Rich, concentrated and balanced reds
Yes it is the style that Australia is famed for and yes there are many other styles that Australia has to offer, but that doesn’t mean that the robust, full bodied red is not still a crucial part of the Aussie wine market, helping to form an international reputation, not to mention offering some mind blowing wines.
Shiraz is the darling grape of this style usually on its own as a single variety but can also be blended with various other grapes, commonly Grenache and Mourvedre, the most famous examples come from the warm, dry Barossa Valley, home to some of the world’s oldest vines. The Barossa style of Shiraz is rich, plummy and chocolatey with a velvet texture from ancient vines grown on the sun-baked plains. The Barossa Ranges is a sub-region of Barossa that is capable of producing very rich and intense wines due to its unique soils and climate, Hobbs Of Barossa Ranges being a leading producer from here. For classic examples of rich, Barossa Valley wines try Torbreck, Hentley Farm, Standish or Glaetzer, Torbreck also producing some great examples of blended wines.
For something full and concentrated but not quite as rich as the Barossa Valley wines try Eden Valley. Part of the Barossa region but of an overall higher altitude than the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley has slightly cooler temperatures allowing Cabernet Sauvignon to play a role as well as Shiraz producing structured, dense wines that are sometimes blended with Barossa fruit. Henchke and Two Hands produce outstanding wines from the Eden Valley.
Remaining in South Australia over to the coast is Mclaren Vale. One of the earliest wine producing regions in Australia, Mclaren Vale Shiraz offers a similar style to Barossa but showing brighter fruit with a little more finesse due to coastal breezes. Highlights from Mclaren Vale are the Shiraz from one of the regions oldest producers Kay Brothers, or try Clarendon Hills Shiraz from various sub-regions of Mclaren Vale.
Head east to Heathcote in Victoria which follows the powerful style of Shiraz, characterised by very dark fruit almost inky black in youth with mouth-coating intensity. A warm, Mediterranean climate Heathcote is capable of producing bold, long-lived wines with rich fruit. The region can reach high temperatures that can sometimes result in a slightly baked character to the wines, but the cooling winds channelled through the valleys of the Camel Ranges help to temper this slightly. Leading the way in bringing Heathcote to the world’s stage is cult producer Wild Duck Creek. Their wines are dark, rich and powerful, from both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Outside of Australia you can find deep and concentrated reds from the USA, most notably the Napa Valley in California where Cabernet Sauvignons reign supreme either on its own or as part of a Bordeaux style blend. California wines can be powerful indeed with notable blackcurrant and plum fruit, also with cocoa and some herbal notes. This style can also be found in Washington where both Cabernet's and Syrahs produce dark, dense wines. The slightly cooler temperatures mean that Washington wines tend to be very well structured as well as showing distinct, herbal aromas, graphite and black fruits.
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