The much over-used (or should I say abused) word iconic doesn’t get much of a look-in here at TML. But, when it comes to Aussie shiraz no other adjective quite fits the bill. It’s especially true of Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz.
Australia is home to the world’s oldest continuously productive Shiraz vines with the oldest probably at Langmeil dating back to 1843. Turkey Flat followed (1847) with Tahbilk coming in third in 1860. These pre-phylloxera* vines produce small crops of concentrated grapes. Along with a lot of love that make shiraz (aka Syrah) in the all-Australian style.
In warm to hot regions, shiraz lives up to its legendary status – with distinctive jammy blackberry and plum fruit. Planted just about everywhere grapes grow in Australia, it is sometimes inexpensive and quaffable and sometimes it’s a world-class classic.
Most consider the Barossa as the spiritual home of quality Australian shiraz.
The old-school, ‘big’, high alcohol Barossa shiraz was like a body slam by The Rock in his WWF heyday.
Today’s wines are now more considered. Terroir and unique climate combine to create exceptional fruit.
Keeping it in the family
John Burge arrived in the Barossa in 1855 with wife Eliza and sons Meshach and John. A tailor by trade, John worked as a winemaker at Hillside Vineyards. Meshach shared his father’s passion for winemaking and made his first wine in 1865 and his son Percival carried on the family business when he established the Wilsford Winery near Lyndoch in 1928. Perceval’s son Colin continued and then his son Grant took over the reins.
The Grant Burge label’s flagship wine Meshach Shiraz is named for his great grandfather. According to the Book of Daniel, three Hebrew men, Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego refused to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s image. He threw them into a fiery furnace. Miraculously unharmed, the king then saw four men walk through the roaring flames – the fourth resembling the son of God. Grant Burge Wines also make Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon and Abednego Grenache Shiraz Mouverdre.
The Grant Burge shiraz vines have consistently produced intensely flavoured fruit that makes both powerful yet beautifully balanced wines. First released in 1988, this flagship wine is a deep purple-red with aromas of cherry and chocolate – Black Forest Cake? It is indeed full-bodied but nuanced. James Halliday listed the 2012 in his top 20 wines for 2019.
Meanwhile, for the Cab Sav fans, the Grant Burge Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon has a bouquet of black currant and blackberry, mint and vanilla. Ripe but fresh, it’s all about the fruit. 97 points from Mr Halliday in his Halliday Wine Companion 2020.
From the winemaker …
We get to know more about these beautifully crafted wines from Chief Winemaker Craig Stansborough, who has been with Grant Burge wines for over 25 years. He is a no-nonsense winemaker who believes wine shouldn’t be overcomplicated.
Grange and Hill of Grace are the best-known examples of Australian Shiraz, how is the Meshach different?
Grange is not Barossa – it’s grown over a wide range of plots. Hill of Grace comes from Eden Valley. Meshach is a blend of three to four vineyards from very old vines, for example, the average age of the 13 Meshach was 108 years old so it’s pretty special.
The Meshach is also from the Southern Barossa, with its higher rainfall and cooler temperatures it is quite unique, I don’t believe there are many other examples of this premium wine from this part of the Barossa.
How much did the weather influence both of these wines?
Weather always has a significant influence, you just have to deal with what mother nature deals you.
The Shiraz vines are over 90 years old – what does this mean to the process of making great wine?
It’s a great resource, these old vines tend to cope with weather extremes quite well due to their deep root systems, this does allow good phenolic ripeness at lower sugar levels giving great density and elegance with high alcohol.
Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon
The Shadrach Cabernet Sauvignon fruit is grown in the Eden Valley. What special characteristics does the terroir give this wine?
Due to the higher altitude and cooler climate, we get great varietal definition and natural acidity, both these elements blended with the generosity of the Barossa Valley and give us great blending opportunities.
As a keeper when do you think the Meshach will be at its best?
This is always an interesting question as it really does depend on how you like to drink your wine. We always make these wines so that you can enjoy them now (given the wine is released as a 4-5-year-old wine) or will have the ability to age gracefully. All I can say is if you like primary fruit, drink with the next 8 years and if you like bottle age and complexity, you can sit on this for the next 10-20 years.
These 2013 Grant Burge Icon wines are available now nationally through BWS and Dan Murphys.
* A late 19th-century phylloxera epidemic destroyed most of the wine grape vineyards in Europe, most notably in France.
Disclaimer: To taste these wines for review these wines were gifted.