Barossa project puts Shiraz under the microscope

Bethany Wines’ family vineyard in the Barossa Foothills continues to be an active participant in a project exploring the effect of ‘terroir’ on wine.

In the intial project in 2014, winemakers from the Wine Innovation Cluster (WIC) made nine Shiraz wines using grapes from nine anecdotally recognised areas of the Barossa. The wines were later blind-tasted to assess similarities and differences in flavours and textures.

This is all part of the Barossa Grounds Project – an initiative which seeks to better understand and communicate the regional differences (such as soil, elevation and climate) in the Barossa and how they affect the sensory profile of wine.

Schlinke’s Gully Vineyard has been chosen to represent the Barossa Foothills – a ‘parish’ of the Barossa that is home to Bethany Wines’ estate Shiraz, a classic wine boasting intense cherry aromas and flavours and soft, fine-grained tannins.

The other eight ‘parishes’ (often referred to as sub-regions) included in the project are Gomersal, Lyndoch, Rowland Flat, Vine Vale, Northern Barossa, Stonewell/Marananga, Greenock/Seppeltsfield and Eden Valley South.

The Barossa Grounds Project seeks to encourage the discussion and promotion of Barossa sub-regionality to help wine producers and consumers better understand the hallmark of place and origin.

Once the wines have been analysed for sensory descriptors, they will be showcased to important audiences such as consumers, the trade, media, sommeliers, Masters of Wine, participants in the annual James Busby Visit, the Barossa Wine Schools in Hong Kong and China, and events such as the Barossa Grounds Symposium.

Bethany Wines director Geoff Schrapel has a longstanding commitment to the Barossa wine industry. In 1996, as chairman of the Barossa Winemakers Association, he was instrumental in finalising the geographical indications (GIs) of Barossa, Eden Valley and Barossa Valley.

This was a ground-breaking move in Australian wine history, as it highlighted the influence of ‘terroir’ on the sensory properties of wine produced in different parts of a major wine region.

His commitment to the Barossa wine industry is ongoing, with his latest ambition being to make people more aware of the terroir in the Barossa Foothills.

The Barossa Foothills encompasses Bethany, Krondorf and Vine Vale. It is made distinct with its black cracking clays (Biscay soils) which are the key to the wines of this area. Alluvial and quite fertile, these vineyards produce wines of intense red berry aromas and flavours with earthy undertones. The other defining note is the round middle palates, which are very soft and inviting and generally don’t display firm tannins.