Ever found yourself in the ‘red blends’ section of your favourite bottleshop and looking at labels with GSM jumping at you? Did you know what these letters meant? Did you know it was an acronym for Grenache/Shiraz/Mataro? Maybe. Maybe not.
Sometimes the wine industry uses terms that it expects consumers to understand. We’ve had a bet each way with our Dust Kicker red blend; we’ve put the GSM acronym on the front label and the full variety names (Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro) on the back. We hope this hasn’t confused people too much.
The ‘GSM blend’ has become an important style in the Barossa. Max Allen explains this Barossa style as… “gutsy, spicy, leathery, complex and rustic barbecue red wines often made from very old vines”. The Grenache provides lighter, red fruit flavours as well as perfume and spice; Shiraz contributes richer fruit flavours and structure; while Mataro brings earthy and spicy elements and texture to the mix. The three varieties often seamlessly mesh together as a complete blend.
But this popular Barossa blend didn’t just appear thanks to some happy accident in a shed among the vines, the wine style has been inspired by the wines of the Southern Rhone region of France (and if you know a little bit about the wines from this part of the word you might have heard of the sub-regions of Chateauneuf Du Pape, Gigondas and Tavel).
Grenache is the most widely planted variety in Chateauneuf Du Pape and the reds from this region are often blended mainly from Grenache, Shiraz (Syrah) and Mataro (Mourvedre). The wine style is generally full-bodied, rich, raisiny, spicy and powerful… there’s a few common themes from Max’s earlier description of the Barossa blends. And for this reason you occasionally find a restaurant wine list that promotes Australian GSM as ‘Rhone-style blends’.
Our 2012 Dust Kicker GSM contains roughly 50% Grenache, 25% Shiraz and 25% Mataro. But we don’t work to a recipe, the percentages change each year as Jason aims to make a smooth wine that goes down well while watching the footy with your mates, but is also a great food-matching wine.
There are Barossa winemakers working with all sorts of combinations of these three varieties and some who have included some lesser-known Southern Rhone varieties (ever heard of Cinsault?) in their mix. The interesting part of the winemaking process is working with varieties that ripen at different stages here in the Barossa… Shiraz first, then Grenache, followed by Mataro… which usually means individual parcels of fruit are fermented separately and tucked away in barrels as single varietals, and the blend only comes together well after vintage.
So, that’s a little bit of extra information for you, but all you really need to know is if you’re partial to a GSM, there are plenty of tasty Barossa options available.