Langhorne Creek is part of the greater Fleurieu zone south of Adelaide, along with McLaren Vale. First identified in 1850 the Langhorne Creek region lies on the edge of Lake Alexandrine, into which the Bremer River flows, its sandy alluvial floodplain providing rich pastures.
Wines were being made by the 1870s and some of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon vines planted in 1892 are still cropping today. After the fortifieds came the dry reds of the ‘60s, celebrated by a young German winemaker Wolf Blass. One of Australia’s first irrigation schemes kept the ticking until salinity levels (now at 1560 ppm) forced the authorities to allow water to be taken directly from the Lake. This triggered a tide of corporates to rush to the area during the 1990s, growing the area from 440 to 6400ha and constructing irrigation pipelines of up to 100km long to feed their vines; the fruit of which is then blended away anonymously. There are up to ten privately-owned estates waving the Langhorne Creek banner.
The feeding frenzy can only last so long as Lake Alexandrina’s levels are dropping fast. For so long the Lake’s presence has been a great climate moderator, providing a constant breeze, maintaining a high relative humidity (60%) & reducing the risk of frost. Were it to dry up viticulture would probably be unfeasible.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the key grape, ripening well in the sandy soils and benefiting from the notable daily diurnal temperature shift. The Langhorne Creek style is a crunchy rich blackcurrant fruit profile with fine tannins and surprising elegance. Verdelho and Shiraz are also impressive.
Bremerton and Noon are arguably the regions top producers