance at making a great expression of Heathcote shiraz. There’s no set formula – I’m constantly experimenting and adjusting.

Sanguine Estate d'Orsa Shiraz

Q: What characters can we expect from Sanguine shiraz?
A: A rich core of blueberries and blackberries, plus a hint of pepper and spice. There’s always a distinct, ferrous-like minerality and firm-but-fine-grained tannins with shiraz from the Sanguine vineyard.

Wine to try: Sanguine Estate d’Orsa Shiraz 2015



Winemaker Rob Heywood Taltarni

Robert Heywood at Taltarni: Showing its true colours

Taltarni focuses on typicity, crafting shiraz wines true to geographical and varietal character. For drinkers wanting to understand shiraz, as well as the styles coming out of the Pyrenees wine region of Victoria, Taltarni is a great place to look. Hear more from Robert Heywood ahead.

Taltarni Reserve Shiraz Cabernet

Q: Tell us about your approach to shiraz.
A: We look to show the terroir of the estate and present a wine with true varietal expression. To us, it’s about delivering the profile of the region together with an authentic representation of the grape.

Q: What shiraz characteristics are particular to the Pyrenees?
A: Mint, spice and beautiful fruit. Our reserve wine delivers on all fronts.

Wine to try: Taltarni Pyrenees Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2016



Winemaker Willy Lunn Yering Station

Willy Lunn at Yering Station: Staying cool, calm and collected

Shiraz is an increasingly important variety in Victoria's Yarra Valley and its wineries are turning out some cracking examples. Yering Station is one such winery that’s creating benchmark Yarra Valley shiraz that's luscious, perfumed, and with incredible balance and structure.

Q: What is the influence of the cooler Yarra Valley climate on your shiraz?
A: It has a savoury edge: blackberries, star anise and spices such as pepper are typical.

Yering Station Shiraz Viognier

Q: How do you make shiraz at Yering Station?
A: In the vineyard, we await full ripeness and in the winery, we treat gently. Most vintages, we co-ferment our shiraz with a small percentage of viognier to further enhance its body and texture. The final blend, however, is always determined by flavour.

Wine to try: Yering Station Reserve Shiraz Viognier 2015



Winemaker Travis Clydesdale Mitchelton

Travis Clydesdale at Mitchelton: Highlighting its Heathcote heritage

Central Victoria’s wine country has a rich history and woven into its fabric are some very special wines. The Cambrian soils of Heathcote are renowned for producing distinctive red wines, with a particular focus on shiraz. These red soils grafted to Rhone vines are one of a kind.  

Q: Tell us about your approach to shiraz.
A: Showcasing the place is all-important. It all starts with the vineyard, so we first identify sites within the Heathcote that feature those prized Cambrian soils. In the winery, we focus on extraction and maturation, highlighting the ripe fruit and typically round, full tannin profile.

Mitchelton Heathcote Shiraz

Q: Since place is so key, what’s distinct about Heathcote shiraz?
A: Shiraz from the region typically displays lifted, spicy berry aromas, plus hints of chocolate and mint. The palate has a fusion of berry fruits and savoury spices, with smoothly integrated tannin and balanced acidity.

Wine to try: Mitchelton Heathcote Shiraz 2015