If Australia has a regional wine story that has resonance around the world then it is surely the story of Barossa.
Most international wine regions can claim a fine wine story of excellence in one particular variety, style or expression. Few regions, however, can claim to be as synonymous with a country’s reputation for international wine acclaim as Barossa, renowned as it is for a portfolio of varieties, blends, estates, single-vineyards and flagship releases.
The story of Barossa Shiraz is a lineage that started in the 19th century with “claret” and “hermitage”, but found its modern expression with Penfolds Grange in 1951. Since then the region has spawned dozens of exemplary Shiraz – Henschke Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone, St Hallett Old Block, Rockford Basket Press, Grant Burge Meshach, Peter Lehmann Stonewell and Torbreck The Laird, to acknowledge a few of the most collectable brands. *See Barossa Shiraz
Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon
Penfolds 1888 Block 42 near Kalimna is one of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon plantings in Australia and still consistently contributes to Penfolds’ flagship wines. But there are others – Elderton’s Ashmead Single Vineyard Cabernet has been a Jimmy Watson winner and Seppelt Dorrien Cabernet sourced from an old vineyard at the epicenter of the Barossa Valley floor, was one of the icons of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Eden Valley Riesling
The story is not just about red, however. Eden Valley Riesling is a style and achievement of equal endeavour, with a distinct signature of lime, apple, talc and slatey-mineral purity that often can be just emerging at 10 years of bottle age. Peter Lehmann’s Reserve Rieslings of the 1990s (particularly the 1993 and 1996) are legendary having won every wine show in Australia multiple times. Re-badged in 2003 as the Wigan (honouring winemaker Andrew Wigan) it has been named ‘Best Riesling in the World’ in the International Wine and Spirit Competition six times in the past decade, and accumulated more than 80 trophies.
If there is a single, literal monument to Barossa’s ability to demonstrate fine wine heritage, it must surely be the Camelot-like presence of Seppeltsfield.
It is a unique estate that houses the world’s oldest, unbroken line of fortified wines dating back to 1878, started by Oscar Benno Seppelt when he reserved a single barrel of what was then called tawny port. A century and a half and more than 130 individually dated annual barrels later, Seppeltsfield now provides visitors with a chance to taste their birth year and enjoy wines that are still made using the gravity fed ‘lagars’.