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Barossa's chameleon Shiraz

By Han Bingbin (China Daily)

09:50, May 08, 2012

Six generations of grape growers and winemakers have established the Barossa as Australia's leading region in crafting wines of great distinction with consistently outstanding vintages for the past 150 years.

While some of the greatest winemaking names of the country are based here - Penfolds, Henschke, Peter Lehman, Wolf Blass, Yalumba - the area is also home to another 160 boutique wineries and more than 80 cellar doors.

The Barossa is also internationally renowned for its typically full-flavored and luscious shiraz, which in fact has become an iconic wine from the region.

Barossa shiraz is generally considered to be very generous and impressive. It's often described as the irresistible enchantress, rich and lingering with dark berry fruit, licorice and, in the best examples, fine silky tannins that run through cocoa powder to chocolate.

According to Robert O'Callaghan, the winemaker and founder of Rockford Winery in Barossa, most vineyards across Barossa are owned by more than 500 small and independent grape growers because of the way the Barossa Valley was originally settled.

Many of these fifth-generation farmers broke their vineyards down into small patches of different varieties, soil types and ages. The result is an extremely diverse "patchwork quilt", O'Callaghan says, with each grower giving his or her patch its own distinctive character.

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