MOVIES & BOOZE: Wines for the Christmas

Jean Smullen reviews 2017 Lidl Wine Makers Selection Barossa Shiraz and Tomas Clancy reviews Piccio, Syrah, IGT Siciliane 2015

2017 Lidl Wine Makers Selection Barossa Shiraz €8.99

Stockists: Lidl, Nationwide

This is one of the new additions to the Lidl range and is a fine example of Barossa Shiraz, particularly at this price. Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s best know red wine regions. A small region north of Adelaide has become one of the world’s best known red wine regions of the modern era.

Barossa is not your average Australian region, it has a range of microclimates and this includes a good amount of seasonal rainfall. It has mild daytime temperatures and is cool at night. Some of Australia’s greatest wines made from the Shiraz grape are produced here. Shiraz has been grown in Barossa since the mid 19th century

The Syrah grape is very distinctive, a native of the Northern Rhone, it is dry, dark and dense and gives lots of blackcurrant fruit, firm tannin and a hint of pepperiness. In Australia the grape is known as Shiraz and has become the red grape variety most associated with Australian wine.

The 2017 Lidl Wine Makers Barossa Shiraz has tons of blackcurrant fruit backed by a touch of vanilla with a little chocolate twist. It is full bodied and the earthy hint of bell pepper also shows through. I love the slightly spicy finish. This is a very drinkable, at this time of year serve a slow cooked meat stew, or even better try it with venison. For your Christmas party, why not serve it with a selection of aged cheese or some spicy meatballs.


Piccio, Syrah, IGT Siciliane, Italy 2015

Pricing : €9.99

Available : Lidl Supermarkets nationwide

Sicily, is of course the football at the foot of Italy’s boot toe, as synonymous with dark Mafia goings on as it is with the brooding, ever smoking presence of Europe’s most active volcano, Mount Etna. Sicily has however for wine lovers also become tightly associated for the last decade with one very robust red wine, the endless iterations of Nero D’Avola. For many years it was hoped that Nero D’Avola could take on Australia and its world beating spicy Shiraz. Needless to say that overblown idea did not come to pass, high alcohol and a robust rustic edge do not equate with the emerging complexity and diversity of Australian Shiraz.

The new hope is Sicilian Syrah, such as this fascinating wine from Formula One driver Jarno Truli’s expanding Castorani wine group. Jarno Truli drove in F1 for Toyota, Lotus and most importantly for Renault with whom he won the Monaco Grand Prix in 2004, today he divides his time between his own electric Formula E Team Truli and his very beautiful winery and estate in Abruzzo, his native region. The Castorani Estate makes superb Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and that is where he and a small group of his Formula 1 teammates and co-investors began. A decade after starting this wine venture Tuli has wine interest all over Italy and now in fashionable Sicily.

This Sicilian Syrah is a balanced and restrained example in the style of a fruitier, fresher and lighter French Syrah, than a blockbuster cracked black pepper Australian Shiraz.
The Sicilian Syrah is a category that will surely grow and expand into wines of every heft, but opting for a cleaner, medium bodied European style wine is a deft move with which to engage with wine lovers who are drifting away from high alcohol fruit bombs.