Jay S Miller - 31/10/2007
About this WINE
Giaconda is one of Australia’s most famous names. The Beechworth winery was established by Rick Kinzbrunner in 1982. A mechanical engineer by training, he became interested in wine in the early 1970s and spent the next 10 years traveling to wine-growing regions to learn as much as possible.
Rick was the first to establish a vineyard of any consequence in Beechworth when he first planted in 1982, but today there are over 30 based in the area. This little-known inland region is in north-eastern Victoria, in the foothills and within sight of the Victorian Alps, approximately midway between Melbourne and Sydney.
Giaconda is best known for its Chardonnay, but also produces Shiraz and Pinot Noir. The wines here are hand-crafted by Rick and his son Nathan, who do everything themselves and only take on help at harvest. Some of the most desirable wines in Australia, and indeed the world, Giaconda’s wines are in regrettably short supply, as they only produce 30 to 40,000 bottles a year.
The Beechworth wine region lies at the foothills of an ancient volcano, on mineral-rich soils, overlaid with granite boulders and outcrops. This Victorian Alps outpost. specialises in the cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varieties.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.