Chris Ringland – Australian Wine Legend

CR ShirazBarossa’s Chris Ringland has a history of producing amazing Shiraz. Some call him a maverick, though that is perhaps an overused and sometimes undeserved title these days. Suffice it to say that he has his own way of creating great wines. His top-of-the-line Shiraz is certainly legendary, running about $350 a bottle when you can find it – only around 80 cases a year are produced.

Now he has a new venture, in partnership with the French cooperative exporter-importer Diva, which aims to bring great Barossa wines to the US at affordable prices. Like many of Australia’s winemakers he has experienced something of a change in philosophy – a “recalibration” he calls it – about making wine. “Up until 2008, we had gotten into a sort of pissing contest to see who could make the gooiest, thickest wine,” he says. These new CR wines use less new oak – about 20% as opposed to the 50% he once used. Alcohol levels, however, are still high at above 14%. “It’s my theory that the resistance to the big Aussie style was not to alcohol, but to oak,” Ringland adds. Hence the wines are much more vineyard-driven now.

The fruit comes from his own Stone Creek Chimney Vineyard in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia. Ringland has lived in Barossa since the early 1980s and bought his property of a little over seven acres at 1800 feet above sea level in 1994. The vines were planted in 1910 and as Australia has had no phylloxera, they are on their original rootstock. After purchasing the vineyard it took 10 years of pruning and retrellising to get the vines back into sustainable shape.

Why are old vines better? Ringland says, “It is simply because they have survived in the same environment for so many seasons. They have become harmonious with their surrounding and strongly resilient to the swings of seasonal change.” He also adds, “You never really own an ancient Shiraz vineyard, you are merely its custodian for the next generation.”

ABC Fine Wine & Spirits is very pleased to offer Chris Ringland’s CR Shiraz 2012. If you love good Shiraz this is a benchmark. And at $29.99 it’s a real bargain too!

Bill Stobbs, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor

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