An absolute honour to hang out all day with Brad Rowe from Boireann Winery. You see, Brad’s got some pretty big shoes to fill, as he’s taken over as winemaker from the original owner, Peter Stark since his retirement in 2017.
Peter’s wines have been winning Gold at countless shows, and consistently scoring 95+ points by James Halliday year-on-year. This and their tiny yields on their 1.6ha vineyard, meant that Boireann Wines are a highly sought rarity, almost never found in the wild unless you’re a lucky wine club member.
Peter Stark is still casting his watchful eye as a consultant, but as we walked through the vineyard, nerding out over canopy and crop management, nutrition and disease, it filled me with confidence that Brad has got this one covered. It was such a contrast from English vineyards on the other side of the world, with so much healthy vigour and even a summer flowering happening as I visited.
After a tour of the vineyard, it was on to tasting all the latest vintage reds, straight from the barrel in the winery. This included lovely Granite Belt Italian classics, Bordeaux blend and of course their Shiraz and Shiraz Viognier. These were absolutely gorgeous, and tasting notes will come out as they are bottled and released.
But the highlight was none other than the appearance of the legendary, almost mythical 2016 Shiraz Viognier. But let me set the scene first before we dive in to tasting notes.
Shiraz-Viognier is an unlikely partnership of a red and a white wine grape. Historically from the Rhone Valley in France, the Shiraz is fermented along with a small amount of Viognier, this blend adds a complexity which is more than the sum of the two parts, resulting in more complex wines with a delicate floral and herbal uplift when done well.
Shiraz-Viognier blends have seen a rise in popularity in Australia in recent years, and in 2019, Australia’s premier wine critic James Halliday chose three as the best. Two from famous cool-climate wineries from the south (including the iconic Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier), and the 2016 Boireann Shiraz Viognier from the tiny Granite Belt region.
Needless to say, this already rare wine almost instantly became an urban legend, and to witness, yet alone taste it was a truly humbling experience.
Boireann’s 2016 Shiraz Viognier with 8% co-fermented Viognier presented a sublime balance and integration of primary fruits and floral, acidity and tannins. Juicy yet delicately bodied, a choral harmony of red and black fruits, overtones of violets, apricots, white pepper and that trademark Granite Belt earthiness. And a finish so long and fine it reminds you that it’s truly something special.
Sadly no longer sold, but it definitely shows why it’s made James Halliday’s list. That said, the (ever slightly more available) 2017 Boireann Shiraz Viognier is very much a tour-de-force and winning accolades on its own.
PS: If you’re planning to visit, make sure to call well ahead.
Check it out:
Boireann Winery: http://www.boireannwinery.com.au
Phone: (07) 4683 2194
26 Donnellys Castle Road, The Summit, QLD, 4377, Australia [Google Maps]
Open: Fri-Mon 10am-4pm, Please call well ahead