The Folded Blue: a story of shiraz and terroir

We sit down with Alex McKay and talk wine. Here, Alex gives us the story behind the Folded Blue shiraz, a wine which was made in limited quantities and which has only been available in a few select places.

Australian shiraz can cover a broad range of expressions and styles from rich and full bodied to spicy and elegant. There are many regions producing great Australian shiraz, and it’s a pleasure as a winemaker to be able to explore place and terroir through my craft.

In 2012 I looked to the cool climate Pyrenees - renowned for its premium grapes - for shiraz that year, particularly as the vintage had been a tough one in the Canberra region and beyond due to hail and other weather events. The grapes come from a vineyard is that is well-managed, very healthy, and a beautiful site for producing fine shiraz. It has similar climate and terroir to Canberra, and its base of red ferrous clay with deposits of quartz and ironstone gives the wine real depth and structure.

Grapes are dropped into the press.Winemaker Alex McKay

I used 20 per cent whole bunch grapes and chose a natural fermentation, with the wine hand worked by pigeage. The wine was matured in French oak – 25 per cent was new, and the rest seasoned Allier and Troncais oak to ensure it complemented the fruit and didn’t overpower it.

I enjoy contrasting this shiraz with our Marked Tree Red shiraz from the Canberra region – both beautiful styles of wine and yet so distinctive. The Folded Blue is a bit more muscular in its expression than the fragrant Canberra wines, although it is still very much a cool climate shiraz. It has a lovely structure and generosity.

The Folded Blue has been cellared very carefully and it is just reaching a beautiful drinking window now. It’s a great opportunity to appreciate a well-developed, mature wine without having to take the time to cellar it. Because I’ve been careful with its distribution this wine actually has a bit of a cult following at the cellar door! Many customers make the return trip just to stock up on this wine.

What would you pair this wine with?

It’s just a beautiful food wine, soft and elegant with smooth tannins. Because it has lovely ripe fruit and restrained acidity it is a perfect red wine for Malaysian lamb curry, sweet and sour dishes, or a braised beef brisket, and it enhances the spice in a dish like Kung Pao chicken, or other Sichuan dishes for that matter.

 Red wine is enjoyed with foodRed wine with a chicken dish

What’s the ideal ageing window for shiraz?

In general, shiraz really starts to come of age in about six to eight years, but with its ability to age it has captured the attention of wine lovers all around the world. With the Folded Blue, you’ll be able to appreciate it up to 25 years old. Wines from this area are renowned as very long lived, and I am enjoying seeing how this wine unfolds over time.

If you have a question for Alex – the Collector Wines vintages, food and wine pairing, or just how to enjoy a fine wine – send us an email or get in touch through social media.