Cabernet Shiraz blends have not been the flavour of the month, the year, or even the past decade, but they are the backbone of the traditional Australian dry red.
Alex Head has gone into his Tardis and come up with a homely wine, at a crazy good price, full of rich dark fruit, baked earth characters, with a dense chunky mouthfeel and satisfying savoury rustic finish.
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- Fruit Cake
- Red Meat
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Australia's wine industry is a thriving part of the country's economy, contributing significantly to employment, production, export, and tourism. In fact, the industry is the fourth-largest wine exporter in the world, shipping out 760 million liters of wine to countries including France, Italy, Spain, and the UK. One of the key factors contributing to Australia's success as a "New World" wine producer is the formal export and marketing of its wines through Wine Australia.
Australia's wine regions are scattered across the south and southeast, with almost every state boasting its own vineyards. Victoria, for example, is home to an impressive 21 wine regions. Some of the most famous wine regions in Australia include Margaret River, Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Eden Valley, Clare Valley, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley, and local regions to New South Wales such as Cowra, Southern Highlands, and Mudgee.
Australian winemakers are known for producing a diverse range of grape varieties, with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir being among the most popular. They tend to focus on producing wines that are ripe, fruit-forward, and easy to drink, using modern winemaking techniques and equipment such as stainless steel tanks and temperature-controlled fermentation.
With its bold, fruit-driven flavors and reputation for quality and diversity, Australian wine has become a popular choice for wine lovers around the world. And with such a broad range of wine regions and grape varieties, there's something for every palate to enjoy.
If you like Australian wine, then you probably like South Australia wine. The rich reds produced there put Australia on the wine-making map of the world. With over 40% of the country's vineyards, South Australia can rightfully call itself the wine state.
Wines are produced in several regions throughout the state, though many are naturally grouped together, like Barossa and Eden Valleys, only 15 minutes apart. They include such regions as Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Kangaroo Island, Langhorne Creek, The Limestone Coast, McLaren Vale and Wrattonbully to name but a few!
Barossa Valley boasts some of the oldest vines in Australia dating back to 1843 and produces some of the world's finest Shiraz, whilst the 'terra rossa' soils of Coonawarra is most suited to producing outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons. If you're a fan of Riesling, Clare Valley is a great place to explore and for a Maritime climate not dissimilar to parts of the Italian coastline, seek out the wines from McLaren Vale.
The Barossa Valley is about an hour and a half drive to the North of Adelaide, in South Australia and is the oldest wine region in the country, founded by German settlers. The region can be credited with putting Australian wine on the world wine map, thanks to Shiraz, which thrives in the warm climate (though Hunter Valley Semillon also contributed.)
For many years traditionalist wine makers thought the grape variety was best suited to the cooler climates of the Rhone Valley and that the variety would cook in the warmth of the Australian sun. Although South Australian Shiraz is a bigger, beefier wine than its southern French counterpart Syrah, no one can deny the region's propensity to produce world-class wines.
Not only Shiraz is cultivated in Barossa Valley, with other red varieties such as Grenache, Mourvedre (Mataro) and to a lesser extent Cabernet Sauvignon. The white varieties that thrive best seem to be Semillon, Chardonnay and Rhone varietals like viognier, Marsanne and Roussane.
The Valley has many subregions which all have unique terroirs. Seppeltsfield, Marananga, Greenock are to name but a few. With a huge number of wineries in such a small area and a host of accommodation, the region is very popular for wine tourism. In the words of Master of Wine Jancis Robinson, the Barossa Valley became "Australia's quintessential wine region."
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About the brand Head Wines
Alex Head calls the Barossa Valley home but he will always feel equally at home in France’s Northern Rhone Valley. His affinity with Old World wines led him to Côte Rotie, or roasted slope, where the story is that in the Middle Ages one 'Count Maugiron' owned the steeply terraced hills of Côte Rotie. The Count had two daughters, one a blonde and the other a brunette and in time he realised that wine from the Southern slope of the Cote showed colour and character of his blonde daughter, while the Northern his brunette daughter. When Count Maugiron finally retired he passed on the two Côtes to his daughters and to this day, they are still referred to as the ' Côte Blonde' and 'Côte Brune'.
Inspired, Alex set out to find vineyard sites for Head Wines where, similar to Côte Rotie, the soils produce contrasting styles of Shiraz resulting in The Blonde, a Shiraz grown on sandy loam in Stonewell and The Brunette, from a high elevation vineyard in Moppa. The rest of the portfolio showcases single site Rhone varietals with the hallmarks of elegance, freshness, balance and purity of fruit.