Wirra Wirra Vineyards
2006 Woodhedge Shiraz
Australia: McLaren Vale
What We Say
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Mission Codename: Amongst The Gum Trees
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Acquire a highly accoladed Aussie Shiraz for our thirsty operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Wirra Wirra Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Woodhedge Shiraz
Winemaker: Samantha Connew, James Rouse & Paul Smith
The McLaren Vale regional zone in South Australia is located just south of Adelaide is known for big reds. Its climate and complex soils suits a wide range of grapes but the region is best known for Shiraz (Syrah) and Cabernet Sauvignon. While genetically the same as Syrah, this grape adopts its local character and Terroir to become distinctly Aussie in style. Incidentally, the name Shiraz comes from the capital of Fars (Persia) even though this grape traces its roots back to French breeding.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dense and dark garnet with an almost inky dark core. When held to the light ruby reflections shine through. Along the edges, the color remains dense and when swirled, widely spaced thin legs also show hints of color as the ring the glass.
Smell – Rich and bold aromas of dark berries and ripe plum, wild anise and herbal notes. As this wine opens, hints of vanilla and caramel interlace with toasted and smokey oak and a touch of black pepper, mocha and floral violets.
Feel – This dense and full-bodied wine is smooth and dry with firm, full but smooth textured tannins and medium acidity provides a chewy feel that spreads over the palate and holds the flavors long into the finish.
Taste – Expansive layers of dark fruit and plum, wild anise, oak and black pepper are richly integrated with mild spice, herbal notes and tobacco. Big and bold, with classic ripe Shiraz flavors.
Finish – Extremely long with this wine’s persistent textured tannins leading the way and supporting the rich and dense fruit, spice and other complex flavors.
Conclusion – The 2006 Wirra Wirra Vineyards Woodhedge Shiraz is a lovely and purely Aussie styled Shiraz with great bold fruit flavors and a structure that doesn’t hold anything back. Dense and complex. Give this wine some time to open up so all its deeply layered flavors emerge and let it take you on a journey ‘down under’.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Samantha ‘Sam’ Connew
DATE OF BIRTH: 09/1971
PLACE OF BIRTH: Christchurch, Noo Zealand
WINE EDUCATION: LLB/BA; PG Dip Vit and Oen.; currently studying Masters in Wine Science and Viticulture
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: “Fail again, but fail better”; actually I think that was Samuel Beckett’s philosophy as well!
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Sauvignon Blanc
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: My blonde highlights are pretty good at the moment, I must say!
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Errr, isn’t this the same as above? How many highlights can a person have? But seriously, it was a wonderful experience to be awarded the 2007 Red Wine Maker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge in London, never before have I had such a worthwhile opportunity to consume fine champagne, and lots of it….
WINEMAKER QUOTE: Yabba Dabba Do!"
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Sam. We are thrilled to be showing your 2006 Woodhedge Shiraz today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
SAM: ….and thank you to you guys for picking up on Woodhenge Shiraz, I hope that your customers enjoy the wine, we sure do!
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
SAM: After taking the road most travelled by studying hard to become a lawyer, I fell into the perennial students trap of accepting meagre wages for major work in hospitality. It was here at the famous Annie’s Wine Bar in Christchurch that I was exposed to the great wines of the world, and the serious fun that they guarantee in those that consume them.
WHITE: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
SAM: It is very difficult to pinpoint the one single place where I learnt about wine, in many ways I believe that to make good wine consistently I need to continue to have a curious mind. The range of experiences that I have gained over many years, with producers as diverse as Beaux Freres in Oregeon, Cape Mentelle in Margaret River, and Brokenwood in the Hunter Valley have all contributed greatly to the wines that I make and love today.
WHITE: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
SAM: Myself and the winemaking team at Wirra Wirra aim to make wines that are representative of the two main regions from which we source grapes, the cool climate Adelaide Hills for our premium whites, and McLaren Vale which forms the historical home of both Wirra Wirra and our red wines. We look to communicate the integral varietal characteristics and distinguished vineyard sites from which we draw our fruit. A case in point, the Woodhenge Shiraz named for the massive Post and Rail fence which borders one of our best shiraz vineyards situated directly out the front of the winery, shows the plums and rich dark berry fruits of the variety, coupled with the round silky texture, and intense mid palate power for which McLaren Vale is so well known.
WHITE: How long have you been making wine?
SAM: far longer than I ever would have survived as a lawyer.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
SAM: I make wine for the faithful supporters of Wirra Wirra who have stuck by us through fad, famine, and in some cases fame. It is both a humbling (and nerve racking) experience to make wine for people who have deliberately purchased and cellared many vintages of either Woodhenge, Church Block, or RSW with the expectation of enjoying these wines with friends and family on a future occasion.
WHITE: Tell me, what makes the McLaren Vale so special?
SAM: McLaren Vale is a vibrant community with a strong artisanal food and wine culture, with some of the oldest olive groves in Australia, the very best local cheese producers, and some of the best beach fishing in Australia. From a wine perspective McLaren Vale is lucky to be home to some of the oldest pre-phylloxera vineyards in Australia (and therefore the world), which are a treasured resource for the local custodians of these invaluable vines. Coupled with a Mediterranean climate of warm, dry days in summer and cool wet winters all mediated by our proximity to the Gulf St Vincent assists in development of wonderfully intense flavour and colours, whilst retaining acidity.
WHITE: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
SAM: Get a real job! This wine making caper is only for masochists.
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
SAM: trying to locate my unruly chocolate Labrador, who sometimes responds to the name Murphy (Brown) and seems to have developed a habit of removing the bungs from our oak barrels and burying them in the Woodhenge vineyard…..
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
SAM: see winemaking style and philosophy.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
SAM: Rare Lamb with cinnamon, cardamom and quince.
WHITE: Please share one thing about yourself that few people know
SAM: that I am training for the New York marathon, for which I have yet to find a way to explain to Wirra Wirra that they will be providing the flights….
WHITE:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
SAM: a refreshing ice cold Adelaide Hills or Eden Valley Riesling as they bone dry with fantastic pure citrus and lime flavours and amazing acid line. They are the last bastion of great value whites in the Australia. Failing that I have soft spot for Chablis.
WHITE: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
SAM: with a glass in hand, an open mind, and hopefully to be enjoyed with family and friends. I enjoy the company of those people that think deeply about what they consume, and those that are fun to be around while I think about what we are drinking.
WHITE: If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
SAM: a fresh manzanilla sherry with just shucked oysters, or any good red burgundy from 1999 with hand-made pasta and fresh truffles.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Wirra Wirra Vineyards in the McLaren Vale can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Awards & Accolades:
DOUBLE GOLD MEDAL – San Francisco International Wine Comp
93 POINTS – WINORAMA.com.au Gary Walsh, JAN 08 – “Rich and full with dark plums and berries, aniseed, chocolate and toasty vanilla coffee oak. Slightly floral and extremely attractive. On the palate full bodied and voluptuous with plum cake, red berries, chocolate, spice and toasty coffee oak. It has smooth grainy ‘Greek Coffee’ tannins and excellent mouthfeel – deep and satisfying. Finishes long and spicy with a puff of powdery tannin to close. Highly seductive and tasty. Love it.”
92 POINTS – ADELAIDE ADVERTISER – “Fleshy plums and chocolatey elements give this very smart, medium-weighted shiraz a sense of sweet fruitiness with a serious, upright backbone, a fresh fruit pucker in the middle of the mouth, a light coast of tannins and a decent length of flavour all built in. Strongly Vales in character and perhaps better in a year or so.”
“The latest vintage from the RGT collection honours the late Greg Trott, who has just been recognised in a new book about his life and vision for Wirra Wirra. A cracking good red with loads of upfront grunt, intense black berry and plum fruit on the nose and palate, a core of spice, integrated chocolate characters and silky smooth tannins. Drink it with rare sirloin steak.” – ILLAWARRA MERCURY Grape Expectations, Kerry Skinner, FEB 08
“Ripe nose with white pepper overtones, soft on entry then starts to build, flavours unfolding on one level, well supported underneath with acid/tannin. Good depth and length with a great aftertaste and a long, long finish.” – THE KEY REVIEW OF WINES Issue 11, Tony Keys, APRIL 08
About This Wine:
A legacy worth drinking… As a tribute to Greg Trott’s unique vision of that which has always made Wirra Wirra special, we have named our McLaren Vale Shiraz after the massive post-and-rail fence only Trott could have dreamed of and that now greets visitors to the winery.
Woodhenge is essentially in the mould of the fences early settlers would erect, but on a cyclopean scale, with posts more than two metres in diameter, some weighing over three tonnes. Less fence, more elemental sculpture, Woodhenge is a monument to “big” ideas.
Grape Varieties: 100% Shiraz
Region: All fruit was sourced from various sub-regions
throughout McLaren Vale
Oak Maturation: Each vineyard batch was matured in oak for 16months prior to blending. Of the final blend, 65% of wine was matured in French oak and 35% in American oak, of
which 40% was new