Australia stretches further across than London to Moscow. In such a big country, every wine region has it’s own personality. Lauren, Manager at Majestic Market Harborough, gives us an insight into the main wine growing regions in South Australia…
I’ve always been a big fan of Australian wine, and the more I’ve been lucky enough to try, the more I appreciate the diversity and quality of wines produced in this fascinating country. Nowhere demonstrates this more than my favourite region, South Australia. Comprised of a wealth of interesting sub-regions, each produces their own signature style of wine that reflects and honours the varied terroir.
One of the coolest regions in South Australia where the Mediterranean climate is tempered by the high altitude, this, along with the cool night time temperatures, helps to concentrate the varietal flavours and preserve the naturally high acidity. The region is noted for its Sauvignon Blanc, and is also cool enough to produce some fine bottle fermented sparkling wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Winemakers have also experimented with aromatic varieties with notable success. My favourites are: The Shortlist Chardonnay 2010, McGuigan and the Nepenthe ‘Charleston Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2008.
Although adjoining Barossa Valley, the soil is rockier and more acidic and the climate is cooler and wetter than its illustrious neighbour. The summers, however, are warm and very dry. This region is particularly noted for its Riesling, although Shiraz thrives at lower altitudes. My favourites are: The Shortlist Riesling and the gorgeous Heggies Chardonnay 2009. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwFsQI_YKu0&feature=player_embedded=0&w=580]
The most Northerly vinegrowing district in South Australia, the higher altitude and more extreme climate (warm summer days and cool nights) helps to concentrate the fruit characteristics and preserves acidity. Although it has a low average rainfall, many vineyards do not irrigate. Riesling is the most important variety here and shows a classic Australian character which can be austere in youth, but becomes toasty with many years bottle age. This area also produces world class Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The pick of the bunch are: The Knappstein Hand Picked Riesling 2010 and The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2009, Jim Barry.
The oldest and most important of South Australia’s varietal areas. It has a hot, dry climate with vines mostly grown on the flatlands (240-300m), although there is an increasing trend towards higher altitude plantings which take advantge of the cooling ocean breeze. Irrigation is often needed but strictly regulated. As a region it is phlloxera free and boasts ungrafted, dry-grown vines (Shiraz, Grenahce and Mouvedre) over 150 years old, therefore making it an important heritage site. As a region it is most famous for its super-ripe Shiraz, although it also produces notable white wines from Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. My favourites again are: The Shortlist Shiraz 2009, Mcguigan and Yalumba Bush Vine Grenache 2008.
One of Australia’s most diverse winegrowing regions, with around 80 wineries producing a wide array of styles. It boasts ideal meteorological conditions for growing vines, a long warm growing season and good air drainage to prevent air frosts. The proxomity of the ocean provides a cooling influence which helps to retain acidity. With around 22in of rain annually and a range of soil, including sand, sandy loam, limestone and red clay, there is the potential for great diversity. Big reds, such as Cabernet and Shiraz feature, as do European varietals such as Sangiovese and Primitivo. Increasingly, high quality whites and dessert wines are becoming popular. My picks are: The Kangarilla Road Chardonnay 2010 and The Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier 2008, d’Arenberg.
This is the most Southerly region of South Australia, renowned for its Terra Rossa soil which produces premium quality Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a Mediterranean cliamte which benefits from a cooling maritime influence from the Southern ocean, making it ideally suited to viticulture. It is the coolest region, similar in many ways to Bordeaux, for example, frosts can be a hazard in the spring and rain at harvest time. The Terra Rossa is interspersed with so-called black soil, however the black soil is not so highly regarded, despite sharing the same limestone subsoil. My final Aussie favourites are: The Petaluma Red and The Shortlist Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, McGuigan.