What do we really know about the wine regions of Australia? We’ve all heard the whispers in recent decades of their gorgeous wines and of course, sampled some of the viticultural beauties this country produces. But what do we truly know about the regions themselves?
Let’s start with South Australia, specifically the Barossa Valley.
The area is located about 37 miles (or 60 kilometers) northeast of Adelaide city center and the valley itself is created by the North Para River. Its name comes from the Barrosa Range, where Colonel William Light back fought in the Battle of Barrosa in 1811. He made a slight clerical error when transcribing the name, and it has since been Barossa. In the 1960s, wine consumption in Australia was still low (only about two bottles per person) however, winemakers in this region were embarking on new, high altitude innovative wines, experimenting with chemicals and process for wine quality control.
Family-run wineries had a hard time keeping up with this trend and were bought up by the large grocery corporations that were running the show during the 1970s in Australia. It was then that the South Australian government announced the “Vine Pull Scheme,” intending to remove unproductive vines but instead removed 100-year old Shiraz and Grenache vines that were the literal root of the industry. The multi-national companies were no longer interested, leaving room for the small entrepreneurial wineries to take back over, reviving the region to what it is today.
Although this small region is only about 8 miles wide, it is now home to over 500 grape-growing families and has been a major part of Australia’s wine industry for almost the entirety of its life.
Shiraz is by far, the best and most popular wine to come out of the Barossa Valley, encompassing over 7,000 hectares (17,500 acres) of this South Australian region. The typical Shiraz from this region is powerful and bold, with big flavors of red fruits and aromatic notes of earth and pepper. Other deep reds like Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache do very well here, and although whites are grown such as Riesling and Chardonnay, none come close to the Shiraz. Because of that rough patch in the 80s where many of its oldest vines were removed, a vintage Shiraz is one of the most treasured prizes to come out of Australia.
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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