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Heathcote - "a name synonymous with high quality Shiraz"

Heathcote is located approximately 100km northwest from the city of Melbourne.

Heathcote as a region is regarded as warm but not hot. Because of it's particular climate, the region is now regarded as one of the best regions for Shiraz in Australia. Being a warm region (cool compared to Barossa), it develops richness in fruit and lovely spicy elements, which can be easily masked in the hotter regions in Australia. The particular climate allows us to get ripe fruit flavours with intensity but with no overt jamminess. The result is a wine of distinction in terms of fruit and other complex elements, especially if it is allowed to age.

Our fruit comes from 2 locations in Heathcote. The Mt Camel range - The original vineyard was planted in 1860, grubbed out in 1921 and replanted in the mid nineties. The soils are of the famous Cambrian red type that are not found anywhere else the world.

A combination of terroir (Climate, Cambrian Red Soils and Aspect) contribute to this unique site known as Heathcote that the Australians have gone "nuts about" and the world in now discovering.

Further to the south of the Heathcote township is a different terroir, which consists of decomposed granitic gray soils and a cooler climate. Our other vineyard is at Graytown. Such terroir is expressed in the wine as more ethereal notes and opulent in fruit with less "mineral" vibrancy as compared to it's Cambrian counterpart. It appears to take on the characteristics of Upper Goulburn in Central Victoria

"... Heathcote is generally recognized as one of Australia's finest for Shiraz"… " These are wines with awesome depth of flavour, richness and ripeness, a vinous brocaded tapestry. Typically 13.5 per cent to 14 per cent alcohol, they are extremely long-lived." James Halliday, Light hidden under an organic bushel, THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN, WINELINES, 09/01/1999

"… Some observers tip Heathcote as the very best place in Australia for full-blooded red wine (an opinion I share: as I've written previously, if I ever gave in to the urge to make wine myself, Heathcote's where I'd go)." Max Allen, The new red centre, AUSTRALIAN MAGAZINE, April 27-28 2002

Doug Frost, Special to The San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The great Yarra winemaker, Sergio Carlei of Green Vineyards, drove me along the Northern Highway and on the road to the east of a long line of hills just north of town. "What's this look like?" he screamed over the whine of his ancient Alfa Romeo. I stammered, searching for an answer. "Burgundy," he barked, and he's right. The hills face to the east.

The best sites of Burgundy face to the east and south and as a result don't see a great deal of late afternoon sun. The Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays as a result are elegant, structured and sometimes a little reticent when young.

It's Carlei's belief that this area will become Shiraz's Burgundy, in a manner of speaking. Obviously many are in agreement and are voting with their wallets, The Shiraz from these slopes is ripe but contains nuances either overwhelmed or missing from the fruit bombs found in hot sites such as the Barossa Valley.

Carlei is very critical of Barossa Valley Shiraz. "American oak (used in most Barossa Shiraz) is like a magnifying glass for the sweetness of Barossa Shiraz," he says. "I don't like dessert wine with my main course."

Carlei has bought into this area and is madly passionate about the wines he makes from Heathcote fruit. And far better is still in barrels.

Many of the wines from these areas have firmer structure than the wines of the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. But a quick glance at the pages of most wine magazines reveal the bias of current wine magazines toward the big, blowsy style of those warm sites to the more refined style of these Victorian wines.

Ten years on, the Heathcote wines are still structured, still rich but still light on their feet. Many of the hot-site wines, including those from the well-known Hunter Valley, grow to become ponderous and clunky. It may take another 10 years before more critics may become convinced of the difference.

 

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