About this WINE
Dean Hewitson must surely rank as one of the most talented winemakers of his generation. For twenty-five years Dean has learnt his trade via Roseworthy College, Petaluma, UC Davis University C.A., Oregon, France and Italy before setting up in his own right at the well-insulated Adelaide Milk Factory on London Road on April 11th 1998. His experience abroad taught Dean the value of old vine fruit, something he took to heart as he built a 30,000 case business on Barossa Shiraz, Grenache, Mourvedre as well as McLaren Vale Shiraz, Eden Valley Riesling and Victorian Viognier.
Ten years on sees Dean consolidating his success as he finally puts his roots down at No.1 Seppeltsfield Rd, Dorrien, in the heart of Barossa Valley. Building has begun on a new red wine cuverie while the estate's 50 year Semillon vines on the banks of the Para River have already been grafted over to Mourvedre. Dean has also recently purchased a forty-two year Grenache vineyard in the Barossa Valley and a Sauvignon Blanc site among the Adelaide Hills.
In the meantime Dean continues to source fruit from up and down the rich terra-rossa Barossa Valley, notably from the Old Garden Mourvedre bushvine site planted in 1853 and the Three Corner Grenache, Rawlands Flat vineyard dating back to 1890. He has made it his life's work to propogate the next generation of these fabulously old, living monuments by grafting their buds onto 30 yo rootstock. Dean uses opentop stainless-steel fermentors before careful lees elevage in french oak barrels.
Barossa Valley is the South Australia's wine industry's birthplace. Currently into its fifth generation, it dates back to 1839 when George Fife Angas’ South Australian Company purchased 28,000 acres at a £1 per acre and sold them onto landed gentry, mostly German Lutherans. The first vines were planted in 1843 in Bethany, and by the 1870s – with Europe ravaged by war and Phylloxera - Gladstone’s British government complemented its colonies with preferential duties.
Fortified wines, strong enough to survive the 20,000km journey, flooded the British market. Churchill followed, between the Wars, re-affirming Australia’s position as a leading supplier of ‘Empire wines’. After the Second World War, mass European immigration saw a move to lighter wines, as confirmed by Grange Hermitage’s creation during the 1950s. Stainless-steel vats and refrigeration improved the quality of the dry table wines on offer, with table wine consumption exceeding fortified for the first time in 1970.
Averaging 200 to 400 metres’ altitude, the region covers 6,500 hectares of mainly terra rossa loam over limestone, as well as some warmer, sandier sites – the Cambrian limestone being far more visible along the eastern boundary (the Barossa Ranges) with Eden Valley. Following a diagonal shape, Lyndoch at the southern end nearest Gulf St Vincent is the region’s coolest spot, benefiting from sea fogs, while Nuriootpa (further north) is warmer; hot northerlies can be offset by sea breezes. The region is also home to the country’s largest concentration of 100-year-old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre.
Barossa Valley Shiraz is one of the country’s most identifiable and famous red wine styles, produced to a high quality by the likes of Rockford, Elderton, Torbreck and Dean Hewitson. Grenache and Mourvèdre are two of the region’s hidden gems, often blended with Shiraz, yet occasionally released as single vineyard styles such as Hewitson’s ‘Old Garden’, whose vines date back to 1853. Cabernet Sauvignon is a less highly-regarded cultivar.
Wines are traditionally vinified in open concrete fermenters before being cleaned up and finished in American and French oak barrels or ‘puncheons’ of approximately 600 litres. Barossa Shiraz should be rich, spicy and suave, with hints of leather and pepper.
Southern Rhône Blend
The vast majority of wines from the Southern Rhône are blends. There are 5 main black varieties, although others are used and the most famous wine of the region, Châteauneuf du Pape, can be made from as many as 13 different varieties. Grenache is the most important grape in the southern Rhône - it contributes alcohol, warmth and gentle juicy fruit and is an ideal base wine in the blend. Plantings of Syrah in the southern Rhône have risen dramatically in the last decade and it is an increasingly important component in blends. It rarely attains the heights that it does in the North but adds colour, backbone, tannins and soft ripe fruit to the blend.
The much-maligned Carignan has been on the retreat recently but is still included in many blends - the best old vines can add colour, body and spicy fruits. Cinsault is also backtracking but, if yields are restricted, can produce moderately well-coloured wines adding pleasant-light fruit to red and rosé blends. Finally, Mourvèdre, a grape from Bandol on the Mediterranean coast, has recently become an increasingly significant component of Southern Rhône blends - it often struggles to ripen fully but can add acidity, ripe spicy berry fruits and hints of tobacco to blends.