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St Hallett Gamekeepers Reserve 2001
In the heart of the Barossa Valley, Australia's best known wine region, lies St Hallett, one of the country's premier wine producers. Established by the Lindner Family in 1944, for many years St Hallett's winemaking focus was, like many local wineries, on producing fortified wines. However, during the seventies and eighties, St Hallett turned to explore the true potential of the Barossa through premium table wines. This has resulted in St Hallett's status as one of Australia’s best producers.
St Hallett is renowned for crafting full-flavored, textured wines entirely from Barossa Valley fruit and is credited with producing benchmark wines of the region such as the iconic St Hallett Old Block Shiraz, made from vines aged up to 100 years old.
Winemaker and General Manager, Stuart Blackwell spearheaded the commissioning of the new winemaking facilities in 1988 and the installation of some of the world's most advanced fruit processing and handling equipment. Despite this modern approach, traditional winemaking techniques prevail at St Hallett as they are best suited to the winery's classic style.
A large, climatically diverse country producing just about every wine style imaginable, Australia is not just a source of blockbuster Shiraz or inexpensive wine with cute labels, though both can certainly be found here. Australia has a grand winemaking history and some of the oldest vines on the planet, along with a huge range of landscapes and climates; it is impossible to make generalizations about Australian wine. Most regions are concentrated in the south of the country with those inland experiencing warm, dry weather, and those in more coastal areas receiving humid and tropical, or maritime weather patterns. Australia has for several decades been at the forefront of winemaking technology and has widely adopted the use of screwcaps, even for some premium and ultra-premium bottles.
Shiraz is indeed Australia’s most celebrated and widely planted variety, typically producing bold, supple reds with sweet, jammy fruit and performing best in the Barossa and Hunter Valleys. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Shiraz, and also shines on its own particularly in Coonawarra and Margaret River. Grenache and Mourvèdre (often locally referred to as Mataro) are also popular, both on their own and alongside Shiraz in Rhône blends. Chardonnay is common throughout the country and made in a wide range of styles. Sauvignon Blanc has recently surged in popularity to compete with New Zealand’s distinctive version, and Semillon is often utilized as its blending partner, or in the Hunter Valley, on its own to make complex, age-worthy whites. Riesling thrives in the cool-climate Clare and Eden Valleys. Sticky-sweet fortified wine Rutherglen Muscat is a beloved regional specialty of Victoria. Thanks to the country’s relatively agreeable climate throughout and the openness of its people, experimentation is common and ongoing, and there are a vast array of intriguing varieties to be found.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.