Shiraz from the Barossa Valley is a constant dilemma for me.
Winemakers have two different ways to produce a wine;
1. You can source the fruit from different vineyards (as many as you want, to create the best blend possible.
For example, The Penfolds Grange comes from about 100 different vineyards, The D’Arenberg Dead Arm from about 30.
2. Or, you can produce your wine from a single vineyard.
I am not gonna say that the first solution is a cheat, even if it is sometimes… But when you have the possibility to source fruit from so many vineyards, of course we expect the winemaker to end up with something bloody good in the end.
The beauty about the concept is that, as weather conditions change every year, your blend is never the same, and you always have a different wine every vintage.
But I have to admit that, you need an awesome winemaker to understand all components and factors around the vineyards. I have seen it myself, with Chester Osborne from D’Arenberg.
I still prefer to try single vineyards wines, as I want to be able to make the link between the vine, the weather, the wind, the soil and what the winemaker is trying to achieve.
The downside of it is of course, if we have a bad vintage in general, there will be no wine produced on that year… Basically, you almost need a miracle every year to get something worth it in the end...
Alex Head found the solution, and does it very well vintage after vintage. He’s built over the years some great relationships with other winemakers from the Barossa and his Contrarian is simply stunning.
How to explain? It’s a single vineyard wine, always from a different vineyard. He will make the wine from where he believes is the best site to do shiraz on a particular vintage. For the 2016, grapes come from a single vineyard in Greenock that belongs to Shawn Kalleske.
Soils are made of ironstone and red clay over bluestone at 290m elevation on the western ridge of the Barossa Valley. The wine is complex, soft, juicy and really vibrant with strong notes of dark berries. Paired with our wood fired sticky beef ribs, it is just perfect! Braised and slow cooked for more than 6hrs, the meat just falls of the bone, and it comes with a thick homemade BBQ sauce, and our famous fat Chips!
Romain, Bastianel, Sommelier | Steamers Bar and Grill