Shiraz is known to produce wines with ample fruit and tannins that ensure good maturation potential.
From approximately 22/23° B sugar accumulates rapidly and care has to be taken to monitor grapes regularly to harvest with the style and end result in mind.
As said earlier, viticultural practices play a major role in determining the eventual style of wine. However the various techniques a producer can employ in the cellar also have a huge impact on the style of wine.
The following is a broad spectrum of styles:
Bold, full-bodied wines with ripe plum and berry flavours such as raspberry and black currant – usually obtained from vineyards with an open canopy, medium yield and grapes maturing to full ripeness
Elegant wines with good fruit, spicy aromas and a full aftertaste – usually obtained from fairly low production vineyards
Lighter-styled wines with a less pronounced fruit character but good balance on the palate – obtained from vineyards with higher production but well-managed to produce a more open canopy
Grapes from virus-infected vineyards will produce poor quality wines and should be avoided at all costs.
Use of Oak
Winemakers use a wide variety of techniques when utilising oak in the production and maturation of Shiraz.
Three kinds of oak play an important role in winemaking:
European oak, Quercus robur and Quercus sessilis
American oak, Quercus alba.
Traditionally European oak of origin, predominantly French, have been used by winemakers with American oak gaining more and more ground and Hungarian oak offering a less expensive, good quality alternative. Substitutes in the form of staves, chips, barrel inserts etc. offer the winemaker considerable savings over new barrels.
Aspects that play an important role in the influence of wood on the wine are e.g. the type of wood used, manufacturing techniques and size and age of the barrel. Of course the period of time the wine is aged and the character of a specific vintage will also play a role while wine-making techniques are equally important.
Flavours derived from oak include:
Various levels of toasting are available and light toast, medium toast and heavy toast are terms normally used but nowadays cooperages toast to the customer’s specifications.