Miamba launch adds new dimension to Burge shiraz range

The release this month of the Grant Burge 1999 Miamba Shiraz takes the company’s range of Barossa shiraz to four, ranging in price from about $14 to nearly $100 a bottle.

“I think that would put us at the very forefront in terms of offering wines made 100 per cent from Barossa shiraz, which is clearly the grape variety that the district grows best and is most widely known for,” said Grant Burge.

Grant Burge Wines’ current-release wines made from Barossa Shiraz are:
— Grant Burge 1999 Barossa Vines Shiraz ($14)
— Grant Burge 1999 Miamba Shiraz ($20)
— Grant Burge 1999 Filsell Shiraz ($28)
— Grant Burge 1996 Meshach Shiraz ($95)

“The Miamba nicely fills the price gap that existed between the Barossa Vines and the Filsell and offers lovers of our shiraz a comfortable stepping stone between the two,” said Grant.

Grant Burge Wines planted its first vines on Miamba, which links the company’s Filsell and Cameron Vale vineyards, in 1987 but the grape growing history of the property extends back to the 19th century when a vineyard was planted there by Tatachilla.

The family of pioneering South Australian viticulturist Dr A.C. Kelly purchased Miamba in the early 1900s and sold it to Orlando in 1938.

Orlando adopted the name “Miamba” for one of its most significant brands during the 50s and 60s but by the late 70s grapes were in oversupply in Australia and the company, like many others, started looking at alternate land use.

The vines were grubbed out in 1980 and the property converted to grazing land. It was pastoral potential that led Grant Burge to buy Miamba in 1983, but the discovery of bore water and increasing demand for table wines encouraged him to plant 24 acres of vines in 1987.

The planting has been expanded to some 200 acres comprising shiraz (90 acres), cabernet sauvignon (20 acres), merlot (20 acres), chardonnay (40 acres), Semillon (20 acres) and pinot noir (10 acres).

“Miamba is my biggest vineyard and also my most modern,” said Grant.
“It’s been set up totally in the modern era, with state-of-the-art irrigation and the high trellises needed for efficient mechanised harvesting.”

The release of the 1999 Miamba Shiraz represents the first addition to the Grant Burge individual-vineyard range since the company was launched in the late 1980s*.

“It shows how careful we are in developing the individual-vineyard range, which really does constitute the heart of our business,” said Grant.

“Previously we used all the Miamba fruit either for our Barossa Vines range or for wines made under contract to other wineries, but in 99 we thought it good enough to keep separate and consider for a new premium brand.

“It’s certainly turned out that way. While the 99 Miamba isn’t as rich as our Filsell Shiraz, it’s still a big, serious wine with spicy, flavoursome shiraz fruit, good tannins and some excellent American oak.

“I think it’s a very good wine and I think the brand has huge scope, both domestically and internationally.”

New fortified range from Grant Burge

Grant Burge Wines has gone against prevailing market trends to launch a new range of premium fortified wines.

The range – an Aged Tawny, a 20-Year-Old Tawny and an Age Unknown Liqueur Muscat – has been packaged in strikingly designed proprietory bottles imported from Europe.

“I know that the Australian market for tawnies and Muscats is declining, but I also know that there is loyal following for these styles and I’m confident that the quality of the wines we are offering will attract plenty of attention,” said Grant Burge.

“I’m certainly one of those fans. It’s a taste I inherited from my father, Colin, along with a magnificent stock of old fortified material he and his brother, Noel, had produced at the family’s Wilsford Winery.

“My grandfather, Percy, set up the Wilsford Winery during the Great Depression, when he couldn’t find a ready market for the grapes he was growing.

“Fortified wines were the main market then, and he quickly established a reputation for the ports, Muscats and sherries he sold directly to the public.”

Grant has since supplemented the Wilsford stock with material from Krondorf and Basedows, and recently re-blended his tawnies into soleras based on internationally recognised criteria – Aged Tawny (average age of six years), 10-Year-Old Tawny, 20-Year-Old Tawny and 30-Year-Old Tawny.

The 10-Year-Old Tawny will initially be an export-only line, while the 30-Year-Old is destined for very limited special release at a later date.

Grant has established several sherry soleras as well and is also planning to release an aged fortified based on sauvignon Blanc.

Part of the reason for Grant’s increased concentration on fortified wines is to ensure the maintenance of the special winemaking skills required.

“I realised how much these skills had slipped into the background when one of my young winemakers told me how little he’d learnt about fortified-wine production at college,” said Grant.
“I hope that I can play some part in continuing what really is a great Australian winemaking tradition.”

The Age-Unknown Liqueur Muscat is Grant’s personal favourite in the new range.

“Quite simply, it’s a superb wine which has everything I’d look for in an old liqueur Muscat – plenty of fresh Muscat fruit, a touch of rancio character gained from aging and a sweet luscious middle palate which gives way to a smooth, clean finish,” he said.

“We don’t have adequate records to calculate the precise age of this wine, but we do know that the oldest material in the blend dates from 1956 and that its average age is more than 20 years.

“There’s much more to making premium Muscat than just putting wine into barrels and letting it mature. It’s a real art to keep the blend fresh by adding judicious amounts of young material and prevent the rancio characters from becoming dominant.”

Grant’s tawnies are based on the traditional Barossa grape varieties for this style – Grenache, shiraz and Mataro.

“These are all varieties that ripen superbly in the Barossa and produce fruit with great richness of flavour,” said Grant.

“The 20-Year-Old Tawny is an outstanding example of the style, and shows plenty of the lovely nutty rancio character typical of a fully mature, complex tawny. The palate is sweet to start with, then dries off beautifully to a clean finish.”

The Aged Tawny has a high proportion of Grenache which gives it a pronounced fruit lift that is supported by some rancio development and well integrated spirit.

“It’s a terrific wine that successfully combines mature characters with youthful freshness, and I believe it offers exceptional value for money,” said Grant.