St. Andrews Shiraz and barrel fermentation
Thu, 23 August 2012
Our Chief Winemaker, Adam Eggins started experimenting with open barrel fermentation technique for the St. Andrews Shiraz from the 2006 vintage. In his opinion, the earlier in a wine’s life you introduce high quality wood, the better. The natural tannins in the wood of the oak barrels do a number of amazing things for the wine; it helps stabilise the vibrant red/purple colours, it provides layers of textural complexity and of course it adds to the aroma and the flavour of the wine. Another added bonus to fermenting in barrels is that you can afford to pick the fruit when it is really ripe with rich flavours. Now this also means that the fruit sugar levels are just that bit higher too and under normal fermentation methods, this would make for an alcoholic wine; which frankly don’t age all that gracefully. If, however, you ferment in open barrels, a lot of the alcohol is vented off into open air and you end up with all the flavour at lower alcohol levels!
It seems the judges at the Ultimate Wine Challenge in New York give this approach the thumbs up as they awarded the wine the Chairman’s trophy for “Best Syrah/Shiraz – World”. It also collected gold medals at the Sydney International Wine Competition, the Los Angeles International Wine Competition and the prestigious Concours Mondial in Brussels. Click here to read the St. Andrews Shiraz 2006 tasting notes
Adam has continued to refine his approach to crafting the St. Andrews Shiraz with subsequent vintages being fermented in a combination of open barrel and vat fermentation along with some further experimentation using small percentages of French oak in place of American. The next vintage release for the St. Andrews Shiraz will be the 2009 and if early sampling indications are anything to go by, his innovative approach is paying off in spades!