2020 Berry Bros. & Rudd Australian Shiraz by Hewitson, Barossa Valley
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.
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.
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We’ve once again worked with the wonderful Dean Hewitson to bring you this characterful Shiraz. The nose exhibits a warm depth of red-and-black bramble fruit, with a note of pure blackcurrant coulis. That rich black fruit continues on the palate, framed by an almost old-vine richness behind. This is a succulent, generous and rewarding wine which would make for a marvellous midweek pairing with sausages.
Catriona Felstead MW, Senior Wine Buyer, Berry Bros. & Rudd (August 2021)
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