Greenstone Vineyard Shiraz 2012 Heathcote Australia

Greenstone Vineyard Shiraz 2012, Heathcote, Australia

Drunk September 2015 @ home

The winery

The 40 hectare Greenstone Vineyard is situated north of the town of Heathcote at Colbinabbin, about a 90 minutes drive north of Melbourne with around twenty hectares under vine.

The Heathcote wine region lies just north of the Great Dividing range in central Victoria at an altitude of around 200 metres. It is long, encompassing a large proportion of the Cambrian ridge, and this distance means there is a marked climatic difference between north and south.

In general, Heathcote, while warmer and more continental than districts south of the Great Dividing Range, still enjoys some lower temperatures because of the prevailing cool, south to southeast winds. These sweep over the Tooborac hills up on to the Mount Camel Range, and blow from October to March, coinciding with the vines’ growing period.

The Greenstone vineyard is located about two-thirds of the way up the region, where temperatures are warmer, rainfall lower (500mm) and access to supplementary irrigation is close by.

It is positioned on the ridge of old Cambrian soil that runs through the eastern side of the Mount Camel range. This narrow strip, running, north from Lancefield towards Rochester, is unique, not only to vine growing in Victoria but in Australia.

The soils are the oldest known in the country, originating over 550 million years ago. Most soils of volcanic origin in Australia, such as those around Melbourne and Western Victoria, are young and highly acidic whereas these ancient Cambrian soils are near neutral in pH. The Mount Camel range itself is a result of a rift in the sea floor, from which molten rock arose, encapsulating limestone into the lava. The resulting soil is deep, red-coloured, mottled with lime and impart low vigour to the vines growing in it.

These soil characteristics were some of the features which attracted winemaker Alberto Antonini, who firmly believes that calcium in the soil is essential for the production of elegant red wines.

The Heathcote ‘greenstone’, a form of copper-infused basalt, is an integral part of the soil and gives the vineyard its name.

Further down the slope to the east, the soils become darker, heavier and contain little lime. They are the result of gradual erosion and movement either under the original sea which covered most of central Victoria and southern New South Wales during that period, or erosion by wind and rain since sea levels receded.

The Greenstone vineyard, situated high on the Cambrian Ridge, is where the red soils are most uniform. On a more micro scale, our soils are also of a moderate and uniform depth which is critical in growing vines of similar vigour producing similar crop loads.

Viticulturist Mark Walpole was first attracted to the red soil of Heathcote when, as a ten year old, he travelled with his family over the Mount Camel ranges and was struck by the red wool on the sheep that grazed on the Cambrian soils. Years later, as Chief Viticulturist for Brown Brothers, he was one of the first people to recognise the great potential that existed in Heathcote for quality red wine when he developed their Patricia vineyard, which is ten kilometres north of the Greenstone site.

The wine

The vines are planted east west in orientation in order to protect them from the hot summer sun and prevent sun burn and at a density of 4,545 vines per hectare, further reducing vigour. Grass has been planted between the rows in order to add organic matter and improve the soil environment for vine root activity. Rootstocks are 101-14, a low vigour variety. Shiraz clones are 2626 (South Australian clone) PR 10 and PT 23 (NSW clones).

In 2012 Heathcote received a lot more rainfall than South Australia with plenty of potential for rot and fungal disease. There was around 150mm of rain during a one week period towards the end of February.

The grapes were hand picked in early March and transported to the Kooyong Winery in the Mornington Peninsula, where they under went  a natural cold soak followed by fermentation with natural yeasts. Maceration lasted 2 weeks in open top fermenters.  The cap was punched down by hand to extract good colour and ripe tannins. After fermentation the wine was aged for 20 months in French barriques from the forests of Never and Jupilles, of which 20% was new oak.

Fermented Grape tasting notes

Really fruity on the nose with peppery notes and this continues on the palate with a wonderful balance of interesting fruit notes, pepper, chocolate and spice. Excellent complexity and length show casing the quality of the shiraz from this Heathcote wine. Great wine and great terroir!