Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Shiraz 2011

Drunk August 2013

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The winery

Family-owned and run, Pfeiffer Wines occupies one of the historic wineries (built in 1880) in Northeast Victoria. Pfeiffer Wines is located on the large sweeping bend in Distillery Road, Wahgunyah, Victoria near Rutherglen. The winery is run by Chris and Jen Pfeiffer. 

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In 2012 Chris Pfeiffer was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to the wine industry. Muscats, Topaques and other fortified wines are mainstay of the business. The arrival of winemaker daughter Jen, has helped Pfeiffer win trophies for the 2010 Merlot and Shiraz, and top-gold medals for the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, NV Topaque and Classic Topaque at the Victorian Wine Show 2011 . 

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The wine

The 2011 Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Shiraz 2011 was created as a result of investment by Naked Wines and its Angels. In the words of Jen herself:

"I was only 4 years old when her parents bought the historic "Old Distillery" property in Rutherglen in 1984. I loved the freedom of exploring the vineyard on her bike, and knew all the best places to hide in the winery during games of hide and seek with my cousins. Growing up in a winemaking family, I was exposed to wine culture from a very early age, and thus began the process of absorption-soaking up plenty of knowledge about the Australian and international wine industries, and being exposed to some great wines from all around the world.

I just couldn't help but return to the family business, but not before a brief stint at Melbourne University studying Science/Law. In fact, it was in 2000 that I decided to come home to "do the vintage and earn a bit of cash, then head off overseas". I was given the responsibility of making the 2000 Pfeiffer Shiraz, and discovered I loved winemaking.When I was rewarded with a gold medal for that first wine, the rest is history, as they say.

Today, I love my  winemaking role as much as ever, it appeals to both my scientific and creative mind. I believe it is the small details that can turn a good wine into a great wine. I strive for excellence across all styles, and enjoy the challenge of working with many and different varieties, from Riesling to Gamay and Shiraz to the fortifieds for which the Rutherglen region is famous.

In November 2009 (when I was 30) I was honoured to be awarded the Wine Society's Young Winemaker of the Year Sommelier's Choice Award. I was awarded the title from a pool of the very finest young winemakers from across Australia and New Zealand. The two  wines which captured the sommeliers attention were the 2008 Pfeiffer Shiraz and the 2006 Pfeiffer Christophers VP. I owe it all to those outstanding wines."

Jen Pfeiffer The Diamond Shiraz 2011 is a blend of 3 parcels of fruit from various sites within Victoria - off the home block in Rutherglen, from a vineyard within the ancient Cambrian soils of Heathcote, and from a cooler vineyard in the Pyrenees region of Western Victoria. Each parcel was harvested at different times throughout the vintage and was thus handled separately.

The Rutherglen parcel was the first in, hand-picked to ensure maximum quality. The fruit was given a cold soak for 48 hours, then fermentation was commenced. Fermentation occurred on skins until 1/3 of the ferment remained, and the wine was transferred into new French and American oak hogsheads to finish fermentation. The wine remained in these barrels for 15 months oak maturation.

The Heathcote parcel was machine harvested, transported to the winery, crushed and given a cold soak for 24 hours. Fermentation occurred on skins until the completion of fermentation. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred into 1 and 2 year old French and American oak hogsheads for maturation for 12 months. .

The Pyrenees parcel was hand picked, transported to the winery, crushed and fermentation commenced immediately. Fermentation occurred on skins until it was complete. After malolactic fermentation, the wine was transferred into 1 and 3 year old French and American oak hogsheads for maturation for 12 months.

After oak maturation, Jen tastes every barrel before deciding on the blend for the Jen Pfeiffer Diamond Shiraz. The blend was then put together in tank, and clarified and filtered in preparation for bottling.

The Diamond Shiraz is probably Jen's piece de resistance though she also produces a very good Diamond Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Shiraz is the stand out for me with bags of complexity, yet has a superb sense of balance and a long finish. Plenty of fruit and power, but restrained compared with many Aussie Shiraz's. I'm sure a few years in the cellar could make this very interesting indeed and Jen herself says it will mature in the bottle for 10 years until 2021. She also say "It is absolutely superb with slow cooked beef cheeks, rare eye fillet steak or vegetarian lasagne!!". Sounds good!

Rock it like a redhead Jen! (thanks for the extra wine facts, much appreciated).