A lot of Australians may not know, but the Barossa Valley is Australia’s most famous wine region overseas. I still remember dreaming about the Barossa when I was studying wine in Argentina. That’s why I chose this region as my home, because I believe in the capacity of these soils to make some of the most beautiful wines in the world. In 2017, I arrived in the Barossa, and of course I went to visit one of the most classic and traditional wineries in this region, Greenock Creek. This winery has been making wines for decades, and helped Australian wines gain recognition around the world, receiving 100 points from Robert Parker on several occasions.
They are famous for their classic Australian style, full-bodied and rich with a good expression of fruit grown in the famous Barossa Valley soils. Greenock Creek only make red wines, and when you focus on making just one thing, over time you end up perfecting it. That’s what we found at Greenock Creek, really great red wines. Recently I tasted the first four wines to be released by Greenock Creek from the 2019 vintage with the winemaker, Alex Peel.
Greenock Creek Four Cuttings Shiraz 2019
Alex was explaining that he sourced the fruit from 4 different regions in the Barossa, as he wants to bring a range of components to create different layers of flavour in the wine. I went to visit some of the vineyards with him, and I could see why he chose each one.
The fruit from Lyndoch brings the floral notes and the delicacy in the wine. The grapes from Rosedale struggle to grow in the rocky soils there, resulting in smaller berries with more concentration in the grapes, which bring structure to the wine. The grapes from Tanunda have a plummy and chocolate profile, bringing deep, intense flavours, while the grapes from Koonunga bring freshness to the wine, along with cherry and spicy notes.
Alex is a young winemaker, making wines the traditional and classic way, using the basket press to create all of Greenock Creek’s wines. This wine is aged in American and French oak, which add richness and flavours such as vanilla, coconut and cedar. It has a great balance between alcohol and fruit concentration, and lingers pleasingly on the palate.
Greenock Creek Stone Block Shiraz 2019
When I need to describe a wine like this to my customers, I tell them “This is a big boy shiraz from Barossa”. You can drink this wine now, because it’s a fine wine that is well-balanced, but it’s definitely the type of wine you can put in your cool, dark cellar to smooth out the muscly tannins and further develop the beautiful earthy and savoury notes.
This wine is only sourced from the Moppa region of the Barossa, and talking with Darren Westlake, the grapegrower, plus seeing what he is doing at his vineyards I could tell the quality of this wine started in the fruit. When you have great grapes in the winery, the winemaker’s work becomes much easier; he just needs to highlight the fruit expression in the final wine.
Alex ages the Stone Block Shiraz in French and American oak, resulting in a great intensity of aromas with flavours of dark fruits, sweet spices, meat, coffee and dark chocolate plus well-integrated acidity, firm tannins and a remarkable finish.
Greenock Creek Four Cuttings Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
This cabernet sauvignon comes from the Light Pass region, where roots are anchored in deep sandy soils, resulting in grapes with pungent, typical black fruit aromas, such as cassis and black cherries plus tomato leaf with great structure of firm and chalky tannins.
The 2019 vintage was a warm, dry vintage in the Barossa Valley, resulting in low bunch numbers and crop yields, which explains the deep, dark ruby colour in this wine. As cabernet sauvignon and French oak love each other, Alex didn’t use any American oak for this wine, only pure and subtle French oak, with a combination of 15% new barrels and 85% seasoned oak, which compliments the wine with pleasant sweet spice, coffee and tobacco flavours.
Greenock Creek High Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
We are back on Darren Westlake’s vineyards in the Moppa region for this wine. This is one of the higher points in the Barossa Valley, providing cooler conditions for the vineyards, which cabernet sauvignon benefits from by ripening slowly, giving the fruit more time to mature the tannins along with sugar and flavours.
The ripe fruit from this vineyard matches perfectly with the complex aromas introduced by aging in barrels. This wine has spent 18 months in French oak, in a combination of 20% new and 80% seasoned oak barrels. There are deep flavours, with round textured tannins, that build width and weight as they roll through to a long, lush finish.