The rise of cool-climate shiraz

Craggy Range and Te Mata Peak, Hawke's Bay.
Craggy Range and Te Mata Peak, Hawke's Bay. Photo: Hawke's Bay Tourism

With the climate warming and carbon dioxide levels rising, grape varieties previously deemed too late-ripening for cold climates are not only ripening in cool regions, but often with spectacular results. Shiraz in southerly New Zealand and Tasmania are examples. The Apple Isle overturned the apple-cart a few years ago when Glaetzer-Dixon shiraz won the Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards. And New Zealand, which couldn't make red wine to save itself 40 years ago when hybrid varieties were still in use, not only makes great pinot noir but also astonishing shiraz (syrah) in Hawke's Bay and Martinborough. There's some good news in climate change.

Waterton Hall 20 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2017, Tasmania, $45 

Score 93

From a warm site at Rowella in the Tamar Valley comes this impressive shiraz. The colour is deep red-purple and it has a note of clove and a kiss of toasty oak. It's full-bodied and fleshy, rich and ripe and lush, with delicious flavour and palate structure. Screw-cap; 12.6 per cent alcohol.

Waterton Hall 20 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2017.
Waterton Hall 20 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2017. Photo: Supplied

Ageing? Drink now to 10-plus years.

Stockists include Rose Bay Drive In Liquor Store (NSW); watertonhall.com.au.

Port Phillip Estate Shiraz 2016, Mornington Peninsula, $39 

Score 93

Hotter seasons like 2016 favour shiraz in this cool location. Very youthful, deep, saturated red-purple colour with a powerful, concentrated pepper and spice fragrance. The wine is elegant, medium to full-bodied, with savoury, drying tannins. It's surprisingly full-bodied considering the region. Screw-cap; 14 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to 2032.

Stockists include portphillipestate.com.au; Boccaccio Cellars, Balwyn (Vic). 

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Craggy Range Gimblett Gravels Vineyard Syrah 2016, Hawke's Bay, NZ, $45 

Score 97 

With its deep, bold, purple-red colour, this boasts a powerful scent of ripe, spicy, plummy fruit and sweet oak, with traces of nutmeg and other spices. It's full-bodied and firm, with lashings of tannin and a grip that lasts long on the farewell. A powerful, concentrated wine that cries out for a little cellaring. Screw-cap; 13 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Best 2020 to 2036.

Stockists include Templestowe Cellars (Vic); Chambers Cellars, Avalon (NSW).