Posted 27/04/2017 by SALife Magazine
Global respect for Australian wine is rising as more nuanced, carefully structured wines enter the market, and Michael Hall is at the vanguard of terroir-driven shiraz expression.
Michael Hall’s worldly view of wine led him to assess shiraz in his adopted Barossa home through a different prism. The UK-born winemaker came to the Barossa by an unusual route – after two decades as a jewellery valuer in Switzerland, he embarked on winemaking studies before working vintages in France and across Australia. This has given him a broad perspective of wine styles and possibilities.
“Shiraz is Australia’s biggest grape variety, so there’s room for many different expressions,” Michael says. “I’ve tried to find vineyards that exhibit their own distinctive personalities.”
It started when Michael sourced a parcel of shiraz from Leon and Christa Deans’ Eden Valley vineyard that he decided to call syrah. “It instantly reminded me of the cool, peppery shiraz of Hermitage in the Rhone Valley, and I felt it deserved a separate identity,” says Michael. “The site was speaking, and that needed to be recognised; giving it a different name underlined the fact.”
To emphasise this further, Michael also sourced shiraz from John Shobbrook’s biodynamic vineyard at Stonewell on the Barossa floor – significantly richer and bolder in flavour and character. “I called this shiraz, to show stark differences between the two wines. Only 15 kilometres separate the vineyards, yet the grapes are picked three weeks apart, and their soil profiles are significantly different.”
This year has seen Michael release another new shiraz, sourced from a vineyard at Mount Torrens in the Adelaide Hills. He has also called this elegant cool-climate wine syrah, and its appeal has been immediate, winning best wine at the 2016 Adelaide Hills Wine Show. “I fell in love with the vineyard,” says Michael. “I firmly believe there’s commercial space for all three of these wines, because they each speak so differently. I get a lot of pleasure from people’s reaction when they taste them all, side by side. Then they see that all three have merit in their own right.”