I’m sure any one from Australia who reads that will be about as happy as a Canadian who hears, “EH???” or “oot an aboot”. But since it is #AustraliaDay, I am here to celebrate and enjoy a blend I found while out and about hunting for an Aussie wine. The 2011 Schild Estate Old Bush Vine GMS (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Shiraz) was a vintage I wasn’t familiar with, but the Aussie spirit is one of adventure so I scooped it up.
But first a little background one of the grapes and the growing region of Barossa. Most of you are pretty familiar with Shiraz and I’ve written about Grenache in a previous post, so I’ll focus today’s study hall on Mourvèdre grape, and what is an old bush vine. But please be careful if you Google ‘old bush’. In fact, I’ll save you the trouble, don’t Google it at all. Trust me.
The Mourvèdre grape is a tough little contender, and some of the oldest vines in the world are located down under in Australia. Thick-skinned and drought tolerant, it can do very well in hot growing regions and ripens late in the growing season. That makes it a perfect grape for the Barossa appellation (growing region) of South Australia. Barossa is one of six wine producing zones, with two specific regions: the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley. The Barossa Valley has moderate elevated areas with flat valley floors that succumb to very hot summers with temperatures hitting over 95F (30C). Rainfall is modest and with sparse natural water in the soil, irrigation is critical, even though many varietals can sustain and produce amazingly complex wines in drought conditions. While its main varietal is Shiraz, Barossa is home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillion and Voignier. Grenache and Mourvèdre thrive and blend well with Shiraz. If you’ve enjoyed Châteneuf De Pape, you’ve enjoyed this blend.
Barossa old vines are protected under the Barossa Old Vine Charter, instituted to register vineyards by age, ensuring that older, beautifully gnarled vines are preserved, retained and protected from being destroyed.
- Barossa Old Vine ~ => 35 years. The root structure and trunk thickness are very well established, encouraging increased character and diversity of flavor.
- Barossa Survivor Vine ~ => 70 yrs. These vines have weathered very tough storms and are a tribute to the growers and winemakers who prize structure and quality of old vines.
- Barossa Centenarian Vine ~ => 100 years. These vines are resistant to phylloxera, allowing vines to mature into their stunning, gnarled sculpture. They have a lower yield but intense flavor,and are cultivated using dry farming techniques.
- Barossa Ancestor Vine ~ => 125+ years. This is the great, great grandaddy of them all. These vines have been standing loud and proud and are a living tribute to Barossa’s earliest European settlers. The old stocks are the buttress of this wine region, and are some of the oldest producing vines in the world, are dry grown, have low yield but very high intensity in flavor.
What’s an old bush, you ask? It’s any parcel of land in Australia that’s undeveloped or close to the forest or desert.
So how did this wine taste? The nose had a lovely, bright floral vibe with notes of violet. It had a medium mouthfeel and tasted of plum, blackberry compote, rich, Luxardo maraschino cherry, with hints of leather and tobacco on the finish.
Some wines tend to need to sit a while to get their groove on, this one seemed more old world in style; the first sip tasted as good as the last.
Proof positive that things really do get better with age.