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Barossa

Australia’s oldest, most famous and internationally renowned wine growing region located a short distance from Adelaide, South Australia, the Barossa Valley contains the sub district of the Eden Valley, and is home to some of Australia’s, and the world’s oldest Shiraz vines. The Barossa Valley’s viticultural history extends back to the early 1800’s when English and Prussian immigrants founded vineyards, enterprises and wineries still family owned to this day. The British gentry was led by George Fife Angas (Angaston), Joseph Gilbert (Pewsey Vale), Samuel Smith (Founder of Yalumba in 1847) and William Salter (Saltram 1859). On the other hand a significantly more numerous population of Lutheran’s migrated fleeing the reformation in Prussia, pioneering viticulture and agriculture, numbering among them were names synonymous with the most established wineries in Australia including Johann Gramp (1847), Joseph Seppelt (Seppelt, 1851) and William Jacob (1854). Many of these original families continue in the wine business and own vineyards. The growers of the Barossa have weathered two world wars, drought, flood, bushfire, erratic swings in market preferences from red wine to white (1970’s), the Vine Pull Scheme of the 1980s whereby 130 year old, priceless, low yielding vines were removed due to lack of demand, to emerge stronger than ever, the one constant it’s ancient weathered vineyards and stoic population.

Principally a red wine growing region, historically the varieties planted were Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro (Mourvedre) alongside Pedro Ximenez and Frontignac for the production of fortified wine. The climate is warm and dry, with cool nights and warm to hot days. The Barossa Valley contains a complex typography of valleys, hills slopes and soils. The soils vary widely though the dominate composition is a clay loam and in areas low fertility sandy soils. Although red grapes are more pervasively planted, there are small quantities of white varieties including Semillon, which is often unwooded, with bright lemon zest notes and moderate acidity. Barossa Chardonnay tends to be richer and more generous with Melon and ripe peach notes and is quick to develop and best consumed young. Riesling which are also of a more broad and generous style, though many Barossa based wineries produce more zesty examples from Clare Valley and Eden Valley fruit. Small quantities of Viognier are cultivated, used primarily for blending with Shiraz, though some outstanding mono varietal bottling’s are available, Yalumba Virgilius in particular.

Of the Red varieties Shiraz is king with considerably more planted than Grenache or Mourvedre. Significantly, many of these vines are older than Shiraz or Syrah vines planted in Europe, the Barossa being fortunate enough not to encounter the devastations of phylloxera. Typically Barossa Shiraz is full bodied, lush with notes of blackberry, plum, medium acidity and high, but soft ripe tannins. They are traditionally aged in new oak imparting flavours of graphite and cigar box (new French oak) and coconut and vanilla (new American oak), the wines are renowned for their depth and longevity. The shift in the mid-1990s towards producing blockbuster wines that were high in alcohol fuelled by high Parker scores that then pushed the prices of the wines in America and Asia to new levels encouraged some winemakers to follow suit. The pendulum has now begun to swing in the other direction, led by a new generation of producers committed to making elegant, full to medium bodied Barossa red articulating individual vineyard character.

Many of Australia’s most famous wines are made in the Barossa and some of the most recognised producers include Penfolds, Peter Lehman, Yalumba, Wolf Blass and Henschke. The quintet of Penfolds Grange (mainly old vine Barossa shiraz aged in new American oak), Penfolds RWT Shiraz , Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz (100% single vineyard), Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon and Penfolds St Henri Shiraz) are all highly sought after wines. And Henschke’s iconic single vineyard ancient vine Hill of Grace is considered by many to be the equal of Penfolds Grange in terms of both quality and as wine investment. A recent resurgence has seen many smaller artisanal wineries producing outstanding wines on small scale, including Spinifex, Teusner, Ruggabellus, Standish, Kalleske and Head Wines to name a few.

Less pervasively planted are Grenache, Mourvedre and Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon prefers a slightly cooler climate and tends to be better in cooler years and the use of French Oak is more common than American. Grenache and Mourvedre are often blended with Shiraz in a traditional Rhone Blend, though also bottles as mono varietal wines. Grenache from the Barossa tends toward sweet fruits, raspberry, with hints of spice and soft tannins. Outstanding producers include Spinifex, Kalleske, Charles Melton and Rusden.

Sources:
The Oxford Companion to Wine, (ed) Jancis Robinson
James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia, James Halliday
Australia & New Zealand Complete Book of Wine, Compiled by Len Evans
 



Rhone valley



Northern Rhone
The Rhone Valley is kept in check by a sweeping Mistral wind that is tunnelled from the north of Rhone to the open and flatter southern Rhone. The Rhone river runs through the valley dividing the schist and granite soils.

The Northern Rhone is a difficult place to grow grapes, the slopes are steep to work and costly. Most of the wines grown are premium styles and its production is tiny when compared to Southern Rhone. Syrah hits new heights here in the form of spicy delights.

Red or White? Mainly red with a small amount of white made. And there is a blend where red and white is co-fermented together in Cote Rotie. Syrah with a splash of viognier - a rarity!
 
Grapes
White: Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne
Red: Syrah

Styles
This is spicy syrah land - black olives, smoked meats, cooking spices and heady florals are common tasting descriptors. And the tannins can be firm and fine in youth, becoming slender with age. The whites are richer and fleshy, viognier is the queen of hedonism.

Favourite Producers
Guigal, Coursodon, Pierre Gonon, JL Chave, Bernard Faurie, Balthazar, Stephane Ogier

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Southern Rhone
Grenache reigns supreme in the south, although it is commonly blended with Mourvedre and syrah.   Planted throughout the region, Grenache loves the warmth and sunny exposition made available to it in southern Rhone. Look out for the galette pebbles found in Chateauneuf du Pape - these heat up during the day and the extra warmth overnight continues to ripen the grapes on the old bush vines.

From rosé to affordable weekday pizza wines (Cotes du Rhone blends) through to ageable beauties like Chateauneuf du Pape, Grenache is a chameleon of grapes centred around vibrant red fruits and slippery tannins.

Red or white? Red and a little rose. There's also a small amount of a fortified white called Muscat de Beaume de Venise

Grapes
White: Muscat a Petits Grains
Red: Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah

Styles
Cotes du Rhone are the cheerful wines you want to reach for mid-week. Their fleshy and fruit nature make them deliciously enjoyable and they won't burn a hole in your pocket. The pinnacle of Grenache is reached in Chateauneuf du Pape wines. These have built-in structure and can age gracefully for many years. Look out for Village or Cru wines such as  Vinsobres, Vaquerays, Gigondas as these are a happy medium between the bookend styles.

Favourite Producers
Font du Courtedune, Rayas, Beaucastel, Chateau de Fonsalette, Marcoux, Mont Redon

 


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  1. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017 375ml
    Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017 375ml
    Saturated ruby. Ripe black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by suggestions of cracked pepper, allspice and pungent flowers. Supple, appealingly sweet red and blue fruit preserve flavors gain energy with air, and a bright mineral element adds back-end lift. Supple tannins add shape to a persistent, floral-accented finish, which leaves cherry and spice notes behind. JOSH RAYNOLDS

    How Guigal year after year extracts such quality from such volume is astonishing. Famous for paying his growers well above market value for their grapes is probably the key. The fact that he treats this wine with every care and respect that her treats his upper eschelon wines is probably the other. Either way this is one of the most consistent wines to come out of France. PWS
    2017
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    Special Price $12.80 Regular Price $16.00
  2. Rive Droite Rive Gauche Cotes du Rhone 2020
    Rive Droite Rive Gauche Cotes du Rhone 2020
    Rive Droite Rive Gauche simply means right bank, left bank and the name derives from fruit for the wine being sourced from both sides of the river - the grenache coming mainly from the left (gauche) and the Syrah from the village of Daumazan (on the rive droite), near Tavel. It is also a French film starring the rotund wine-nut actor Gerard Depardieu - fun fact!

    This is a lovely fresh and crunchy styled Rhone from our friends at Rive Droite. There is touch of thyme and bay over red spiced fruits, layered with a little bit of red liquorice. This is a medium bodied rendition with a pure core of raspberry, wild strawberry and splash of black berry fruit in the mix. Its lithe with a lovely fresh cut to the sweet fruits that makes this look wonderfully elegant and damn easy to like.

    2020
    Grenache, shiraz
    France
    467
    Special Price $17.60 Regular Price $22.00
  3. Chapoutier Costiere de Nimes 2017
    Chapoutier Costiere de Nimes 2017
    Opens with crème de mure, wild forest fruits and summer raspberries. Plenty of mulled spices and wild herbs. The palate is full and ripe with a tangy hit of salty liquorice on the close. The tannins are soft and plush and provide a nice frame for the fruit to hang off. PWS

    A bold, rich and round expression of mixed berries with some wild herbs. Rich, fluid tannins. Smooth and approachable. JamesSuckling.com
    2017
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    $18.00
  4. Pierre Amadieu Cotes du Rhone Roulepierre 2019
    Pierre Amadieu Cotes du Rhone Roulepierre 2019
    It's been a while since we have tried the Pierre Amadieu wines and recent tasting made us question why we had for so long. A quality producer that makes a range of great northern and southern Rhone wines. There entry level CDR is a bit of a flagship and is such a joy to drink. PWS

    A 75-25 blend of Grenache and Syrah, the 2018 Cotes du Rhone Roulepierre is a fruit-forward offering with substantial weight for a "simple" Côtes du Rhône. Raspberries, cherries and garrigue come together on the charming nose, while silky tannins frame the palate and linger easily on the finish. ...It's a solid value. JOE CZWERWINSKI, eRobertParker.com
    2018
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    Special Price $18.40 Regular Price $23.00
  5. Vino de Montana Garnacha, Rufete & Pinuela 2017
    Vino de Montana Garnacha, Rufete & Pinuela 2017

    Vinos de Montaña is a range of mountain wines from high-altitude vineyards in Sierra de Gredos and other historic growing areas in the Sistema Central, the mountain chain that divides the Iberian Peninsula in its Northern and Southern halves. Based mostly on very old Garnacha vines on granite soil.

    Based on Garnache and an incredible blend of local grape varieties full of depth and complexity. 100% organic, the vineyard is situated on mountain terraces of the South of Castilla y Leon. Cool nights allow to retain plenty of freshness and the granitic soil further character. Flavours of ripe dark cherries, red plums and a hint of spice. A cracker! PWS


    2017
    Grenache
    Spain
    459
    Special Price $21.60 Regular Price $27.00
  6. Yelland & Papps Vin de Soif 2017
    Yelland & Papps Vin de Soif 2017
    Around 70% grenache, 25% mataro, 5% carignan from multiple vineyards with an average age of 87yo. Wild yeast-open fermented with a portion of whole bunches with some time on skins and touch of older oak to round it out.

    Its lifted and pretty on the nose that follows into a pure, plump and juicy plum and berry fruits, with a touch of sour cherry bite and plenty of spicy on the close. Sits somewhere between light and medium bodied with lovely balance and plenty of freshness. Juicy and up-front deliciousness that keeps on giving. We dare you to have just one glass! PWS
    2017
    Carignan, Grenache, Mourvedre, shiraz
    Australia
    349
    Special Price $21.60 Regular Price $27.00
  7. Head Red GSM 2019
    Head Red GSM 2019

    Head Wines is the intriguing, but highly focused, venture of Alex Head, who came into the wine industry in 1997 with a degree in biochemistry from Sydney University. Experience in fine wine retail stores, wholesale importers and an auction house was followed by vintage work at wineries he particularly admired: Tyrrells,Torbreck, Laughing Jack and Cirillo Estate. The labelling and naming of the wines reflects his fascination with the Northern Rhone Valley, and, in particular, Cote-Rotie. JAMES HALLIDAY, The Australian Wine Companion 2013

    50% grenache, 30% mataro and 20% shiraz from 25-76yo vines, wild yeast-open fermented with 10% whole bunches, 14 days on skins, daily plunging and pumpovers, 500 dozen made. Beautifully and harmoniously structured and textured, clarity and purity its watchwords. JAMES HALLIDAY

    2019
    Grenache, Mourvedre, shiraz
    Australia
    349
    Special Price $21.60 Regular Price $27.00
  8. Tomfoolery Young Blood Shiraz 2021
    Tomfoolery Young Blood Shiraz 2021

    Another belter Shiraz from Chippy in the Barossa. He is a part of the new wave of Barossa producers turning out wonderfuly fresh, vibrant and modern wines with a knod to what makes the wines of the region so appealing to drink.

    Dark fruits and deep-set spice greet you on the nose with along with a lovely licorice and earthy hit. The palate is forward and full of black, juicy fruit that goes on for ages. Some firm tannins give it nice structure but the wine as a whole remains soft and pliant. PWS

    2020
    shiraz
    Australia
    349
    Special Price $21.60 Regular Price $27.00
  9. Peter Lehmann H & V Shiraz 2019
    Peter Lehmann H & V Shiraz 2019
    The H&V range are designed to showcase the diversity of the Barossa and in some ways challenge the views of what consumers think. The wine is a blend of mainly Barossa and a touch of Eden fruit which adds a lovely cool edge and offers great value.

    Nicel filled with plum, blackberry and dark chocolate flavours. There is a nod to 'traditional' Barossa with the use of American hogsheads. In saying that this is surprisingly elegant and wonderfully put together. Plenty of ripe blackberry conserve and a spicy, leathery lick. We are thoroughly impressed with this little number.
    2019
    shiraz
    Australia
    349
  10. Sherrah Shiraz 2019
    Sherrah Shiraz 2019

    Well I think Mike Bennie's review says it all. This is part of the new wave of South Australian producers with a new look of bright, gluggable and deceptively serious wines. No more flattening your palate with 110% oak, this is crunchy and fresh with a nod to it's warm home in the Vale. This is a winemaker to watch. PWS

    The bottle says ‘the king of the Vale’ which is directed probably at the variety shiraz, but I’d say, like our existing monarchy in Australia, it’s a vestige of past – all hail grenache! (and other red grapes).

    Whatever your take on MVale shiraz, this is one that has mojo. Indeed, it’s stellar. It’s rippling with tannin, sure, it’s all dark fruit, dried fruits, kirsch and choc-strawberries, but there’s grip and pucker, good spice, light green herbal detail and a long but fresh finish. It’s hearty, slurpy, heartland stuff, but done really well, effortless you could say, and easy to like. MIKE BENNIE, The Wine Front

    2019
    Nero d'Avola
    Australia
    436
    Special Price $24.00 Regular Price $30.00
  11. Aphelion Welkin Grenache 2020
    Aphelion Welkin Grenache 2020

    Welkin is an Old English term which means ‘Vault of the Sky.’ Well, I’m old, and English, so it makes sense. It does, however, sound like an Old English term for something quite different. Tasted alongside the Aphelion Confluence 2019, and I like this here Welkin more. And as an aside, I once spent a night in Devon where I wandered into a barn, and all the locals were drinking scrumpy direct from barrel. The dialect was something else, and I remember it well, though I don’t quite remember the walk back to my B&B. Or mebbe I were jis welkin funny.

    Raspberry frog, spiced strawberries, something like iron filings to smell, and a pumice stone texture as it continues. It’s fresh, lively, has grip and interest, and finishes chalky and pretty long, with a sort of rosy and cool minty perfume as it goes. Lovely drink. Excellent. GARY WALSH

    2020
    Grenache
    Australia
    436
    Special Price $24.00 Regular Price $30.00
  12. Sherrah Red et al Grenache, Shiraz, Nero D'Avola 2019
    Sherrah Red et al Grenache, Shiraz, Nero D'Avola 2019

    This was a delight and utterly delicious surprise. The funny thing was, that this wine was bought in by accident but we loved it so much we just had to have some. These are small batch, Mclaren Vale wines with a focus on freshness with Alex Sherrah heading the charge. We love what he is doing and know you will too.

    Lifted with peppery, sweet spice and bright fruit that is a mash-up of raspberry, black currant and blackberry all fused together. Forward and fleshy with lovely focus and full of energy. The palate is long and easy to enjoy with the blend providing plenty of interest and something a little different to the usual GSM coming out of the region. Top stuff!

    2019
    Grenache
    Australia
    436
    Special Price $24.00 Regular Price $30.00
  13. Michael Hall Sang de Pigeon Shiraz 2017
    Michael Hall Sang de Pigeon Shiraz 2017
    ...the wines are as impressive as his experience suggests they should be. JAMES HALLIDAY

    Michael was once a jewellery valuer for Sotheby's but moved to Australia in 2001 to pursue studies and a career in winemakeing - and we are glad he did. There is nothing in his porftolio that isn't either well crafted, beautifully handled and/or speaks so eloquently of place. His work in Australia and abroad is a veritable who's who of producers including Cullen, Giaconda, Henschke, Shaw + Smith, Coldstream Hills and Veritas. In France he cut his teeth with Domaine Leflaive, Meo-Camuzet, Vieux Telegraphe and Trevallon. Wow!
     
    Hand-picked in Greenock and Stone Well, wild fermented in open fermenter and closed puncheons, 5% whole bunch, matured in French oak barrels for 21 months (10% new). Blended with 15% Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills Shiraz. PWS

    Fruit takes the front seat here, blackcurrants, note of red fruit and a dusting of cinnamon spice. Medium bodied, smooth and loaded with velvety tannin. Nothing overdone or out of place.
    95, JAMES HALLIDAY
    2017
    shiraz
    Australia
    349
    Special Price $24.80 Regular Price $31.00
  14. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017
    Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2017
    Saturated ruby. Ripe black raspberry and cherry aromas are complicated by suggestions of cracked pepper, allspice and pungent flowers. Supple, appealingly sweet red and blue fruit preserve flavors gain energy with air, and a bright mineral element adds back-end lift. Supple tannins add shape to a persistent, floral-accented finish, which leaves cherry and spice notes behind. JOSH RAYNOLDS
    2017
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
    Special Price $25.00 Regular Price $28.00
  15. Ogier Le Temps Est Venu Cotes du Rhone 2019
    Ogier Le Temps Est Venu Cotes du Rhone 2019
    A blend of 60% Grenache, 35% Syrah and 5% Mourvèdre, the 2019 Cotes du Rhone le Temps Est Venu is spruced from Plan de Dieu and Visan, both in the Southern Rhône. Aged in concrete, it offers attractive scents of garrigue, black cherries and dried spices on the nose, while in the mouth, it's full-bodied, round and generous. Gently framed by supple tannins and a touch of alcoholic warmth, it hints at cherries jubilee on the finish. JOE CZWERSKI, Robert Parker
    2019
    GSM
    France
    467
    Special Price $25.60 Regular Price $32.00
  16. Torbreck Steading GSM 2018 375ml
    Torbreck Steading GSM 2018 375ml
    Torbreck's full-bodied 2016 The Steading is a sturdy Barossa blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro. Hints of smoke and grilled meat bring savory complexity to the cherry and raspberry fruit. Firm tannins suggest cellaring a year or two, but they also serve to define the fruit, imparting shape and length to the palate. JOE CZERWINSKI, eRobertParker
    2018
    GSM
    Australia
    349
    Special Price $26.40 Regular Price $33.00
  17. Domaine Font de Courtedune Cotes du Rhone Village 2019
    Domaine Font de Courtedune Cotes du Rhone Village 2019

    Co-owner Alex Wilcox has chosen this for his 2021 Staff Pick, here's why:

    I love Southern Rhone Reds when they have ripe Grenache yet are not heavy with alcohol or oak. This 2019 Font de Coutedune is the best yet! Dense and vibrant, it's concentrated Grenache with freshness. Perfect for summer drinking but will do well in the cellar. And it's great value. The secret to this wine is the old vines grown on sandy soils to the North of Chateauneuf du Pape and some great winemaking. ALEX WILCOX, PWS

    ------

    Domaine Font de Courtedune – for now, at least – is something of an insider’s secret. With vineyards right next door to Château Rayas, and sharing the same sandy soils, this tiny Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate produces outstanding wines that are a fraction of the price of those of its famous neighbour.

    The vineyards have long been owned by the Charrier family, but the fruit was sold to the local co-operative until 1997, when René Charrier established the domaine. Today his children Caroline and Frédéric are in charge.

    Everything here is joyously traditional. The old vines (some of which are over 100 years old) are all farmed sustainably, with as little intervention as possible; a philosophy that follows through into the winery. Everything is whole-bunch, fermented and aged in concrete vats, with no oak to be found in the winery at all. They work almost exclusively with Grenache, with just a splash of Mourvèdre, Counoise, Cinsault and Terret Noir to add extra spice and body to the wines.

    This is heady and lifted with briary fruits that leap out of the glass followed by fresh cracked pepper corn, amaro spice and fresh orange peel. It's so enticing on the nose and a little air brings out a touch of wild herbs and soft vanilla. The fruits is sweet and with cool black and red fruits hemmed in nicely but fine powdery tannins. There is a touch of oppulence all round but it sits tightly in a neat and focused package.

    2016
    Grenache
    France
    467
    Special Price $28.80 Regular Price $36.00
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