Battle of Shiraz, 1393

Battle of Shiraz, 1393



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Battle of Shiraz, 1393

The battle of Shiraz (1393) was the final clash between Tamerlane and the Muzaffarid Dynasty of southern Persia, and was a victory for Tamerlane that was followed by the total destruction of the dynasty.

Shah Shuja, the last truly successful ruler of the Muzaffarid Dynasty had offered his son's loyalty to Tamerlane from his deathbed. Zain Al-Abidin, his son and heir, had soon repudiated this offer, and had been deposed by Tamerlane, before being captured by one of his uncles, Shah Mansur. Mansur submitted to Tamerlane, and the family was restored to most of its lands. A civil war soon broke out between members of the dynasty, and this eventually pulled Tamerlane back into Persia.

In the spring of 1393 Tamerlane approached Shiraz, at the head of an army said to be at least 30,000 strong. Shah Mansur was badly outnumbered, but despite this decided to launch an attack on Tamerlane's army, almost certainly hoping to use his 4,000 armoured horsemen to kill Tamerlane.

The attack came close to success. Shah Mansur's small force was able to break through the middle of Tamerlane's army, and then charge straight at Tamerlane, possibly coming close enough to exchange blows with him. Unfortunately for Shah Mansur the rest of his force didn't do as well, and he was forced away from Tamerlane. During the retreat that followed he was caught by a force led by Tamerlane's son Shah Rukh, and beheaded. The remaining members of the Muzaffrid dynasty were soon seized and executed.


The Shirazi migration

For much of the 13th century the most important coastal town was Mogadishu, a mercantile city on the Somalian coast to which new migrants came from the Persian Gulf and southern Arabia. Of these, the most important were called Shirazi, who, in the second half of the 12th century, had migrated southward to the Lamu islands, to Pemba, to Mafia, to the Comoro Islands, and to Kilwa, where by the end of the 12th century they had established a dynasty. Whether they were actually Persian in origin is somewhat doubtful. Though much troubled by wars, by the latter part of the 13th century they had made Kilwa second in importance only to Mogadishu. When the Kilwa throne was seized by Abū al-Mawāhib, major new developments ensued. Kilwa captured Mogadishu’s erstwhile monopoly of the gold trade with Sofala and exchanged cloth—much of it made at Kilwa—and glass beads for gold and with the great wealth that resulted new pottery styles were developed, a marked increase in the import of Chinese porcelain occurred, and stone houses, which had hitherto been rare, became common. The great palace of Husuni Kubwa, with well over 100 rooms, was built at this time and had the distinction of being the largest single building in all sub-Saharan Africa. Husuni Ndogo, with its massive enclosure walls, was probably built at this time, too, as were the extensions to the great mosque at Kilwa. The architectural inspiration of these buildings was Arab, their craftsmanship was of a high standard, and the grammar of their inscriptions was impeccable. Kilwa declined in the late 14th century and revived in the first half of the 15th, but then—partly because of internal dynastic conflict but also partly because of diminishing profits from the gold trade—it declined again thereafter.

Elsewhere, especially on the Kenyan coastline, the first half of the 15th century seems to have been a period of much prosperity. Whether at Gede (south of Malindi) or at Songo Mnara (south of Kilwa), architectural styles were relatively uniform. Single-story stone houses, mostly of coral, were common. Each coastal settlement had a stone mosque, which, typically, centred upon a roofed rectangular hall divided by masonry pillars. Chinese imports arrived in ever larger quantities, and there are signs that eating bowls were beginning to come into more common use. Mombasa became a very substantial town, as did Pate, in the Lamu islands. The ruling classes of these towns were Muslims of mixed Arab and African descent who were mostly involved in trade beneath them were African labourers who were often slaves and a transient Arab population. The impetus in this society was Islamic rather than African. It was bound by sea to the distant Islamic world, whence immigrants still arrived to settle on the East African coast, to intermarry with local people, and to adopt the Swahili language. The impact of these settlements was limited, while their influence upon the East African interior was nonexistent.

During the 15th century, Shirazi families continued to rule in Malindi, Mombasa, and Kilwa and at many lesser places along the coast. They also dominated Zanzibar and Pemba. The Nabahani, who were of Omani origin, ruled at Pate and were well-represented in Pemba as well. Coastal society derived a certain unity by its participation in a single trading network, by a common adherence to Islam, and by the ties of blood and marriage among its leading families. Politically, however, its city-states were largely independent, acknowledging no foreign control, and their limited resources confined their political activities to East Africa and to a variety of local rivalries—Zanzibar and Pemba, for example, appear frequently to have been divided between several local rulers. Mombasa occupied the premier position on this part of the coast, although its control over the area immediately to the north was disputed by its main rival, Malindi. Close connections seem to have existed between Mombasa and a number of places to the south. Its Shirazi rulers were able to mobilize military support from some of the inland peoples, and as a result of the place it had won in the trade of the northwestern Indian Ocean they had turned Mombasa into a prosperous town. Its population of about 10,000 compared with only 4,000 at Kilwa.


Spanish Flu and the End of World War I in Southern Iran from 1917-1920

The Spanish Flu was one of the disasters in the history of Iran, especially Southern Iran, which led to the death of a significant number of people in Iran. It started on October 29, 1917, and lasted till 1920 - a disaster that we can claim changed the history. In one of the First World War battlefields in southern Iran in 1918, there was nothing left until the end of World War I and when the battle between Iranian warriors (especially people of Dashtestan and Tangestan in Bushehr, Arabs, and people of Bakhtiari in Khuzestan and people of Kazerun and Qashqai in Fars) and British forces had reached its peak. As each second encouraged the triumph for the Iranians, a flu outbreak among Iranian warriors led to many deaths and, as a result, military withdrawal. The flu outbreak in Kazerun, Firoozabad, Farshband, Abadeh, and even in Shiraz changed the end of the war. In this article, we attempt to discuss the role of the Spanish flu outbreak at the end of one of the forefronts of World War I.

Keywords: Britain Fars Iran Spanish Flu World War I.


Battle of Shiraz, 1393 - History

The most important function of miniature was illustration. It gave a visual image to the literary plot, making it more enjoyable, and easier to understand. Miniature developed into a marriage of artistic and poetic languages and obtained a deep and sincere accordance with poetry.

During the last ten centuries there have been many great literary works to inspire the great artists of their day. At the end of the 10th Century, Ferdowsi created his immortal epic poem "Shahnameh" (The Book of Kings), which at some 50 thousand couplets, relates through fact and legend, the history of the country from the creation of the world to the Arab conquests in the 7th Century. In the 12th Century, the poet Nezami created his romantic "Khamsa" (five stories in verse), which was very popular, and was imitated several times by Indian poets writing in Persian.

The 13th Century saw the creation of great works by Saadi, the author of the famous "Bustan" and "Golestan". Golestan is a collection of moralizing and entertaining anecdotes and proverbs written in elegant rhymed prose, and at intervals, with fitting lines of verse. Bustan is a didactic poem, lyrical in tone and anecdotal in composition. It is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Persian literature.

Tabriz School, "Pandj Gandj", Amir Khosrow Dehlavi
In the 14th Century, there were enlightening and romantic works by Amir Khosroe Dehlavi, Khajoo Kermani, Hafez, and Kamal Khodjandi. While the 15th Century was the time for the many faceted poet Jami, who wrote the seven epic poems called "Haft Owrang"(The Seven Thrones or Ursa Major). His poetry embraced all the different categories of preceding literature.

This great wealth of inspiring literature gave rise to the emergence of many important miniature schools, each with its own unique style, creating a great diversity of paintings. It was through these schools that miniature painting achieved its splendid development both in Iran and central Asia. Three of the most influential schools were in Shiraz, Tabriz, and Herat.

In the 13th and 14th Centuries Shiraz, the capital of Fars witnessed a new rise in the development of its cultural life. This was the time of Saadi, Khajoo Kermani, and Hafez. Poetry flourished and so did miniature. One of the most important works for the illustrators of the period was "Shahnamah", and in Shiraz there were a large staff of painters dedicated to it. In the Shiraz miniatures of the 14th Century, symmetry of construction was predominant, and for the most part composition was frieze-like, straightforward and monotonous.

Nevertheless, the Shiraz school was to have great influence throughout Iran, and by the end of the 15th Century it was producing miniatures of highest quality. The illustrations for "Khamseh" (1491) by Nezami serve as an example of Shiraz art at its peak. All is complete, and clear, both in composition and the distribution of detail, and in the outline of the silhouettes. The lines are firm and confident.

At the close of the 13th Century, the Tabriz school of art had been established. The early artistic development of the Tabriz school differed from that of Shiraz, as their illustrations tended to combine Far Eastern traits with the Armeno-Byzantine style of painting. This latter influence can be explained by the geographical situation of Tabriz, which is on the frontier of the Armenian region.

Herat School, "Khamseh", Nezami
Closer relations sprung up between different artistic styles of Shiraz and Tabriz art schools at the beginning of the 15th Century. This time is connected with a great migration of painters which begun after Timur had conquered Baghdad (in 1393, 1401) and Tabriz (1402). Many of them were brought to Samarkand, the capital of the conqueror, as well as to the court of his grandson, Iskandar Sultan, the ruler of Shiraz. In the new studios they adapted to the already existing ideas and tastes, but at the same time they introduced much of the traditions they had followed long before the migration.

In the 16th Century, on the vast territories of Iran and central Asia, poetry by Jami was extremely popular, and it enriched the art of painting with new themes. This was the start of great development throughout the various schools of art in Iran. In the Tabriz miniatures of the period, there appeared a magnificent ability to create within a limited space, a full illusion of a particular scene or landscape for example, a picture of a palace building, including part of its yard, inner garden and the palace interior.

Architecture and landscape from now on were included as fully as possible. The figures within the composition were no longer constrained and static, and were painted in a more lively and natural way.

In the first half of the 15th Century an art school was established in Herat. The very best of the artists in the Tabriz and Shiraz schools moved here. In the early Herat miniatures figure painting became much more skilful and drawing gained greater accuracy. As the skill of the painters increased, the figures were placed more confidently and the rythmic structure of the composition became more complicated. The Herat artists were exceptional at portraying people, making the surrounding a mere accompaniment.

One of the best known and most influential painters from the Herat school was Kamal-od-Din Behzad, whose creative art was greatly influenced by the works of the poets Jami and Navai. In his own works there appeared a unique attention to portraying not just people but what surrounded them in their daily lives. Behzad's paintings brought miniature to its genuine bloom. He shared the fame of Herat painting with other outstanding miniature painters of the time: his teacher and the head of the court studio, Mirak Nakkash, Kasim 'Ali, Khwadja Muhammad Nakkash, and Shah Muzaffar.

The theme of miniatures became more limited as time went by. In the 17th Century there were mainly love scenes, portraits and some even copied European pictures. In the 18th Century there appeared a new genre of flowers and birds.


Persepolis — City of Persians

Around 60 km northeast of Shiraz, at the foot of the Koh-e-Rahmat (Mountain of Mercy) in Iran, lie the ruins of one of the greatest cities of the Achaemenid Empire: Persepolis.

Known as Parsa in Old Persian (meaning city of Persians) and Takht-e-Jamshed in modern Persian, Persepolis is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, designated as such in 1979.

Evidence of prehistoric settlement from the site upon which Persepolis is built shows that the area had been occupied long before Darius I, or Darius the Great if you prefer, made it his capital during his reign from 522 to 486 BCE. Darius was the third king of the Achaemenid Empire that lasted for over 2 centuries, and which Persian King, Cyrus the Great had established in the 6th century BCE.

Darius wanted to move the capital that Cyrus had established in Pasargadae to give the Persian administration a fresh start. But he located Persepolis in a remote region, making travel there difficult, so the administration of the Empire was overseen from other major cities such as Babylon, Susa and Ecbatana. The new city therefore became the ceremonial capital.

There are nine structures in the entire complex and Darius built three of these while his son Xerxes I (he of the movie 300 fame) and grandson Artaxerxes I completed the rest. Excavations have also revealed a marketplace, residential buildings and most probably a palace for Artaxerxes.

Darius the Great raised an enormous platform terrace on the Marv Dasht plain, upon which he ordered his capital city to be built and this is the first site you see as you approach it. The initial structures included his council hall, palace, and reception hall (or the Apadana).

The main building material were limestone and mud bricks but the reception hall featured a 200 foot-long (60 meters) brightly decorated hall with 72 columns 62 feet (19 meters) high supporting a roof of cedar beams from Lebanon.

Sculptures of animals symbolizing the king’s authority, such as the bull and lion sat atop the columns. The outside walls of the platform depicted people from the 23 subject nations of the Achaemenid Empire, arriving with gifts for the king. These bas-relief depictions are extremely precise and you can actually identify the nationalities represented. A large elevated cistern was carved at the eastern foot of the mountain behind the platform to catch rainwater for drinking and bathing. An irrigation system called the Qanat supplied water to villages and farms via wells and ducts. It is still in use all over Iran today.

The grandeur of the site is due to Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I however, and later Achaemenid kings added their own embellishments. The great palace complex built by Xerxes I was entered through the Gate of All Nations, flanked by two monumental statues of lamassu (bull-men) who were thought to ward off evil.

Xerxes built his harem with 22 apartments behind which he also built the Treasury to house government archives, religious works and other writing, art, loot from conquests, and tributes brought by subject nations.

Around 4 km northeast of Persepolis is Naqsh-e-Rustom, a necropolis housing the rock cut cliff tombs of Darius the Great, and his successors (probably Xerxes I and Artaxerxes I). Later Persian emperors, most notably the Sassanians, added rock reliefs to the necropolis.

The most famous one is of the Sassanian king Shapur I on horseback, with the Roman Emperor Valerian bowing to him in submission, and Philip the Arab (an earlier emperor who paid Shapur tribute) holding Shapur’s horse, while the dead Emperor Gordian III, killed in battle, lies beneath it. This commemorates the Battle of Edessa in 260 CE, when Valerian became the only Roman Emperor captured as a prisoner of war, something that the Sassanians never tired of reminding the Romans.

However, the oldest relief at Naqsh-e Rostam dates back to around 1,000 BCE and is thought to be pre Persian Elamite in origin. The man in the relief gives the site its name, Naqsh-e Rostam (“Rustam Relief” or “Relief of Rustam”),because it was locally believed to be a depiction of the mythical hero Rustam.

The function of a mysterious cube like structure called kaba-e-zartosht or cube of Zoroaster situated exactly opposite the tomb of Darius II has puzzled archaeologists some say it was a fire temple, others call it a mausoleum and or even a treasury for important documents. It probably acquired the name during the Muslim period and later on Europeans started associating it with fire-worship because the inside walls of the structure were blackened with soot. Side note: cube-like structures were built all over the Middle East for religious purposes, long before Muslims adopted the Kaaba.

So, what happened to Persepolis? Well, Alexander the Great happened. In 330 BCE, during the reign of Darius III, Alexander plundered the city and burned the whole place down including the palace of Xerxes, apparently while partying with his troops.

Persepolis remained the capital of Persis as a province of the Macedonian empire until 316 BCE but eventually declined under the Seleucid kingdom.

However, it remained a place of considerable importance in the first century of Islam, but the new city of Shiraz nearby soon made it insignificant. In the mid-11th century, the Seljuq Emir Qutulmish razed it and transferred its population to Shiraz.

Persepolis remained hidden and forgotten under its own ruins till 1618 when it was re-discovered as the ancient capital. Excavations of the site started in 1931, providing ample evidence for a great fire.

It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth a visit if you find yourself in Iran.

You can also check out my video and audio podcast on this. Please also check out my website, follow on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit)and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.


Battle of Bosworth 2018 Puritan Organically Grown Shiraz (McLaren Vale)

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This family run winery has farmed organically since 1995. Their “Puritan” Shiraz is unoaked and made with no added sulfur. It's unadulterated, clean and vibrant, and smells of a winery crush pad at vintage time. Brambly purple and blue fruits, yeast and undertones of bay leaf, licorice, ground pepper and cocoa. Racy acidity slices through the plush, tangy fruit, and sappy, spicy tannins cinch. An exhilarating wine that magnifies Shiraz's raw power. Drink now. Christina Pickard

How We Blind Taste

All tastings reported in the Buying Guide are performed blind. Typically, products are tasted in peer-group flights of from 5-8 samples. Reviewers may know general information about a flight to provide context&mdashvintage, variety or appellation&mdashbut never the producer or retail price of any given selection. When possible, products considered flawed or uncustomary are retasted.

Ratings reflect what our editors felt about a particular product. Beyond the rating, we encourage you to read the accompanying tasting note to learn about a product’s special characteristics.


Shiraz is located in the mountainous Zagros area, at an altitude of 1585 meters above sea level. Shiraz is surrounded by Zagros mountains named Sabz Pooshan, Derak, Chehel Magham, and Baba Koohi. A seasonal river crosses through the city and reaches Maharloo Lake located in the southeast of the city. Shiraz has a four-season climate with hot summers with an average high of 38.8 °C, and mild autumns and winters with 300 mm rainfall, and springs with very pleasant weather about 20 °C.

Apart from its lovely and peaceful atmosphere which makes it one of the top cities of Iran for travelers, Shiraz has many historical and cultural attractions, from Zand and Qajar dynasties. Many of the attractions are situated inside the city, while the monuments left from the ancient empires are located around the city and are about one or two hours driving from Shiraz.

Vakil Bazaar

Located at the heart of the historic district of Shiraz, the old Vakil Bazaar is one of the most amazing bazaars that should be visited in Iran. This nostalgic bazaar dates back to the 11th century and consists of alleys, caravanserais, courtyards, mosques, old shops, etc. Today, Vakil Bazaar is still crowded by the locals who buy and sell varied products from clothes to rugs, spices, and antiques, and this is what makes it a fascinating place for a visit.

Nasir al Mulk Mosque

Known as the Pink Mosque because of its stunning colorful tilework, Nasir al Mulk Mosque is now an icon in Shiraz. This mosque was constructed by the governor of Fars Mr. Mirza Hasan Ali Khan during the Qajar Dynasty. The glamour of colorful lights shining into the main hall of the mosque through the stained glass windows has made Nasir al Mulk Mosque one of the best photography spots and highlights in Iran.

Jame Atiq Mosque

This is one of the oldest constructions of Shiraz, which was built during the Saffaris Dynasty and is known for the unique structure in the middle of its courtyard named "Khodaykhaneh" or the house of God. This mosque is located right behind Shah Cheragh and is a sacred place among the locals of Shiraz.

KarimKhan Citadel

This brick monument is where Karimkhan, the king of the Zand Dynasty used to live during his kingdom and is a combination of residential and military architecture. Karimkhan Citadel (called Arg e Karimkhan in Persian) was later the house of Qajarid commanders in Shiraz and then used as a prison during Pahlavi time. This magnificent brick monument in the middle of the city is a part of the Zand complex which is a must-see in Shiraz.

Eram Garden

The charming Eram Garden, constructed during the 13th century, is one of the Persian Gardens inscribed by UNESCO as a world heritage site because of its quadripartite design, its amazing pavilion, and high cypresses. With hundreds of plant species, Eram Garden is also a botanical garden, which is a significant study resource for botany students.

Hafez Tomb or Hafeziyeh is the funerary monument of Hafez (Hafiz) the famous Iranian poet living in Shiraz during the 14th century. This construction was smartly designed and built for Hafez centuries after his death to project the splendor of his poems and the philosophy behind the verses, therefore locals of Shiraz have a special bond with this atmospheric and peaceful place.

Naranjestan Ghavam

Ghavam family was an influential family in Iran&rsquos politics, living in Shiraz during Qajar Dynasty. The residential house of Muhammad Ghavam, named Naranjestan-e Ghavam (meaning Ghavam Orange House) is a splendid monument with eye-catching ornaments like colorful tile works and mirror works and a lush orange garden which becomes so aromatic by orange blossoms in spring.

Persepolis

Known as one of the most important legacies of the ancient world and one of the top attractions in Iran, Persepolis is located 60 kilometers away from Shiraz and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient city was built in 518 BC. by Darius the king of the Achaemenid as the ceremonial capital and includes different palaces with mind-blowing glorious architecture and ornaments.

Naqsh-e Rostam

Located near the Persepolis, Naqsh-e Rostam is an ancient necropolis with four cross-shaped rock tombs related to four of the Achaemenid kings. There are some bass reliefs showing battle scenes and coronations of the Sassanid kings, and another building called Ka'abe ye Zartosht (the cube of Zoroaster).

The ancient city of Bishapour is located 140 kilometers away from Shiraz and was constructed by the order of Shapour the king of the Sassanid Dynasty around 241 AD.


Battle of Shiraz, 1393 - History

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Brokenwood Graveyard And Tyrrell’s 4 Acres Shiraz: Irresistible Australian Hunter Valley Shiraz

The Hunter Valley, a couple of hours’ drive to the north-northwest of Sydney, would probably not be the first place that anyone would plant grapes if they were starting from scratch today. It can be intolerably hot and, while rain during vintage is not compulsory, it is a regular intrusion. As is hail. And, of course, if it is not raining during any vintage, drought seems to be the other option.

What grapes excel here? Shiraz for the reds, but Shiraz excels in many parts of Australia. The warmer regions, such as McLaren Vale and the Barossa, as well as cooler climes such as central Victoria provide serious competition. Whites? Chardonnay in its own way, but the star is Semillon. Semillon? Sure, wonderful as the major component of Sauternes, but as a dry white from a warm region in Australia?

As it happens, the Hunter Valley’s Semillon is unique. It is made with alcohol around just 11 percent and does not see oak. It can be somewhat bland when young, but given time we see it transform much like the ugly duckling blossoming into the beautiful swan. Stunning wines that can age and improve for decades.

Hunter Shiraz is soft, slightly plush, gentle, elegant, and yet full of flavor. Sometimes a smidge rustic, but again a wine that can age and improve for many years. The 1965 Twin Bins 3100 and 3110 from Lindeman’s, which I recently wrote about, provided compelling evidence of that.

Indeed, they were the wines that got me thinking about revisiting the region. Those wines plus the 2018 vintage, which might just be the finest in the Hunter since ’65. And from 2018, rather than a wide collection of notes on numerous deserving wines, I am going with two of my absolute favorites – not just from the Hunter but from any region: Tyrrell’s 4 Acres and Brokenwood’s Graveyard.

Brokenwood’s visitor center

Tyrrell’s is one of Australia’s oldest wineries. Brokenwood, by comparison, seems like the new kid on the block, but I believe that it is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. One hopes it goes better than the fortieth.

I would hastily point out that the tastings and events hosted at Brokenwood’s winery in the Hunter for the fortieth-anniversary event (and let me digress slightly by saying that the newly opened facility and restaurant has very quickly become the place to go when visiting the region) went wonderfully well.

The problem was, if I may be permitted, yet another digression, an “interesting” trip from Sydney. A minicab was arranged to pick a group of us up from Sydney’s airport (including a member of this country’s wine-writing royalty, who was also one of the founding partners of Brokenwood, way back when some of us were happy with a glass of cold milk from the local kindergarten).

We were told that our driver from the Happy Cabbie company (and wasn’t that ironic) would meet us at the airport at luggage carousel 1. We headed that way and although he was nowhere near we eventually spotted him with his sign. One of our number mentioned that we were headed to luggage 1, so lucky we saw him (actually, to spot him, all we needed to do was look for someone who looked like he had just escaped from jail, the Shawshank way).

“Well, who told you to go there?”

“They were the instructions from your company,” she responded.

“Well, that might be where the company says but it is not where I wait.” Apparently our fault for not knowing that.

Our éminence grise had a few old bottles in tow he was kindly contributing to the tastings, and we needed to wait until they cleared the special luggage area. Our driver, who we had dubbed Basil, was not happy at not departing immediately.

I attempted a little idle small talk to fill the awkward silence as we waited. I was aware that there was another bus later, so I asked if he knew who was going on that one.

“No.” This is going well. “Well, it is in my folder but I’m not going to look.”

Finally, we headed off. Everyone had gear but no help was offered. Our one female was drowning under stuff.

We asked if we could stop somewhere as none of us had had lunch, and some had had no breakfast.

Yes, he’ll stop on the way. A good spot was suggested. “No, not stopping there.”

Halfway up, we headed off the main road to a spot – turned out so he could pick up his wife and give her a lift. We filed out and he said, “You got five minutes.” It was a dire place and, seriously, I was expecting banjo music any moment.

We mentioned we intended to order some food, so we checked if we could eat on the minibus.

“Okay, we may be a little bit longer than five minutes then.”

Which we, of course, ignored.

The choice was Subway or KFC. For no particular reason, probably because it was closer, we went to Subway. And there, at the counter ordering food, was a bloke in a McDonalds uniform. I kid you not. We ordered, sat down, but in charged Basil and insisted we go. We made it clear we’ll be finishing. He was not going to wait so a compromise was reached, and we could finish eating on the bus – presumably, arriving sans passengers is not considered a good look in transport circles.

We got to the bus and he said, wife strewn across the front seat, looking like she had just had the conjugal visit she’d been so long denied and discovered it was not all she hoped, “I want $57 from each of you.”

We pointed out that it had all been organized at his office and paid for by Brokenwood.

“I’m not going another inch till you each give me $57.”

We were not moving and not paying him.

Eventually, he agreed to ring his office.

We assume that his apology was when he slammed the door and started driving again without a word. Before long, he tried it again. Same result, although someone did ask how much he charged his wife for the lift. One of our number had a real job as an extremely senior detective who spent years dealing with various gangland wars and murders. He finally had enough. Despite the fact that Basil was a good foot taller than him, Basil was placed firmly against the van and the riot act was read.

Basil appeared truly stunned that there could be any question as to the high level of personal service he had been providing. Suffice it to say that neither Basil nor the Happy Cabbie company was seen for the return journey a few days later. I’ll confess I have rarely laughed as much as I did on that trip.

Tyrrell’s Cellar Door and Old Hut

Tyrrell’s history

Tyrrell’s began when Edward Tyrrell took up a concessional allotment of 320 acres of Hunter Valley land in 1858, several years after he had arrived from England. He planted Shiraz and Semillon although they were more likely known as Hermitage and Shepherd’s Riesling respectively in those days. His first harvest was 1864. Edward had ten children, and the eldest of them, Dan, took over in 1889 at just 18. He went on to oversee an extraordinary 69 vintages.

Dan’s nephew, the legendary Murray, took over in 1959, revolutionizing the operation. He emphasized tasting visits, bringing in customers, and ensuring their loyalty. Murray also established Australia’s first mail-order wine club and created what is known as the Private Bin system, where grapes harvested from Tyrrell’s best vineyards were matured in individual oak barrels with the wines then named after those vats.

Hence, we have Vat 1 Semillon (almost 5,500 medals and more than 330 trophies gives an indication of just how good Hunter Semillon, and this wine in particular, can be) Vat 47 Chardonnay Vats 5 and 9 Shiraz and more.

Murray’s son, Bruce, joined the business in 1974 and took over in 2000. Today, he is ably assisted by his own son, Chris. Chief winemaker Andrew Spinaze has been with them since 1980.

The Tyrrell family in the Hunter Valley

In 1983, to celebrate 125 years of winemaking, Tyrrell’s released not only the famous 1976 Pinot Noir that won the 1979 inaugural “Olympics of Wine” in Paris, organized by French food and wine magazine Gault-Millau (always controversial, a Hunter Pinot?), but also the 1979 Anniversary Hermitage (Hermitage was still in vogue then as the name for Shiraz, but not permitted now), which came from Tyrrell’s 4 Acres vineyard (visitors to Tyrrell’s will have passed it on the way up the drive). This was, to my knowledge, the first specific release from that vineyard.

Tyrrell’s 4 Acres vineyard in the Hunter Valley

Despite being named 4 Acres Vineyard (4 acres = 1.6 hectares), it contains just 1.05 hectares of Shiraz, planted in 1879 by Edward Tyrrell, meaning a very limited production. There was more, but in 1964 the company retired its draft horses, which meant “cultivation by tractor” and so every second row was removed (so same area, just half the production).

There is also some Pinot Noir as well, but for our purposes it is these wonderful old Shiraz vines on which we focus. This vineyard is part of the Sacred Sites program. Until the introduction of 4 Acres Shiraz, the grapes were used as part of Vat 9.

Allow me to intrude with a quick word on vintages. The Hunter can suffer from less-than-stellar vintages. This is not Margaret River where every year is simply a variation on the theme of perfection, or so it seems.

However, the Hunter Valley recently saw three absolute crackers: 2017, 2018, and 2019. For reds, 2018 seems to be universally accepted as the pinnacle, and it may well be the best vintage since 1965. Put simply, you cannot have too many 2018 Hunter reds in your cellar.

Tyrrell’s has a number of reds that are of the highest caliber – Vat 9, Old Patch, and Old Hillside among them – but this is the wine that always captures my imagination. It is not made very often – 2007, 2011, and 2014 were three early offerings – but when it is, and you find it, do not hesitate. The 2018 has been followed by 2019, another stellar year.

Tyrrell’s tasting notes

4 Acres Shiraz 2018 (AUD$165) – There is usually a small percentage of whole bunches included in this wine, which sees natural fermentation, before spending 14 months in a single, large, older oak cask (2,400 liters).

Tyrrell’s 4 Acres Shiraz 2019

A glorious nose. Mulberries, lingonberries, dark fruits, plums, spices, tobacco leaves. A wine with immaculate balance, a soft and supple texture and the silkiest of tannins. Ethereal. There is both depth of flavor and serious complexity here. Great length. A wine of poise and grace and one that will undoubtedly give many years of pleasure. 98.

Brokenwood history

Brokenwood was established in 1970 by three wine-obsessed Sydney solicitors (lawyers for those from different regimes) – James Halliday, Tony Albert, and John Beeston. Both Beeston and especially Halliday went on to write extensively about wine. They paid $970/acre for a ten-acre block, a record at the time. One of Australia’s first boutique wineries, the first vintage was 1973, and despite claims from the trio not to have any idea of viticulture it was soon a raging success.

Brokenwood Graveyard vineyard

Wanting to expand the white range, in 1982 they employed a young up and comer, Iain Riggs, as winemaker, CEO, bottlewasher, and everything else. Riggsy, as he is known, retired a year or so ago (although one suspects that he won’t be found too far from his beloved winery), having influenced the Australian wine industry in more ways than we will probably ever know.

There is hardly an honor he has not won (earned might be a better word), including the Women in Wine Award – I still have no idea how he managed that – and he is a recipient of the Order of Australia.

He has mentored an extraordinary number of young winemakers, who can now be found all through Australia and New Zealand as well as further offshore. He also leaves a legacy of wonderful wines, not least the Graveyard, a single vineyard Shiraz first made in 1983, although it was not named that for the first release. Graveyard would not appear on a label until the 1984 vintage.

All manner of stories, some more than likely apocryphal, have emerged from the early days.

This was a place where people worked hard (sometimes) and played even harder. Friends often came up for the weekend to assist, and on one occasion local legend Len Evans was seen delivering grapes from the vineyard to the winery in his Bentley.

Len Evans judging wine at the Royal Wine Show in Sydney in 1994 (photo courtesy Fairfax Media/Getty Images)

While most worked hard when they had to, partner Tony Albert was not known for his affinity with manual labor, hailing from one of Sydney’s more affluent families. It is alleged that on one occasion it was his turn to man the cellar door for the weekend. He grabbed hold of newly arrived Iain Riggs and asked what the cellar door usually took over a weekend. In those days, as Riggsy advised him, it was around the not inconsiderable sum of $2,000. Albert immediately pulled out his checkbook, signed a check for that amount, shut the doors, and took off, not to be seen again that weekend.

A lot of fun was had as well. One story sees a young, not-to-be-named Romeo who arrived for a weekend in the early days of Brokenwood with his very attractive Juliet, horrified to discover that the sleeping quarters were what you might call communal.

Not to be deterred after the lights went out, every half hour, like clockwork, there was much huffing and puffing from his corner. This continued long into the night and finally the rest of the party was so impressed that it could restrain itself no longer and switched on the lights to share in our Lothario’s epic performance only to find him re-inflating his airbed, which had sprung a leak and emptied itself every 30 minutes.

It seems Juliet had found Romeo a little tiresome and headed for Sydney many hours earlier.

Why Graveyard? The site was originally intended to act as the local cemetery for Pokolbin. I doubt anyone would argue that it found a much higher purpose as a vineyard of the highest caliber.

It is a 15-hectare vineyard with numerous blocks designated within: Pa’s, 7 Acre, Bush, Duck’s, Road, Middle, End, Kat’s and Dog’s, State of Origin, Vegas, and Trees. I’m always surprised that they named part of it “State of Origin.”

State of Origin is the name of the annual rugby league battle between the state of New South Wales (where the Hunter is located) and Queensland to the north – the sporting highlight of the year for many. Despite having a fraction of players from which to choose and suffering underdog status every year, time after time the Queenslanders give their southern compatriots a walloping. Quite why New South Wales would wish to remind itself of that, I’m not sure.

Regular readers will be aware of my view of the great 1965 twin bis from Lindeman’s, two monumental Shiraz. I’ve long believed that the only Hunter red I have tasted since then that might challenge them is the 1986 Brokenwood Graveyard. A true superstar.

With the 2018 Graveyard, we might just have found another 2019 will be released in May 2021. Only a whisker short of the ’18, I fear it might forever live in its shadow. That said, grab as much of either as you can find. Another incentive? There will be no 2020 Graveyard.

Brokenwood tasting notes

Brokenwood Graveyard 2018 (AUD$350) – The wine sees a three-day cold soak and then four to five days’ fermenting at 24-26°C. 100 percent French oak, none of it new.

Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz

Monumental. A wonderful wine. Will not be easy to find but at this price a real bargain compared to what one has to pay for the great First Growths and Grand Cru Burgundies these days. Young, obviously. Ripe and plush, with 2018’s trademark finesse and tannin management.

Chocolate, dark berries, warm earth, and more – the flavors just keep coming. Complex, balanced, good grip. It needs at least a decade but is so gorgeous now, how does one resist? Focused, with great length and the intensity maintained throughout, beautiful tannins, knife-edge balance. A stunning wine. One of the great Graveyards. 99.

Stuart Hordern, Brokenwood Graveyard winemaker

Brokenwood Graveyard 2019 (AUD$350) – Few wines have had a harder act to follow than this one on the heels of the stupendous 2018, but has given it a red-hot go. Tight and youthful with firm tannins. Flavors of chocolate, plums, dry herbs, black fruits, fresh leather. It doesn’t quite have the almost-unique combination of exuberance and finesse the 2018 exhibits, but it has other charms. It would be fair to suggest that this is more typically Graveyard in character than the ’18. Complexity and length and a cracking future. Backed by juicy acidity. 98.


Second-Hand Sword & Sorcery: Avalon’s Barbarians

Reprints of 1970s material in the 1990s gave us second-hand Sword & Sorcery. Avalon Communications, a Canadian company, published two issues of Barbarians in 1998. This comic scavenged its contents from Charlton and Warren, even its covers were not new. The first issue bore a Tony deZuniga image swiped from a Frazetta painting and the second had some repurposed Tom Sutton art from The Many Ghosts of Dr. Graves #60 (December 1976). The interest in cheap S&S comics may have been spurred by the popularity of Sam Raimi’s Hercules, The Legendary Journeys and Xena, Warrior Princess. ACG also reprinted Sam Glanzman’s Hercules comics from Charlton that year.

Art by Tom Sutton

Issue One

Art by Tony deZuniga Art by Al Milgrom

Art by Jeff Jones

“The Guardian Spiders” was written by an unknown author but had art by Jeff Jones. It appeared in The Charlton Bullseye #1 (January-February 1975). Damara of Arcadia and her barbarian beau, Balor, go to a cave where emeralds have been hidden. They are protected by giant spiders. Balor uses the stones as a prism to ward off the arachnids.

Art by Pat Boyette

“The Great Battles of History: Shiraz” was Mike Kaluta’s earliest comic art. It appeared in Flash Gordon #18 (January 1970). The comic was written by Raymond Marais. Five short pages tells of the battle between Tamerlane and Shah Mansur in 1393.

Art by Wayne Howard

Art by Joe Staton Art by Dan Adkins, Val Mayrik and Joe Sinnott

“Who” was written by Nick Cuti and drawn by Joe Staton. It appeared in Midnight Tales #5 (September 1973). This comic was a parody of S&S with Keen the Barbarian who cries over his broken sword. The comic had a fairly obvious swipe from Marvel’s “Spell of the Dragon”, an original Brak the Barbarian story done in comics.

Art by Wayne Howard

The next two comic both appeared in Midnight Tales #16 (January 1976).

“Oberyll” was written and drawn by Wayne Howard. Harpies from a volcano are taking people from the village. Oberyll is chosen to deal with the threat. He learns that the volcano is going to explode, but when he returns the villagers stone him before he can warn them.

“Ambia!” was written and drawn by Wayne Howard. Zagga and his goblin horde threaten Queen Ambia’s pleasant kingdom. The queen herself must deal with the troublesome troll.

Issue Two

Art by Tom Sutton Art by Wayne Howard

The next three comics all came from Midnight Tales #11 (February 1975). This single issue of Midnight Tales was a Sword & Sorcery-filled comic-fest.

Art by Don Newton

“Orion” was written by Nick Cuti and drawn by Don Newton. The gamekeeper Orion goes hunting but he doesn’t realize he is about to fall prey to a vengeful goddess.

Art by Wayne Howard

“The Oracle” was written and drawn by Wayne Howard. Leah has the gift of prophecy. When Menelaus falls for her, she denies him. She thinks he is committing suicide but he is just cliff diving. They end up together and leah can see they will be happy.

Art by Joe Staton

“Jason” was written by Nick Cuti and drawn by Joe Staton. Jason does battle with a giant with a thousand eyes. At the end, he meets the the progeny of the titan. He hopes Homer never writes about this adventure.

Art by Sanjulian

Art by Wally Wood Art by Sam Glanzman

“To Kill a God” was written and drawn by Wally Wood. It appeared in Vampirella #12 (July 1971). Wally has Marcus Anthony and Cleopatra meet and fall in love. Marcus attacks the god Anubis, resulting in werewolves attacking them. Having been bitten, they move to what will become Transylvania. Cleopatra runs around topless through the whole thing.

I can remember when I saw these comics back in the day, being disappointed they were reprints. That reaction may not have been universal. Newer Sword & Sorcery fans may have missed these comics. Younger purchasers might not even have known that there were non-Marvel/Conan works out there. It was a good introduction to the S&S that appeared in Charlton Comics, and who can complain about Wally Wood?

That last piece seems oddly out of place in that it is the earliest and from a Warren magazine. But it is also quite appropriate because Wayne Howard is so clearly a Wood clone. It does suggest what later issues might have contained if ACG had continued the title. More Warren stuff, perhaps even some DC?


Quddus

Quddus was the eighteenth and last Letter of the Living and his birth name was Mulla Muhammad ‘Ali-i-Barfurushi. He was born in 1820 and martyred on the 16th of May, 1849. He is one of the three best known Letters of the Living. He was picked by the Bab to go with him on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina. He was the cousin of Mulla Husayn (the first Letter of the Living.) He attended the Conference of Badasht and had joined the Babis in the Battle of Fort Shaykh Tabarsi. He was handed over to an angry mob and in regards to this event Nabil said: “By the testimony of Baha’u’llah, that heroic youth, who was still on the threshold of his life, was subjected to such tortures and suffered such a death as even Jesus had not faced in the hour of His greatest agony.”


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