Queensland Wine Week occurs each year and allows Brisbane wine consumers to try some Queensland wines, writes Andrew Corrigan.
Despite the Queensland image of tropical weather there are regions that are really cold and successful at excellent wine.
The Granite Belt region (around Stanthorpe on the top of the Great Dividing Range, about 3 hours drive from Brisbane) is particularly high in altitude.
Granite Belt wines have come of age and achieve national quality levels. Vineyards are situated at altitudes of 700 to 1020 metres (Hidden Creek is particularly high at 980 metres and receives sleet/snow each year).
Compared to other high areas such as King Valley, Victoria and Tumbarumba, NSW (both around 700 to 800 metres).
Of course the Granite Belt is hot in summer. The soil type is rocky and arid; the vineyard yields tend to be low – the ingredients for fine wine!
Certain grape varieties are potentially the best from the Granite Belt.
Varieties such as Verdelho, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Tempranillo and others like an inland “continental” climate (as distinct from a coastal mild, cool climate) where there is a hot summer, cold winter and a definite spring to wake up vines from winter dormancy.
The Granite Belt contains a large number of producers of varying sizes – Sirromet is quite large; Ballandean Estate is well known and has its annual opera in the vineyards; I am a part-owner of Hidden Creek and it is a medium/small size.
There are a number of quite small producers and quite a few wines are available in retail and on wine lists in Brisbane.
The South Burnett region around Kingaroy and Murgon also has excellent wine. Two larger long established producers there—Clovely Estate and Barambah—have extensive ranges of wine that are widely available.
There are also detached cellar doors in regions such as Mt Tamborine, Sunshine Coast Hinterland and Mt Mee – you can taste wines and usually have lunch with an excellent view.
While the Queensland Wine Week events finished on 6 April, there are a number of tastings and events running right through until May. See www.queenslandwine.com.au