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Barossa Valley: an important area for grapes

Taste the difference: Barossa Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

It is fair to say that Barossa Valley is to Australia what Napa Valley is to the United States of America; a most important and highly regarded area to grow wine grapes.

Barossa is tucked in the southern edge of the great Australian continent and out of a total area of 46,000 acres, just over 25,000 are planted to the vine.

Shiraz dominates and some of the oldest vines in the world are here, one vineyard that still produces grapes was planted in 1847. Cabernet sauvignon and grenache also do very well and capture the distinctive elegance, finesse and vibrancy of this special place.

If I mention the Delegat family of Auckland in New Zealand it may not ring any bells, but if I say that they own wine interests including Oyster Bay, I am sure that you will get the message.

In the summer of 2013, they wanted to add to their portfolio of high-quality wine assets and so they bought the Barossa Valley Estate with its 162 acres of land that included 90 of prime vineyards. Because of our close relationship with Oyster Bay, we have just added this Australian winery to our portfolio.

Wine Spectator rated the Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz 2013 a very credible 90/100, describing it thusly: “Berry and cherry flavours have an appealing tang, showing fresh herb accents of sage and rosemary, with a warm, toasty finish where the tannins add an appealing grip. Drink now through 2020. Smart buy.”

It is common in Australia to use American oak and because of its wide grain it tends to impart more vanilla, coconut and sweet spices. I would not say that French oak is better, but that it is different as its finer grains result in more subtle flavours and firmer, but silkier tannins.

This Barossa Estate chooses medium-toasted French barrels. Please remember that the winemaker decides on the degree of char, or burn, on the inside of the barrels as they have to be heated to bend the wood. Light, medium or heavy toast substantially affects the overall character of the wine.

If you are not sure how to pronounce grenache or shiraz or mourvedre, then do what most folks do when asking for this very popular blend and just call it GSM. We will know that you wish to buy Barossa Valley Estate Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre 2013.

I do not have reviews yet on the 2013, but the 2012 received 93/100, 92/100 and 91/100 from well-known wine critics and blue gold in Sydney.

When one lists the grape varieties in a wine they normally go in order of their importance in the blend, for instance in this case 45 per cent is grenache, 41 per cent shiraz and 14 per cent mourvedre.

All three are considered “Rhone varietals” and usually all three are found in Châteauneuf du Pape, which is certainly one of the best known Rhone wines.

Barossa Valley Estate GSM 2013 is a wine in which you may detect violets, sweet bramble, cherry, plum, grippy tannins, spices, toast, cedar, cocoa, smoke, blueberry, pepper aromas, intoxicating aromas, stewed red and black fruits, granite and mint.

Well, these are all compiled from various reviews. I would sum it all up by saying balanced, delicious with a velvety texture and just waiting for a steak.

Barossa Valley Estate 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is a good example of why I mention this valley and the one called Napa in the first paragraph, as both are warm and this is what this classic grape really thrives in.

If the weather is too cool then cabernet sauvignon can exhibit hints of green bell pepper and this I do my best to avoid like the plague in any of our wines as I am not a fan of this at all.

If there is too much heat then we can get stewed fruit, which is also not enjoyable.

2013 worked out well in this valley and, as one would hope for, we have cassis, blackberry and a touch of eucalyptus. Beef or lamb would calm the tannins.

Do you remember my tea and milk story? Well, let me repeat anyway. Red wines and tea both have tannins and I add a touch of milk to my morning brew as it actually chemically encapsulates the tannins and softens them in the mouth.

Think about it, where do milk and beef come from? The animal says “moo” and, in fact, both foods have similar compounds in them. A beefsteak with rich red wine acts just like milk in my tea, if you get my drift.

All three wines mentioned sell for $26.35.

This column is a paid-for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm