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Feb 9, 2019

Barossa is one of the most historic, fascinating places in the new world. Winemaking started with German immigrants in 1840 and there have been ups and downs in the industry since. What hasn’t changed: there has always been a small cadre of winemakers here that have made outstanding fascinating Shiraz and Riesling. We dig into the history of the region, talk about its wines and give you another region in Australia to seek out.  


We start with an overview of the Barossa:

  • 56 km/35 miles northeast of Adelaide, 34°S
  • Winemaking began in 1842
  • 550 grape growing families, many with 6thgeneration still working the land
  • Dominated by valley floors and rolling hills, with high altitudes (good for grapes)
  • The Barossa Zone is made up of the Barossa Valley and Eden Valleys, warm and cool climate regions respectively
  • Known for: Barossa Shiraz and Eden Valley Riesling
  • Others: Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro, Grenache, Semillon and Fortified wines, plus GSM blends, bigger whites (Chardonnay, Sémillon, Viognier), Tempranillo and Zinfandel
    • OLD VINES: Many Shiraz vines in the Barossa Valley are several decades old, some 100+ years old
    • NO phylloxera (quarantine laws have helped) here ever so you can get old vines



Barossa ZONE

Zone = An area that usually comprises one or more regions.

  • Extremely variable landscape -- elevation, inland locations and the coastal influence – lots of mesoclimates
  • Valley floor is HOT – 95˚F/35˚C and dry, hillsides are cool with great diurnals
  • VERY dry so they irrigate, except old vine vineyards on the slightly cooler western side of the valley –dry farmed



Barossa Valley

  • Land:Flat and hilly -- microclimates
  • Climate: Mediterranean climate: cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers, drought is an issue
  • General style: Very ripe grapes with high alcohol, low acid, short maceration to keep tannins soft extensive oak – usually American with coconut/dill notes
  • Shiraz:black fruit, dried fruit (prune) and mocha aromas, tobacco and an earthiness, black pepper aromas. Medium tannin, high alcohol - 14%–15% ABV. Many old, low-yielding vines with great intensity of flavor, and are believed to be among the oldest producing vines in the world.
  • Henschke, Hill of Grace Shiraz, Eden Valley
  • Penfolds, Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley
  • Chateau Tanunda, 150 Year Old Vine Semillon, Barossa Valley
  • Elderton, Command Single Vineyard Shiraz, Barossa Valley
  • Turkey Flat, The Ancestor Shiraz, Barossa Valley
  • Other wines: GSM blends and Shiraz-Cabernet, Cabernet, oaky Chardonnay, Semillon


Eden Valley

  • Land: In the Barossa Ranges: Best sites on moderate slopes with good sun exposure 380 and 500 meters (1200 and 1640ft) high, MUCH cooler than Barossa Valley – longer growing season, more flavor development
  • Climate: Higher altitude: Eden Valley can be 5 – 7°C cooler than the Barossa Valley floor, slows ripening, more acidity. Fall rain and frosts are issues
  • Riesling is the big dog here: lime, apple and floral characters, along with refreshing acidity and minerality, developing more complex toasty notes with age. Can age them
  • Shiraz: Henschke's single vineyard Hill of Grace, Mount Edenstone


The Future: Studying terroir with Barossa Grounds Project:

  • Barossa Grape & Wine Association began in 2008 with annual wine tastings and descriptive analysis of 80 unoaked, single vineyard Shiraz
  • Alluvial sands and rich fertile black soils in Southern Barossa, to the infertile slopes overlaying the limestone and ancient sandstone and schist of Eden Valley – to the red clay loams of Northern Barossa – sparking other regions to do more research into land, a new chapter for Australia

Check out for more info! 


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