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Oh how the Barossa shines 

If you've ever been to Switzerland, you quickly realise why they make such good chocolate (and cheese). It's the cows! Every cow I saw in Switzerland was walking around with this nearly perceivable grin. Beautiful countryside, clean fresh air, the greenest grass you've ever seen and no threat of the butchers knife.... we hence dubbed them "Happy Cows". Well, if ever there was a parallel in wine, it must be the grape vines of the Barossa. This beautiful alluvial valley is home to some of the oldest vines on the planet. As the sun slowly sinks behind the western range, washing the valley with a warm autumn glow, I'm left with no doubt as to why. For a grape vine, this place rocks!

One of the amazing things about the Barossa is the accessibility to old vine material. Whilst old vines are not the 'be all and end all' they certainly help.  This is none more evident in the much loved but often maligned grenache grape. I simply LOVE grenache, the elegance, spice and mid weight style can be almost pinot noir like (an example below). And as the vine ages, it sinks deeper roots and becomes less vigorous; producing smaller yields with more inherent complexity. Now when great Grenache is combined with the super sexy Barossa shiraz and the serious and structured mourvedre, you have a match that is more than the sum of it's parts. Below are some of my top picks from a recent trip to the valley. These are dangerously impressive wines.... so please support the small producers we love and grab some for yourself.


Head Red GSM ($25)

A great place to start with any exploration of grenache is with the traditional Rhone (France) blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Mouvedre. The Head Red GSM is a perennial overachiever bringing pleasure and pure drinkability at a drop dead gorgeous price. This is a sleek, silky and medium bodied wine showing lots of grenachey goodness; raspberry, spice, musk sticks and sweet herbs. It's a serious wine really.... seriously delicious!

Head Red Shiraz 2015 ($25)

Old vines, expert handling and a 'new order' approach means that this fits the 'generous Barossa shiraz' mould but with more restraint and definition. I like my Barossa wines to still have a good backbone else they can err to the flabby, porty and pruney side. Alex Head treads the line perfectly with his more gentle approach to Barossa Shiraz, bringing out depth and complexity but retaining freshness and acidity.

The Contrarian 2015 ($35)

Breaking all the established rules of the Barossa, one of my personal favourites for it's spice and lift.

The Blonde 2015 ($55)

Silky smooth, chocolate and fine tannin. A standout Barossa Shiraz for the purist.

Shop all Head Wines

Schwarz Meta Grenache 2016 ($35)

This wine really hit me for 6 when I tasted it last month in the Barossa. It's far and away the most memorable wine of my 10 days talking, sipping and exploring.... and that's really saying something given the wines I tried. This is a 'pinot like' grenache if ever there was one. Close your eyes and you can see yourself deep down in the roots of the old vine pulling up all of this glorious complexity and minerality. It is unashamedly a textural, whole bunch and very funky number. It has a real appeal with food and will support any number of dishes from mid weight red meat dishes all the way down to pork and duck..... even a more full flavoured fish dish.

I absolutely love this wine and if you are a pinot person, please, please, please, grab a few of these, you'll thank me later. Sensational stuff.

Schwarz Mixed 6 ($186)
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Mixed 6 includes:

  • 2 x Shiraz
  • 2 x GSM
  • 2 x Grenache

Hentley Farm The Rouge 2015 ($24.50)

The Rouge is a 'field blend' meaning that what you get in the wine is quite simply what's out in the field the grapes come from. This results in a single vinification (batch) rather than seperate batches being made and the blend compiled at a later date (common). The Rouge is a grenache based wine with quantities of mourvedre, shiraz, zinfandel and cabernet. I quite simply couldn't keep my hands off. Tasted it twice and walked out with a bottle for drinking that night and a bottle of its big brother (below) for the cellar.

Hentley Farm The Stray Mongrel 2015 ($28.50)

The "Stray Mongrel" refers to the quite unusual third wheel of this blend; Zinfandel (which replaces the more traditional mourvedre). The reason why, is that the Hently Farm Estate has no mourvedre and the zinfandel is actually one of their specialities. A wine of complexity and age worthiness.

Hently Farm Mixed 6 ($155)
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Thanks for reading and on a closing note, I'd just like to share some feedback from one of our customers. Scott Jendra sent me a text in response to my last feature on the Best's Bin 1 Shiraz 2015 and I thought it was ace:
"... I continued the Best's Bin 1 vs Ravensworth taste off. Left the two bottles opened for a week, both were still amazing, perfumed and delicious. There has only been a few bottles ever that I could say leaving them open a week didn't impact them one bit. Last time that happened was the Voyager Cab Merlot. A long life ahead of them both.... if I can keep my hands off them"

Cheers all, enjoy your weekend and catch you next week.



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