Sunny Queensland – You think sunshine, surf & sand but what about wine? Then a scenic 2.5-3 hour drive south west from Brisbane city and nestled between Warwick and the border of Northern NSW is a hidden wine region gem. The Granite Belt sits approximately 900m above sea level and is in fact classified as a cool climate region. It is rich in volcanic soil, and at the most southern end of the region we have the pioneers of Granite Belt wine country – Ballandean Estate.

The Puglisi family established the winery in 1932 and it is currently headed by Angelo Puglisi, known widely as the “Father of Queensland Wine”. They continue to craft world class and award-winning wines. It has not always been smooth sailing for Ballandean Estate as the 2020 vintage proved to be one of the most difficult years in their long history. The region was hit by drought so water was brought in simply to keep the vines alive. Despite only a small vintage, the remainder was then all lost to a hailstorm. An estimated 10 000 vines succumbed to the effects of the drought and Angelo has begun replanting with 4000 Shiraz vines already in the ground. On a positive note, 2020 did see a busier cellar door as local tourism increased after the reopening in June and without international travel local Queenslanders saw this an opportunity to explore their own backyard.

Having recently spent time in the Granite Belt as part of my wine studies, my last vineyard visit of the week was to Ballandean Estate and watching the early morning harvesting of their Shiraz whilst also getting some hands-on experience with handpicking the end rows…what a treat to see the vineyard firsthand! Over the week I become familiar with the Granite Belt “strange bird wines trail” which showcases rare and alternative varietal blends. Whilst the region does make mainstream wines such as stunning shiraz and elegant chardonnays, it also does other European varieties extremely well.

This is part 1 of 4 Ballandean Estate wines I will sharing. My first is a Nebbiolo 2018 with a RRP of $42.

I poured my first glass, and a brilliant ruby red colour captured my eyes. On the nose dark cherry popped out immediately which then compliments the taste of almost black forest cake (think dark chocolate dipped cherries) on a first sip. Whilst the black forest chocolate lingers beautifully, I had gentle hits of spice (anise) and a floral bouquet of roses almost like they were blossoming. Initially its first flavour profiles were fruit forward and high acid with robust tannins but it easily then softens and morphs into a herbaceous truffle finish. A youthful Nebbiolo that is ready to drink now or can be cellared to age gracefully.

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