Experience the Barossa’s Best Wineries and Drops

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Jul 17, 2017

by PETER BOURNE, Writer

Taste the wine and check out the cellar doors in South Australia’s Barossa wine region.

The Barossa has it all – a pioneering history, produce-driven food and highly acclaimed wines. First settled in the 1840s by forward-thinking German Lutherans fleeing religious persecution, the Barossa is justly famous for its shiraz. This is thanks to two very special wines: Henschke Hill of Grace and Penfolds Grange.

Of course, the Barossa’s temperate climate suits shiraz, with bold, potent styles from the valley floor and spicy, savoury drops from nearby Eden Valley, where some vineyards sit above 500 metres. But cabernet sauvignon also shines at these cooler sites – and in cooler years, in the lower and warmer Barossa Valley. Shiraz’s Rhône partner, grenache, gets a look-in, too, while GSM blends (grenache/shiraz/mourvèdre) are enjoying a surge in popularity among wine growers.

It’s not all about red wines. Riesling and semillon are the region’s traditional white grapes, with recent plantings of Rhône white varieties such as viognier and marsanne showing well. 

Although the Barossa’s identity is defined by these historical varieties, it’s far from moribund. Fiano and vermentino are exciting new whites, while recent red varieties – nebbiolo, tempranillo and nero d’avola – are adding spice to the stalwarts.   

The Barossa’s big names – Yalumba, Peter Lehmann, St Hallett, Grant Burge, Torbreck and Seppeltsfield, along with the aforementioned Penfolds, Henschke and Jacob’s Creek – are internationally recognised but there are more than 80 cellar doors in and around the Barossa and many of them are small producers.

Add much-loved food legend Maggie Beer to the mix and you have a region that offers the lot. The Barossa’s German pioneers would be proud. 

Tasting notes

Kalleske Clarry’s GSM
2016, $23

Four generations have farmed these 19th-century vines. Named in honour of Troy Kalleske’s grandfather, it has raspberry and dark-cherry aromas lifted by fragrant spices. There are juicy flavours of red and black berries and earthy tannins to balance. Match it with a sausage sandwich and barbecue sauce. 

Barossa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
2015, $28

BVE’s shiraz is a Barossa benchmark, its sibling cabernet sauvignon inexcusably overlooked. A compote of blackberries and currants greets the nose with fleshy flavours of the same genre. The subtle cedary tannins would suit grilled lamb cutlets.

Henschke Keyneton Euphonium
2013, $66

The Henschkes craft magnificent reds and this bespoke blend is a cornerstone. Shiraz, merlot and cabernet (sauvignon and franc) deliver intense black-fruit, clove, pepper and sandalwood aromas. It’s dense and fleshy, with a backbone of graphite-like tannins – perfect with a thick, juicy steak.

Penfolds St Henri Shiraz
2013, $109

New oak is eschewed in favour of large, old vats with this “old-school” Penfolds shiraz, which smells of abundant red and black fruit, licorice and dried herbs. It’s dense and intense with dark-fruit flavours and insistent tannins to carry the finish. Roast beef and horseradish cream, please.

Pewsey Vale The Contours Riesling
2011, $36

Sourced from the oldest vines at this 50-year-old vineyard, The Contours is only released after five years in the bottle. There are fragrances of fresh lemongrass, warm toast and lime marmalade. The palate has incredible drive with a bright, zesty finish. Partner with chicken tagine. 

Cellar doors

Artisans of Barossa

Short on time? You can taste a selection of wines from six small producers at this collaborative cellar door. Take home the Spinifex Rosé, John Duval Plexus SGM and Sons of Eden Marschall Shiraz.

Seppeltsfield

The magnificent Seppelt family winery and mausoleum has been revamped into the Barossa’s go-to venue. Take home the Para Rare Tawny.

Charles Melton Wines

Charlie takes a highly individual approach to winemaking. Expect a warm welcome here. Luxury accommodation in the 1864 church is also on offer. Take home the Nine Popes GSM.

St Hallett Wines

While fortifieds were the Barossa’s past, the future is subregional shiraz. Try both at this renowned cellar door. Take home the Old Block Shiraz.

Tscharke

Ever tried savagnin? How about touriga? Damien Tscharke’s enthusiasm for wine is contagious. Take home The Master Montepulciano. Go to tscharke.com.au

St Hugo

This architecturally splendid setting offers a 90-minute experience, which includes a tutored tasting in a private underground tasting room. Extend your stay with lunch at The Restaurant. Take home the Private Collection Rowland Flat Region Shiraz. Visit sthugo.com

SEE ALSO: How to Spend a Gourmet Weekend in the Barossa