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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. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. Rock of Wisdom Superfly Red 2021
    Rock of Wisdom Superfly Red 2021
    We love the Superfly range from Rock of Wisdom. These are meant to be no mess, no fuss, easy drinking juicy wines and they have well and truly nailed the brief! Minimal intervention is the name of the game here but done thoughtfully and with panache.

    This is a MGS blend and the little extra of dollop mataro brings a nice earthy hit the otherwise bight and bubby fruit. This just leaps out of the glass with gleaming red fruits and plenty of sweet spice goodness. So much energy and lift, everything feels so fresh with lots of crunchy fruit framed by the gentlest kiss of oak. So sluggable!
    2021
    Red, White Blend
    Australia
    349
  6. 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
  7. Kalleske Clarry's GSM 2020
    Kalleske Clarry's GSM 2020
    The Kalleske family have been farming and growing grapes on the same property since 1853. Their vineyards are all certified organic and biodynamic, low yielding and sustainable. The quality and consistency of what they manage to produce is always impressive and the team is never one to rest on it laurels always looking to the future. 

    The Clarry's is a blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mataro and always just seems to hit the mark with old vine grenache from the 1940s and 1960s taking centre stage. Raspberry, perfume, clove and spice, heady and intoxicating begging you to dig in. Plenty of weight and power here but offset with firm tannins that frame the beguiling fruit. Rich and plush, all that sweet baking spice packed into ripe red and black fruit, cracked pepper and almost incense like element. Bold and beautiful.
    2020
    GSM
    Australia
    349
  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
  9. Selon Letang Cinsault 2020
    Selon Letang Cinsault 2020

    STAGE 15 - FLAT - RODEZ > CARCASSONNE 202.5KM

    A range of wines that express the character of their grape varieties in Guillaume's preferred style, hence 'Selon Létang' (according to the winemaker Guillaume Létang). The style? Sleekly built but with plenty of flavour - nailed it!

    This 'croquant' Cinsault is bright and deliciously enjoyable. Unoaked, vibrant redcurrant and raspberry fruit with a wild, delicately tannic herbaceous edge. There is an almost Pinot Noir like edge to these wines or a north-west Spanish feel with its minerally flecked fruit. Either way it's a lovely Cinsault and makes us wonder why we don't see more. PWS

    2020
    Cinsault
    France
    467
  10. Tomfoolery Young Blood Grenache 2020
    Tomfoolery Young Blood Grenache 2020

    Inspired by the new wave ‘Vino Joven’ wines of the old world, Young Blood Grenache is released as a cheeky youngster with just a brief barrel maturation to retainin as much  freshness and finesse as possibkbe and it does beautifully. The fruit is open fermented utilising native yeasts, with 30% whole bunch in the mix. Gently basket pressed and racked to stainless vats (50%) and old French oak hogsheads (50%) for 6 months maturation.

    This is pure, vibrant and brimming with energy. Lithe but plenty of flavour to go around. Very slurpable. MYLES, PWS

    2020
    Grenache
    Australia
    349
  11. Laughing Jack Jack's Shiraz 2019
    Laughing Jack Jack's Shiraz 2019

    Sourced from vineyards in Greenock, Marananga and Moppa. Mostly hand picked with just a small amount mechanically picked from Home Block section.

    The grapes were 100% de-stemmed and whole berries transferred into open top fermenters. Mostly small open top with hand plunging. After fermentation, (14 to 18 days on skins) the wine drained to oak barrels and skins were hand-dug to the basket press. A percentage of the pressings are blended back in to add more firm tannins for structure. 22 months in 3% new French, 50% seasoned French, 4% new American, 33% seasoned American and 10% seasoned French oak puncheons. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and is vegan friendly.

    2019
    shiraz
    Australia
    349
  12. SC Pannell Basso Garnacha 2019
    SC Pannell Basso Garnacha 2019
    Hand harvested, with largely free-run juice fermented cool in tank, before a brief raising in 4600L French vats, for 9 months. Kirsch, violet, bergamot and lavender. A slurry of fibrous herbal tannin, keeping a round juicy palate in check. Fun drinking. NED GOODWIN, James Halliday

    Lifted nose of tinned strawberry, roses and cranberry. Grippy palate with finely tuned tannins, sweet wild strawberry and a nice crunchy florality on the finish. ALISTAIR COOPER MW, jancisrobinson.com
    2019
    Grenache
    Australia
    436
  13. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2018
    Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2018

    I'm always amazed at the quality this estate gets in the Côtes du Rhône, especially at the quantities produced. Their 2018 Côtes Du Rhône is well worth seeking out and has a medium-bodied, round, silky style as well as textbook peppery herbs, violets, bouquet garni, and both red and black fruits. It shows the supple, charming, forward style of the vintage and is ideal for drinking over the coming 4-5 years. JEB DUNNUCK

    Looking more complex and complete than the 2017 at this point, the 2018 Cotes du Rhone still has a year or so of élevage ahead of it. It has a slightly herbal, briary note, dark berry fruit and hints of mocha on the full-bodied palate. Round and fleshy, it finishes smooth and velvety. WINE ADVOCATE

    2018
    Rhone Blend
    France
    467
  14. Head Wines Head Red Grenache 2021
    Head Wines Head Red Grenache 2021

    A new wine for Head, and not a GSM, but does include 5% M. Sourced from two vineyards that are both over 50 years old.

    Bright and crunchy style. Raspberry, raspberry frog, a bit of spice, dried herb, roses and leaf. Medium-bodied, plenty of raspberry juiciness, light emery tannin, discreet earthiness and a fresh but jubey finish of moderate length. It can be enjoyed young, though I think it will be better with another year or so in bottle. Charming. GARY WALSH, The Wine Front

    2021
    Grenache
    Australia
    349
  15. Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2019
    Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2019
    60% Grenache 40% Syrah

    To put it plainly this is delicious! Everything you want in a Cote Du Rhone. Based in the Northern Rhone town of Tain Hermitage Jaboulet has transformed this cuvee over the past five years. Total production is about a third of what it used to be, and the focus is very much on quality. Bright fresh with a generous juicy Grenache mouth feel but enough stuffing and spice to keep it lively and mouth watering delicious. A great value wine that has potential to improve over the next three to five years. ALEX WILCOX
    2016
    GSM
    France
    467
    Special Price $28.00 Regular Price $33.00 As low as $23.00
  16. Aphelion Welkin Grenache 2021
    Aphelion Welkin Grenache 2021

    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
  17. Inkwell High Violet Grenache Mataro 2021
    Inkwell High Violet Grenache Mataro 2021
    Dudley Brown and Irina Santiago are both mid-life converts to winegrowing and winemaking in Australia. Originally from the USA and Brazil respectively they are fanatical about our their vines and their wines. All organic, hand-picked and with as little manipulations and zero additions.

    This is a cracking little wine that combines freshness and pure fruit in a subtly complex and oh-so-smashable package. You have all that pretty red fruited grenache leaping out of the glass with red cherry, raspberry freshly picked and crushed with peppercorn spice. A touch licorice and earthy, bracken, herbs just peaks in here and there. Its tight and focused on the palate but doesn't feel like its being forced, and is just bursting with fresh fruits.
    2011
    Grenache, Mourvedre, tempranillo
    Australia
    349
  18. Hither & Yon Tempranillo 2021
    Hither & Yon Tempranillo 2021

    An everyday quaff, suggesting that handling of this early ripening variety is getting better. Bing cherry, iodine, lilac and lavender. The tension is serviced by reduction as much as a verdant lilt and vanillin streak of gentle tannins. NED GOODWIN, James Halliday

    A mid-weight red that has good purtity of blueberry and cherry fruit with a faint floral and white-pepper edge. Holds a sleek and succelent stance in the mouth and delivers a vividly fresh squeeze of tannin through the finish. Drink over the next 3 years. Screw cap. NICK STOCK, James Suckling

    Richard and Malcolm Leask started what they call their "bottle project" in 2011 and which now has grown into a stonking, not-so-little wine brand out of the Mclaren Vale. They make a compliment of classic Mcclaren fair along with some brilliant "alt" varietals from Spain, Portugal and Italy. Pure and full of vitality there whole range is fantastic but the temp was one of our favourites.

    2021
    tempranillo
    Australia
    436
  19. Schwarz Grower Shiraz 2020
    Schwarz Grower Shiraz 2020
    Schwarz Wine Co has for some time been at the forefront of contemporary Barossa winemaking, crafting site and vintage transparent wines of perfume, structure, and finely etched detail. The family vineyards provide the backbone of the label, though Jason Schwarz's relationships with talented growers are paramount to an enviable cache of old vine fruit sources. Touch the fruit lightly, don't pick too late, keep oak use in check - the house style here is pure, vibrant and we love it!

    A fresh and perfumed nose, violets the leading impression over musk and blue fruit.  The palate is rounded with great shape and feel in the mouth, and while the acid profile adds freshness and a precision to the flavours, the wine is by no means austere or lacking generosity.  Flavour-wise it's pretty classic Barossa Shiraz, full of black fruits, dried herbs and earth.  Works as a young drinker or will certainly reward a few years down.
    2018
    shiraz
    Australia
    349
  20. 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
  21. The Other Wine Co Grenache 2020
    The Other Wine Co Grenache 2020
    The other side of Shaw + Smith, exploring regions and varieties beyond their Adelaide Hills remit. Three Blewitt Springs vineyards contribute different elements to this thoroughly modern grenache. Each parcel was fermented separately, with 10% whole bunches in each. Matured for just 7 months in a range of relatively neutral vessels. Initial earthy, almost ironwork-like notes and bush herbals lead into a juicy style, a little ripper. It's fresh and vibrant, but then gathers an encouraging mouthfeel with powdery, earthy tannins. Very likeable. TONY LOVE, James Halliday

    The Other Wine Co is Shaw + Smith's free-spirited  brainchild. The venture allows the creative team to express their experimental side giving them the freedom to source fruit grown wherever and then play with different techniques to coax the best result out of any given variety. This is old vine fruit from sandy soils and naturally low yields. It's incredible to think all the work that goes into this wine along with hand-picking and incredibly thoughtfull winemaking. What a ripper!
    2020
    Grenache
    Australia
    349
  22. 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
  23. Aphelion Welkin Grenache 2021
    Aphelion Welkin Grenache 2021
    This is another contemporary rendition of a regional beacon. Made to a price across diverse sourcing, some whole bunches and a myriad of large-format wood vessels. But no less fidelitous to place, nor scrumptious and delicious, because of it. Just-ripe strawberry, white pepper, bergamot and a thyme-clad skirt of tannin, frisky and easy, but tactile enough to impart savouriness. Drink this cool as a more versatile option to a rosé. It will parry with anything on the table. NED GOODWIN, James Halliday
    2020
    Grenache
    Australia
    436
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