Adelaide Hills ‘makes a Pollock painting look simple’

The diversity of different terroirs in the Australian region of the Adelaide Hills “makes a Jackson Pollock painting look simple”, according to one local producer.

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Adelaide Hills’ vineyards are like a patchwork quilt

Speaking to the drinks business during a recent trip to Australia, Tom Keelan, of The Pawn Wine Company, said: “If you look at a soil map of the Adelaide Hills it makes a Jackson Pollock painting look simple.

“We’re fine tuning our soil mapping at the moment and are starting to find our feet. Pinot used to be made like Shiraz in the Adelaide Hills – it was picked very late. There’s a new regime now and it has got stronger as a category.

“Winemakers are going back to using traditional techniques, are picking a lot earlier and are using whole bunch fermentation.

“There are massive changes going on in the style of Pinot being made from here, which is helping to express the terroir more. We’re not making Coca-Cola – vintage variation is part of expressing our wines.”

As to whether the variety can work in the Adelaide Hills, Keelan admitted that the situation is extremely site specific, and that a lot of places are too warm for Pinot.

In terms of Australia’s flagship red variety – Shiraz – Keelan believes the Adelaide Hills produces “elegant” examples, rather than those with “jammy, dead fruit”.

“Our Shiraz’ have bright fruit that jumps out of the glass at you. Our gentle use of oak lets the fruit shine in the glass. New oak doesn’t suit cool climate fruit as you don’t get that bright red fruit character, but more white pepper notes.

“Our region is something of a trailblazer and we’re forging our own path. Riper fruit characters are being encapsulated in an elegant package. There’s a lot more subtlety to the Shiraz from Adelaide compared to the Barossa,” he said.

An in-depth look at the stylistic changes taking place in Australian winemaking appears in the January issue of the drinks business.

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