We had a feature article in the Adelaide Advertiser this week on our 2017 Vintage Festival Event. Have a read below!
The Barossa and Shiraz are inseparable partners – Australia’s most famous regional-varietal wine duet. Of course, this suggests that it’s a one-size-fits-all kind of deal; what you’ll get is a big-boned, rich, ripe, dark-fruited, full-bodied, warming, comforting red wine. That is all.
But no, it isn’t. The pairing is far more complicated than it first seems. In the 170 years that Shiraz has been growing there, all manner of differences, from vine age to micro-climate and vineyard aspect, make for infinite variations on the central theme.
The fruit from Keyneton will produce a whole other style of Shiraz compared to wine made from a vineyard in, say, the Gomersal district. Or Lyndoch. Or Seppeltsfield … and so on.
The 550 wine grape-growing families plus vignerons and winemakers of the Barossa are most conscious of these subregional variations, a Barossa Grape and Wine Association project having identified three main “grounds” – north, central and south – and more defined traditional districts or “parishes” now often noted on Barossa labels.
The most obvious differentiations occur between the higher altitude Eden Valley to the east and the Barossa Valley floor that lies west of the hills, hovering from Angaston south-west to Willamstown.
Eden Valley Shiraz tends to be more vibrant red, medium-to-full bodied, with aromatics in the mainly red and blue fruits, such as red and black cherry, raspberry, blueberry and plum, with violet, sage and pepper.
From the Valley floor the Shiraz generally will be more deep purple in colour, fuller bodied, opulent, rich and robust, with a blacker fruit spectrum, such as dark cherry, plum and blackberry characters plus the savoury elements of fruitcake, spice, licorice and chocolate.
These variations, due mainly to differences in altitude, climate and in particular temperatures, as well as soil vitality, will be put to the test in three Barossa Vintage Festival events from April 20-22. Thorn-Clarke Wines explores several wines in its portfolio from the two sub-regions. Rojomoma hosts an intimate lunch with its own wines and Eden Valley’s Flaxman Wines in a comparative look at the diverse styles. The BGWA also is hosting an all-day Barossa Grounds Tour through the region.
At Thorn-Clarke’s cellar door in the Eden Valley, out of Angaston, the hill and gully view sets a mood to see the quite clear division in two Shiraz’s: the Eden Trail from the vineyard you can see and the William Randell, a blend of two Valley floor vineyards. Other single-vineyard barrel samples will highlight further diversities of style. The first is a rich, jubey, fresher fruited style with spicy tannins, while the second is a more traditional, big-shouldered and richer version of the variety, showing dark chocolate and a touch of jaffa, its oak and tannin elements softening. “When everyone thinks of the Barossa they think of massive tannins, rich, stewed characters, but the Eden Trail is more elegant, more vibrant and with fresher fruit,” says Thorn-Clarke’s Paul Judd.
In a totally different setting of Rojomoma’s small shed in the Ebenezer subdistrict, north of Nuriootpa, a sold-out lunch crowd will taste Eden Valley and Barossa floor wines beside a menu by Flaxman Wines’ Col Sheppard, a MasterChef top tenner. His Estate Shiraz will match up against Bernadette Kaeding and Sam Kurtz of Rojomoma’s Raj’s Pick Shiraz – both flagships, same variety but very different styles. The
Flaxman shiraz is complex, rich but not heavy, says Col. “That’s the big difference between the Eden Valley and the Barossa Valley; you can have every bit as much complexity and depth of flavour but you just don’t get that weight,” he says.
While each wine is similarly made, Bernadette notes the bigger and richer Barossa floor version, compared to the florals and spice of the Eden Valley style. “The difference in where they’re grown is the main thing that separates them,”she says.