2013 Cabernet Shiraz
Blending Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah has an interesting history. On my recent visit to Australia I went to Tabilk winery in Victoria and they believe they were the first in Australia to blend the two varieties together, doing so in 1957 and ’58. There is evidence that Syrah from Hermitage in the northern Rhône was often blended with Bordeaux wines in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries to bolster the color and structure of claret. In cooler years Cabernet sauvignon can have difficulty ripening and as the Syrah requires less heat to ripen, it will have better color and more alcohol to help out the Cabernet. “The Lafitte of 1795, which was made up with Hermitage, was the best-liked wine of any of that year,” wrote Bordeaux wine merchant Nathaniel Johnson in the early 1800s. Elsewhere in Bordeaux, Chateau Palmer has records of their wine having some Hermitage on a number of occasions and more recently in 2014 Chateau La Lagune has worked with the Jaboulet winery of Hermitage to make a 50/50 blend in 2010 called “Evidence”.
The reason for the blend is the Syrah fills out the palate of the otherwise lean Cabernet Sauvignon, although this is done traditionally in Bordeaux using Merlot. With the absence of Merlot in Australia in the past, it quickly became the rule to use the more readily available Shiraz. I’ve been making this blend since 2005, with the amount of Syrah being in the range 20-40%. The Syrah has usually been from here around the winery and the Cabernet Sauvignon has always come from the McGraw vineyard (the McGraw Cabernet was included in last Fall’s shipment). This version has a fabulous dark color and leads with aromas of cassis and some vanilla. While having the elegance to make it a great food pairing now, there is enough structure hidden under the fruit to allow the wine to hold and improve in the cellar for another 10 years. The 2005 version is drinking wonderfully and I think this wine is ultimately better than that ’05 due to our better understanding of the vineyard.