There don’t appear to be many wine tour operators offering tours to the Macedon Ranges, which suits me just fine.
I am seeing a steady increase in interest for tours to this wonderful, mysterious cool climate region. Most people are surprised to learn that the Macedon Ranges is the coolest wine growing region on the mainland of Australia. The only other areas that have cooler summer temperatures for wine production are to be found in certain pockets of Tasmania.
Granite Hills is one of the earliest wine producers, with Riesling vines dating back to the 1970s. Located at the north east end of the Macedon Ranges, the vineyard and winery are nestled among the granite boulders of the Great Dividing Range.
As many of you would be aware, granite soils are perfect for Riesling vines, offering excellent drainage, and infusing stoney minerality to the wines. This minerality is often detected as a pleasant ‘wet stone’ character or the evocative smell of wet roads and concrete after a summer storm. It is all due to the ancient granitic soils.
The two wines for which Granite Hills are most recognized are Riesling and the original ‘peppery’ Shiraz. Pepper notes are an indication of cool climate, and can vary from year to year. It is a subject that owner and winemaker Llew Knight is tireless in conversations with his customers about.
As he explains – “Peppery aromas in Shiraz are from cool climates – so it is a bit cheeky for producers from warmer areas of Australia to market their wine with ‘Pepper’ in the description or brand name”. Enough said. Discuss it with Llew!
I am happy to report that as well as the above highly awarded wines, Granite Hills are also producing small parcels of some of the most interesting alternate varieties in Australia. These include Gamay, Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc, to name but a few.
I will most likely publish a tasting notes on some of the more alternate varietals in future, as they are delicious, but I could not resist purchasing the new vintage Riesling – 2018 for review. Released in March 2019, Llew informed me that the yields were down around 20% in 2018 – which hurts the bottom line of small estate producers. With the warm, even ripening at the end of vintage however, the quality of the wine was very good.
One of the most rewarding ‘take aways’ from a tasting at Granite Hills, is to learn that there is no added acid in this wine. Due to the very cool climate, it is all natural acid from the Riesling grapes.
It is worth noting that even some of the most renowned Australian regions for Riesling need to add acid to the wines because of the warmer climate. The winemakers from the Clare Valley and Eden Valley usually need to add tartaric acid to balance the wines. This can sometimes give a course, astringent finish to the wine – especially when young.
The reason I decided to review the new vintage of Granite Hills Riesling (2018), is simply due to the facts that I enjoy drinking this wine every vintage. The wines mature magnificently for 10 years or more, due to the natural acidity, and finally – it is one of the best Rieslings in Australia under $25!
When tasted at a cooler temperature, there were aromatic notes of the prized ‘wet stones’ minerality. Upon warming up in the glass, there also appeared inviting notes of rose petal and citrus peel. The palate is clean, fresh and mouthwatering – driven by the pure natural acidity of the wine.
A perfect match for delicate white fish. Anything that enjoys a squeeze of lemon works well. I enjoyed my wine with homemade chicken and spring onion dumplings, fried rice and marinated fried tofu.
Score out of 100
Why not get a tour of your friends/ family together for a wonderful tour of the Macedon Ranges? It is a memorable drive up the Bourke and Wills Track to visit Granite Hills. Llew, Andrea and the team would love to see you.
Visit the Perfect Day Tours website for great price current offers.