Michael Sinclair bangs the drum for Australia’s most recognised wine region.
Word on the street is the Barossa has got its groove back. Currently the region is the poster boy of South Australian Tourism with cinema advertising, TV commercials, newspaper lift-outs and online marketing targeting the young and the restless.
Unless you live under a rock, you would have seen the ‘Barossa. Be Consumed‘, campaign, which certainly provides a hip and happening edge to Australia’s most historic wine region.
The clip won World’s Best Commercial at Cannes in 2013 but rest assured, there’s more to the Barossa than sultry young women licking cheese off their fingers and writhing in the vineyards.
First and foremost, there is Shiraz.
Barossa Shiraz is a one-two combination that packs plenty of punch. Traditionally known to be big and bold, there is also a more sensual side to the region’s best known variety. Barossa Shiraz can also be Nigella-like in appearance. Voluptuous, sensual, curvy and soft. In a word: just plain sexy. Think of Nigella squishing ripe plums, blackberries and blueberries with her dexterous fingers and you can smell Barossa Shiraz.
So why is the Barossa and Shiraz such a perfect match?
Firstly, the Barossa generally enjoys good winter rainfalls and long, dry, warm summers, so the vineyards produce ripe fruit with intense flavours. Throw in mature vines and it’s easy to see why there is such fruit concentration and flavour. To take it one step further, old, dry-grown vineyards turn the volume up to 11.
For some, there was a concern that this concentration of flavour and high alcohol was turning the wick up too far, but the trend of ‘bigger is better’ for Barossa Shiraz seems to be a thing of the past. Thankfully the pendulum has swung back to the middle ground where balance is the focus.
Barossa Grenache and Mourvèdre
Shiraz aside, there’s more to the Barossa when you look behind the curtains. Other stalwart red varieties include Grenache and Mourvèdre (or Mataro as the local’s call it). Grenache, which is often referred to as warm climate Pinot Noir, delivers beautifully red-fruited characters of Christmas cherries and raspberries, with floral aromatics, plus musk and spice.
Mourvèdre sits at the other end of the scale with black fruits, intense colour, texture and tannin. Both varieties work well on their own in the Barossa but they really come to the fore when blended with Shiraz to form GSM blends. As a trio, each component combines to create a more complex beast. Cinsault and Carignan in the Barossa are also making a comeback as additional components to traditional GSM blends.
Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon
Of all the Barossa’s red varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon is the dark horse that probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves. If cool climate Cabernet sits on the left of the spectrum due to some green influence, then Barossa Cabernet is a right wing blue blooded thoroughbred – rich, ripe and broad shouldered, while still retaining varietal character.
Cabernet can definitely stand on its own two feet as a single variety in the Barossa but it also makes a great blending partner with Shiraz to produce the true Aussie red blend.
The Barossa can also punch out brilliant white wines. The Barossa’s high altitude sub-region; Eden Valley, is best known for its Riesling, which produces the most beautiful floral and citrus nuanced wines going around. White jasmine mingles with lemon blossom and fresh lime, while the palate has the most beautiful zippy acidity that is both mouth-filling and cleansing at the same time. Perfect to drink by itself on a lazy afternoon, Riesling is also the perfect seafood wine, particularly with fresh oysters, prawns or blue swimmer crabs. The locals guzzle it with aplomb, preferably with yabbies caught from their neighbours’ dams.
Barossa Semillon is a traditional variety that provides plenty of waxy texture and zippy lemon acidity, while providing a bit more body and approachability compared to its Hunter Valley cousins.
And then there are the (relative) newcomers to the Barossa: Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier – the traditional white varieties of France’s Rhone Valley. Thanks to their ability to cope with warm temperatures, this trio is starting to make its presence felt for those looking for a little white in their life.
A brief history
Located an hours drive north of Adelaide, the Barossa was settled by Silesians (which is now a part of Poland), which explains its strong Lutheran heritage. A lot of their traditions can still be seen today with the region’s array of wursts, smoked meats and preserves. With Phylloxera wiping out many of Europe’s vineyards, the Barossa can lay claim to having some of the oldest vines in the world.
‘Barossa. Be Consumed.’
Checkout the ‘Barossa. Be Consumed.’ video here…
Scenes from the ‘Barossa. Be Consumed’ campaign. There’s more to the Barossa than seductive women eating cheese and writhing in the dirt. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.