Golden Grove Wines
When I heard that Golden Grove’s 2018 Barbera won champion wine, and their 2019 Vermentino a gold medal, at the Courier Mail Queensland Wine Awards earlier this year, I couldn’t help but make a beeline for my laptop to get online and order a few bottles. After all, there’s nothing better than discovering a new favourite drop, and it’s even better when we can also satisfy our parochial urges by supporting a Queensland producer, right? I was aware of the burgeoning reputation of Golden Grove as a leading Stanthorpe winery, but I hadn’t read much about their success with the Italian varietals like barbera. Could it be true that a Granite Belt producer was churning out old-world varietals to a show winning quality?
The Golden Grove Estate sits in the highlands of the Ballandean Valley at an altitude of about 820 metres where the vineyards benefit from cooler summer temperatures, allowing for longer ripening seasons. It’s been a rather dry period for the Granite Belt producers of late, but the Golden Grove vineyards have the benefit of irrigation from Accommodation Creek, and if the Barbera and Vermentino are anything to go by, they’re coping with the drought conditions reasonably well.
Their vineyards were first planted in 1946 by Mario and Nita Costanzo who were intent on supplying table grapes for the local market, but in time, other varietals were planted for winemaking purposes. These days, it’s still in the family as Ray Costanzo takes responsibility for winemaking duties and was, in fact, crowned Queensland Winemaker of the Year at the recent Awards. And from what I tasted, I’d say he’s a vigneron whose star is well and truly on the rise.
Golden Grove is hardly a newcomer to accolades, having received the recognition of being named a “Red Star Winery” by industry stalwart and judge, James Halliday, some years ago. And it’s not the mainstream styles that have been putting the Costanzo family on the oenological map. While chardonnay, semillon and shiraz are prominent amongst the Golden Grove offering, it’s the French, Italian and Spanish varietals that are doing the heavy lifting. Apart from the award-winning Barbera, there’s Nero D‘Avola, Tempranillo, Durif and of course, Vermentino for the white wine lovers, all of which are flying the flag for the Granite Belt region.
Barbera is an Italian varietal that is most commonly found in the Piedmont region and is Italy’s third most planted grape. Typically medium-bodied, its calling card is its highly acidic finale, softness and complexity. It’s been planted in Australia since the 1960s but has only found favour with consumers in more recent times.
But the Golden Grove Barbera, it seems, is the current stable star and is hitting the shelves at a remarkably reasonable $30 price point. And the hype is well justified if you ask me.
There’s a delightful violet and jubey nose and very pretty red fruits and raspberries through the middle. I’d say that it’s only light to medium-bodied, but the gentle tannins and zippy acids on the finish make for an ambrosial conclusion. I love the ripeness of the fruit and the balance brought by tannin and acid. It’s not hard to see what the esteemed judges saw in it in making it Champion Wine of Show! Great wine, great value and, quite apart from getting to enjoy a cracking red, you can feel good about supporting a Queensland business in the process.