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Leesa Mealing
19 July 2024 | Leesa Mealing

The History of Shiraz in the Hunter Valley, Australia

To celebrate the upcoming Shiraz Day on 25th July 2024, we are diving into the history of Australian and Hunter Valley Shiraz...

In 1823, 20 acres of grapevines were planted along the northern riverbanks of the Hunter River by early European settlers. Previously this area’s first inhabitants were the Wonnarua people who occupied the Upper Hunter Valley for at least 30,000 years.

When James Busby returned from Europe in 1832 with over 20,000 vine cuttings and distributed them to around 50 or so winemakers. This was around the time Semillon arrived in the region and he helped establish the Hunter Valley as a key wine region. Although back then it was known as Hunter River Riesling, Shepherd’s Riesling or White Burgundy.

In the mid 1800s, Dr Henry Lindemen moved to Australian and becomes president of the local vineyard association and helped to establish key varieties including Semillon, Verdelho and of course… Shiraz! The Hunter Valley became the birthplace of Shiraz in Australia, the styles produced here unique to our region. Hunter Shiraz is proudly medium bodied, with a distinctively savoury structure and food friendly texture. An inwardly concentrated core ensures the best examples of Hunter Shiraz have amazing long term cellaring potential.

With vineyards dating back to the 1860s, the Hunter Valley also has some of the oldest and rarest vine stock in the world. Heritage plant stocks of international value, such as Shiraz from 1867 and Semillon from 1899, are still nurtured. The Hunter Valley has the largest acreage of old vines in not just Australia but the world, mainly Shiraz, growing on its own roots. Some Shiraz vines are more than 120 years old and still produce excellent wines.

Why are old vines important? Well, they can produce wines with characteristics different from their younger counterparts. Their lower yield typically means the flavours of these grapes are full of intensity and flavour which make for a more complex, balanced wine. 

Kiss Shiraz is our best example of a wine made from established, older vines and while they don’t go back as quite as far as some of these heritage vines mentioned above, the Pokolbin Estate Vineyard planted in 1969 has naturally low-cropping vines that consistently produce fruit of exception depth and concentration. It has become the benchmark Shiraz for Thomas wines, each vintage expressing only the best qualities ever since the first vintage in 2001. Kiss Shiraz has received numerous awards, accolades and quite the fan base...we highly recomend trying it to see what all the fuss is about.

If you are interested in celebrating Shiraz Week with us, don't forget to check out our two limited-time-only promotions - the Shiraz Entertaining 12 Pack and the Shiraz Appreciation 6 Pack (includes a bottle of 2022 Kiss Shiraz). Don't forget to tag us on socials so we can raise a glass with you on 25th July to Shiraz no matter where you are!

Time Posted: 19/07/2024 at 4:23 PM Permalink to The History of Shiraz in the Hunter Valley, Australia Permalink
Leesa Mealing
2 July 2024 | Leesa Mealing

Is it a Case of Déjà Vu?

Déjà vu is the phenomenon of feeling as though one has lived through the present situation before. In the case of our 2023 Shiraz Pinot blend, this region has indeed seen it before...

Blending Hunter-grown Shiraz with Hunter-grown Pinot Noir is not a new concept and any winemaker worth their salt in this region will be able to provide you with some context that stretches back to the heydays days of Maurice O’Shea. 

The 20th century Hunter Valley winemaker, considered the Father of Australian winemaking, helped Pinot Noir to become one of, if not the, the most planted red varietals in the region during the 1960s.

The medium bodied blend of Hunter Valley Shiraz and Pinot Noir is a wine style of which O’Shea himself is most famous for - aka Hunter River Burgandy -  and some of O’Shea’s wines from the 1940s and 50s are regarded as some of the finest Australian wines ever made.

Thommo and Dan’s contribution to this category for Thomas Wines is inspired by Hunter Valley winemaking legends such as the aforementioned Maurice O’Shea and of course the late Murray Tyrrell whose 1976 Vat 6 Pinot Noir was acclaimed the best wine in the world in 1979.

This is a modern spin on the traditional Shiraz Pinot Noir blends of days gone by. The name “DJV” refers to the feeling of déja vu that you may well experience when tasting this wine, and is our tribute to the traditional “Hunter River Burgundy” style.

With only 270 dozen bottles produced, less than 2500L, you can be sure the 2023 DJV Shiraz Pinot won’t last long!


Time Posted: 02/07/2024 at 4:13 PM Permalink to Is it a Case of Déjà Vu? Permalink

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