If you enjoy big, bold wines, look no further than South Australia’s Barossa Valley. This warm, sunny winegrowing region produces some of the most concentrated and hedonistic wines you’ll ever taste. From full-bodied, plush wines like 2002 Chris Ringland Dry Grown Shiraz to more acidic and refreshing styles like 2002 Torbreck Grenache Les Amis, wines from the Barossa Valley are extremely powerful. Even the region’s white wine varieties share this characteristic.
However, the best wine from the Barossa Valley is also finessed and multidimensional. You’ll find more than just fruit bombs and overly-hot, alcoholic styles here. To build a collection of excellent Barossa Valley wine that will grow even more complex with age, look for wines from the very best producers and vintages.
What’s Unique About Barossa Valley Wine?
When you think of great wine from the Barossa Valley, you probably picture ripe, fruity Shiraz. That’s because most of the region—more than 50 percent—is planted with this variety. Although Australian Shiraz is the exact same grape variety as French Syrah, Shiraz from the Barossa Valley is very different in flavor than that grown in Côte-Rôtie and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The warmer conditions in Barossa produce fruit that is much riper and more concentrated than fruit grown in the comparably cooler Rhône valley. Even compared to rich, intense New-World Napa Valley Syrah, Shiraz from the Barossa Valley is noticeably more powerful. Few wines in the world are more generous in flavor.
The most valuable and collectible wine varieties from the Barossa Valley are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling.
The flavor profile of high-quality Barossa Valley Shiraz usually includes sweet black fruit, notes of rich chocolate, and a touch of tobacco and earthiness that lend the wine greater complexity. Like French Syrah, these wines also have a slightly peppery taste. Another reason why so many wine enthusiasts love Shiraz from this region is that, despite the wine’s intensity, the tannins are often very fine-grained and well-integrated. These wines are often drunk young, but they also have aging potential. In fact, the high alcohol content and excellent structure of the best wines from the Barossa Valley allow them to age for 15 years or more.
While this region is famous for its Shiraz, many other styles of wine made here are also worth collecting, such as:
- Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet-Shiraz blends have rich, ripe fruit flavors and supple tannins. In cool terroirs and vintages, these wines develop great complexity and healthy acidity to balance out the residual sugar. Cabernet-Shiraz blends are among the most valuable and age-worthy in the region.
- Grenache and Grenache-based blends are complex, with notes of raspberry and black pepper. Some producers make single varietal Grenache while others blend it with Shiraz and Mourvèdre (sometimes called Mataro in Australia).
- Riesling from the Barossa Valley is aromatic and citrusy. The top producers make Riesling that can age for ten to 15 years or more.
- Sémillon grown here is full-bodied and low in acid. Some winemakers use an unusual pink-skinned Madeira clone of Sémillon.
- Chardonnay made in this region is very creamy and usually very oaked. This is an extremely rich and bold Chardonnay.
The most valuable and collectible wine varieties from the Barossa Valley are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling. If you’re seeking out the very best wine from the Barossa Valley, look for these styles from the most reputable producers in the region.
What Are the Top Barossa Valley Producers?
Barossa Valley is home to some of Australia’s most sought-after producers. Most of these producers are located in the western area of the valley, where the oldest vines in the region are planted. This area, in particular, attracts top-quality producers because the western Barossa Valley experiences dramatic diurnal temperature swings. During mid-summer afternoons, the weather is often swelteringly hot, but at night temperatures dip significantly. This is a benefit for the vines because they experience long periods of direct sunlight exposure and water stress during the day, which increases sugar concentration in the grapes. At night, chilly conditions bring the acidity levels in the fruit back up to balance out their sugar.
Some of the best producers in the Barossa Valley are:
- Ballycroft: Shiraz, Montepulciano, Mataro, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and fortified Shiraz blends.
- Barton Vale: Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Binder Mitchell: Shiraz, and Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blends.
- Burge Family: Shiraz, Grenache, Muscat, Shiraz/Grenache blends, Shiraz/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blends, and tawny port.
- Chris Ringland: Shiraz.
- Colonial Estate: Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Dutschke: Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon (and blends of all three), tawny port, and Muscat.
- Elderton: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot, Riesling, Semillon, and Chardonnay.
- Glaetzer: Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blends.
- Glen Eldon: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling.
- Greenock Creek: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mataro.
- Haan: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot (and blends of all three), Semillon, Viognier, and Chardonnay.
- Hare’s Chase: Shiraz, Tempranillo, and Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blends.
- Hobbs: Shiraz, Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon blends, and Viognier.
- Hundred Acre: Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- JP Belle-Terroir: Shiraz.
- Kaesler: Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec, Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, and Semillon.
- Kalleske: Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, and fortified Shiraz.
- Murray Street Vineyard: Shiraz and Shiraz/Mataro blends.
- Penfolds: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and blends of both varieties.
- Peter Lehmann: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot (and blends of all three), and Semillon.
- R Wines: Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Garnacha.
- Rusden: Grenache, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro, Malbec, Chenin Blanc, and tawny port.
- Teusner: Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro, Cabernet Sauvignon, sparkling Shiraz, Semillon, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.
- Torbreck: Shiraz and Grenache.
- Turkey Flat: Shiraz, sparkling Shiraz, Mataro, Grenache, Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, and Pedro Ximénez.
- Two Hands: Shiraz, Grenache, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Veritas: Shiraz.
- Yalumba: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blends, Grenache, and Viognier.
- 3 Rings: Shiraz.
There are many other excellent Barossa Valley producers—these are simply some of the most notable estates to consider when you start or expand on your Australian wine collection.
Ranking Barossa Valley’s Best Vintages
To narrow down your search for the best wine from the Barossa Valley, you’ll also want to consider the quality of the vintage. Generally, the most collectible and age-worthy wines come from cooler vintages, as the cool weather contributes to higher acidity. This not only gives the wine greater aging potential, but also brings greater balance and refinement to its flavor profile.
According to Wine Advocate, two of the best Barossa Valley vintages in history are:
|Vintage||Great Wines from This Vintage|
These vintages each received scores above 96 points and are quite valuable on the secondary market. However, they may be difficult to find because they are highly sought-after.
Another option is to invest in wines that received slightly lower scores (90 points or more) but that are still very high in quality, such as:
Choosing wine from both the best producers and the highest quality vintages will increase your chances of making a return on your investment when you resell your wines in the future. It’s also important if you plan on drinking your wine. The best vintages will develop greater complexity of flavor with age, allowing you to experience another facet of these powerful wines.
Aging the Best Wine from the Barossa Valley
The aging potential of Barossa Valley wines depends on the vintage, producer, and variety. Generally, top-quality Shiraz and Cabernet-Shiraz blends will age the longest—at least ten years but often as long as 20 years or more. The most significant improvement in flavor occurs within the first ten years and usually slows down after this point unless the wine is from a spectacular vintage and is stored under ideal conditions. The region’s Riesling and Sémillon varieties also age beautifully. Although they’re not as valuable on the secondary market as Shiraz blends, they develop complex citrus and toffee flavors after seven to ten years of age. Less age-worthy wines are Chardonnay and Grenache. Barossa Valley Chardonnay typically tastes best when it’s young and fresh, while high-quality Grenache usually only needs about five years in storage before it reaches maturity.
How long you decide to age the best wine from the Barossa Valley is a matter of personal taste and goals. If you want to resell your Shiraz on the secondary market, it’s best to let it age first for at least ten years. If you plan on drinking the wine yourself, then you can open your wine whenever you feel it’s appropriate. For some, this means waiting until their wine reaches peak maturity. For others, this means opening their Barossa wines a little early, while they still taste refreshing and youthful. To make this decision easier, you can use a wine app that tracks ideal drinking windows for all of your Barossa Valley bottles. This can help you drink or resell these wines at exactly the time that makes sense for you.
Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.