Producer Article


Last edited on 6/28/2020 by srh
There are 4 versions of this article / View version history

Producer website

U.S. Importer (Addt'l Info){ts%20%272010-06-01%2000:00:00%27} <br>
Regarding Australian wine, there are indications of a bright future in the wake of the current downturn. Consider the Shirvingtons, a wine family with vineyards in the McLaren Vale region of South Australia. Shirvington specializes in Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon at a level that puts a different spin on the “cheap and cheerful” Australian wine claim. But Shirvington is not unique among McLaren Vale wineries. Clarendon Hills, d’Arenberg and Hardy’s Tintara--to name just three--all produce distinctive red wines, while the Shirvington approach adds weight to the suggestion that the Aussies have not stepped away from producing premium, terroir-inspired red wines.

Paul and Lynne Shirvington, with sons Mark and Tony, are the owners of their eponymous wine brand and vineyards in Willunga, south of McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula and smaller vineyards in McLaren Vale and McLaren Flat. Viticulturist Peter Bolte, who has been with the Shirvingtons since 1997, tends the vineyards, while Kim Jackson has been responsible for the winemaking since the 2004 vintage. Shirvington was formerly leasing space in a large contract winery, but all of the wines are now made in the Yangarra Winery, owned by Kendall-Jackson.

McLaren Vale has always had on-going water shortages, but Paul Shirvington says that in recent years, though the problem has gotten worse, there is new hope. “The protracted drought in South Australia has had a big effect over the past five years, but it looks like we are starting to pull out this year.” The constant attention to water management has helped the wines, although Shirvington says that 2008 was not a good year in terms of fruit quality.

A recent tasting of a range of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings from Shirvington left me very favorably impressed. Shirvington Shiraz is rich but not over the top, accented with mint and dark chocolate. Of particular note is the Shirvington 2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz, showing fresh floral notes with berry and dark chocolate. The 2007 Shiraz, finished with 15.5% alcohol, was a little hot, but juicy and richly textured, with a hint of mint and mocha. I was also impressed with the density and clarity of the 2005 Shiraz, especially since the vines were only 14 years old.

Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignons have bright, lifted blackberry flavors, good oak integration and often pleasant traces of tobacco leaf and mint. The 2008 Shirvington McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon is richly textured, with smooth tannins and bright berry flavors, while the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon showed dense berry-rich flavors. Also tasted were the 2002 Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Paul Shirvington says that 2002 was the best year since they started producing, a stroke of luck I’d say since their first vintage was 2001. The Shiraz is rich and firm with great fruit and structure. To my taste, it is holding better than the Cabernet Sauvignon.

If you haven’t yet heard of Shirvington, it’s because only 4,500 cases of Shiraz and Cabernet are made, with approximately one-third of that imported into the United States by Quintessential Wines. Shirvington sells its wines in six-bottle packs, and as of the 2008 vintage, they bottled 6,000 six-packs of Shiraz and 3,000 of Cabernet Sauvignon. Shirvington Shiraz sells for $70 and the Cabernet Sauvignon is priced at $60. Currently available vintages for both wines are 2008 and 2007. Tasting them will restore one’s faith in Australia’s future.