Great Blends of Australia

7 Amazing Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro blends


Down under, the traditional Southern Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre is commonly known by the name GSM (or SGM)—based on the Australian no-nonsense attitude and strong belief in “calling a spade a spade,” or calling these Rhône blends after the varietals they’re made of. In further Australian style, abbreviations GSM and SGM were adopted based on the order of the letters (stipulating which varieties are most dominant in the blend). The only difference in naming: in Australia, Syrah is commonly known as Shiraz, and Mourvedre goes by the name of Mataro.
Guts of the Blend

Even if there is no exact blending recipe, Grenache and Shiraz generally make up the bulk of the blend. Grenache is a vigorous and generous vine, producing a light colored juice with flavors of red berries and a hint of sweet spice (clove, cardamom, allspice). It brings warmth and fruitiness to the blend as well as alcohol. Shiraz is more full-bodied and fleshy, and generally contributes more black fruit flavors as well as leather, bitter chocolate and peppery notes. It also adds color, structure, tannins and balance to the blend. Mataro is responsible for flavors of ripe red fruit (plums, cherry), cigar smoke and dried meat, but also adds elegance, freshness and structure.
Australian GSMs often have minty or eucalyptus notes in the nose, and a hint of dark chocolate in the finish. Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro have a long history in Australia–they were among the first vitis vinifera James Busby brought back from his trip to France and Spain in 1831. In 1839, the three varieties were brought to Southern Australia, where they flourished. They were originally used for the production of fortified wine (the backbone of the Australian wine industry till the 1960s). Some of the oldest vines of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro can still be found in South Australia, where some vines are more than 150 years old.

However, as a direct result of the decline of the fortified wine industry, a lot of old Grenache and Mataro vines were ripped up and replaced with Cabernet Sauvignon in the vine-pull schemes of the  80s. In recent years, planting have increased slightly, but both grape varieties are but a shadow of their former self and are today almost exclusively found in South Australia.  Heathcote (Victoria) and Margaret River are the two main exceptions to this rule.

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  • It is not James Melton, it is Charles Melton from Charles Melton Wines, who made the first GSM blend in the Barossa Valley. And it is delicious :) Thanks

    Feb 12, 2013 at 6:18 PM

  • Snooth User: Matt Walker
    Hand of Snooth
    842795 61,472

    The Colonial Estate makes a wonderful GSM called Emigre that is top quality and very affordable, nice article!

    Feb 12, 2013 at 6:29 PM

  • Snooth User: pacman41
    531332 14

    The description "Mataro" is rarely used these days, with makers preferring "Mourvedre".

    Feb 12, 2013 at 10:54 PM

  • Snooth User: Caroline Henry
    Hand of Snooth
    332026 8,270

    Hi Michelle, it is indeed Charles Melton - thanks for pointing this out! Will look out for Emigre - thanks for the tip Matt!

    Feb 16, 2013 at 5:38 AM

  • Snooth User: Terence Pang
    Hand of Snooth
    1067620 48,664

    Caroline, there are 2 other GSM blends by Colonial Estate. John Speke (AUD$80) and Envoy (AUD$35). The listed price for Emigre is AUD$110 locally. Incidentally, The Colonial Estate was setup by Jonathan Maltus but was put placed into administration in 2009(?), and the winery was sold in 2010 for a mere $650,000 (after costing millions to build the facility). I do believe it is operated by Teusner Wines now.

    Feb 19, 2013 at 3:32 PM

  • Snooth User: Matt Walker
    Hand of Snooth
    842795 61,472

    Terence, I think the Emigre must be listed incorrectly (unless they have radically changed the wine) as I have found it at only $30 US here in the states.

    Feb 19, 2013 at 6:28 PM

  • Snooth User: Terence Pang
    Hand of Snooth
    1067620 48,664

    Hi Matt, I hadn't bought Colonial wines for about 2 years now, so I got those figures from their pricelist, found here:

    No indication of when that order form was updated, and I've found a local clearance outlet ( selling these wines for AUD$20-30.

    Feb 19, 2013 at 7:06 PM

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