Could Barossa Shiraz be the product of the oldest Shiraz/Syrah vines in the world?
Australia is home to the oldest Shiraz (and Syrah), Grenache and Cabernet vines in the world. Luckily, for the Aussies, phylloxera never made its way to their wine regions. Because of that, Australia now has some of the longest surviving vines in the world. Other countries like France and Argentina have long histories with wine, but the annoying pest known as Phylloxera decimated vineyards in the 1800′s.
Australia possesses a ‘Jurassic Park’ of old Shiraz clones which can be found nowhere else in the world – why is that, you ask given that Australia is a relative newcomer to the world of grape growing. European traditions are older, with grapes being grown in Egypt and Europe several hundred years BC. France one would think would have the oldest vines in the world, but alas no – that accolade definitely belongs to Australia.
As we all know, Phylloxera wiped out most of the old vines of the world in the 1870s, and many people (including the author of the book of that name) believe that the oldest surviving shiraz vines in the world are Chauteau Tahbilk’s 1860 vines in central Victoria.
This is actually not the case.
At Langmeil in the Barossa valley, there is the Langmeil Vineyard and Winery, where many of the vines date to between 1843 and 1847.
These vines were out of production for many years, but were restored to wine production with the 1997 vintage of the Langmeil ‘The Freedom’ Shiraz, truly one of the finest wines of the world, and a wine which, in blind tastings, is often preferred by wine experts over Penfolds Grange.