Fortified Cowboys and Ships
October 7, 2013
One of the oldest styles of wine produced in Australia is fortified wine, and in our opinion it is the most overlooked of Australian wine styles. Many people don’t realise that Australian fortifieds stretch way in the mist of time, before they started producing great reds and whites the appetite of the day called for Aussie “Port & Sherry”.
Australia’s most expensive wine is a fortified, the Seppelt 100 Year Old Para Liqueur, which doesn’t get released until it’s 100 years old and retails for around $1000, produced in the Barossa Valley. But the one I’d like to draw special attention to here is O’Leary Walkers ‘Wyatt Earp’ Shiraz. Back in his early winemaking days David O’Leary was responsible for the production of a fortified wine under the Wyatt Earp Label. So when he and Nick Walker set up their own winery, he began thinking about resurrecting the label and giving wine enthusiasts a delightful Clare Valley Fortified.
Before i describe the lovely wine we sampled in Nick’s company a quick note on the name, it is not named as one would think for the famous Tombstone sheriff and O.K. Corral combatant but rather for an Antarctic icebreaker called ‘Wyatt Earp’ to honour the fact that the crew would stock up on fortified reds to warm themselves while down in the snow south.
The grapes for this wine come from the Watervale sub region and are 100% Shiraz. After pressing and fermentation the wine is fortified with brandy spirit. This is typical for many fortified wines as the alcohol stalls the fermentation process leaving a sweetness in the wine along with a warming kick of alcohol. The wine pour intense red with purple hues along the edge of the glass. The nose has intense and fragrant fortified Shiraz with clean lifted spirits. Perfumed with blackberry, liquorice and spice. Blackberry fruits, clean lifted and balanced with long tannin. The palate is rich and concentrated with great power and length of flavour. It worked great with the Cashel blue we served on the evening.