Known as “Syrah” in the Rhone Valley of France, Shiraz is one of the world’s most popular wine varieties, and it is particularly well suited to organic and biodynamic farming methods. Some of the greatest examples from a range of wine regions (such as Heathcote and Beechworth) are grown biodynamically. This pattern is reflected at Cowra, where the Rosnay Shiraz was judged as the best in the region in 2002 and 2004.
The grape was allegedly brought back from Shiraz in Iran (hence the name) by the 14th-Century crusader Gaspard de Sterimberg, though recent research suggests the grape could also be native to the Rhone. Blended in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and standing alone in Hermitage, Cote-Rotie and other Rhone reds, it makes tannic, age worthy wines easily identified by a very characteristic floral black-pepper fragrance. The Shiraz of Australia is an older clone than in the Rhone today, as the clone was brought to Australia by John Busby before phylloxera wiped out the French vineyards in the 18th Century.
At Rosnay, three Shiraz clones were planted, being BVRC 12, BVRC 32 and 1654, in order to give some winemaking flexibility and complexity as our knowledge of their characteristics grows. Clone 1654, for example, gives larger berries than the BVRC clones, whose small berries give more colour intensity. Eventually, however, the different parcels are blended to make the Shiraz and Triple Blend (see notes).