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by Fred McMillin
for October 30, 2000

 

Shiraz Huzzahs


Prologue

What has been consistently the best Australian Shiraz my panel has tasted through the last decade? Here's its history.


The Rest of the Story

1988—Chief winemaker for Rosemount, Philip Shaw, recognizes that he is getting some rare, old-vine Shiraz (Syrah) grapes from the McLaren Vale (valley) west of Melbourne in southern Australia.

1989—For the first time, Philip makes a wine solely from those grapes. It is called the 1989 Show Reserve Shiraz.

1991—My panel will taste the '91 Show Reserve in 1994 and I will publish a very favorable review of it in the San Francisco Independent.

Casablanca

Mrs. McMillin learning how to make couscous in Casablanca.

1992—Starting with this vintage, Rosemount changes the name to Balmoral Syrah (no longer Shiraz). It soon becomes the Rosemount flagship wine. Later, my panel would give it the highest score they ever awarded a Shiraz-Syrah, a 93.

1993—The Wine Spectator would give it a 90 rating.

1995—This vintage would win BEST OF NATION award at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

1996—Later my panel would give this year a 93 rating, again.

1997—This vintage is our...


Wine of the Day

1997 Balmoral Syrah, McLaren Vale, Australia
Rosemount Estates, Inc. U.S.A.
Contacts: Judy Martinez (707) 996-4505, FX (707) 996-5063 and Sam Folsom (415) 399-1138, FX (415) 989-2908
Food Selection—I chose a Harvey Steiman (Wine Spectator) recommendation for substantial Syrahs...Duck Breast au Poire and Couscous...since my wife learned to make a fine couscous on location, (see photo).
Ratings—My panel gave the Balmoral an EXCELLENT, and I gave the pairing with duck and couscous an EXCELLENT, also.
Price—$50 range


Postscript

When I lived in Iran, the best wine I drank was in the ancient Persian town of Shiraz, where the vine originated. The varietal made its way to the Rhone Valley by the 13th century, and to Australia in 1832.

I got to wondering if France's greatest gastronome, Brillat-Savarin knew about the varietal in Paris after the French Revolution. Reviewing his landmark Physiology of Taste (25 years in the writing), he describes the development of a new food phenomenon, the first restaurants. One could select from many dishes and from a list of thirty wines. Then he lists sources for the restaurant storeroom...he mentions one wine from Asia. SHIRAZ!

 

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 
 


 
 

This page created October 2000

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