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translation missing: en.Clare Valley: Clare Valley

Welcome to the South Australian Wine Region series, where every week we feature select wine regions from the stretch of South Australia's spectacular coastlines and thriving hillsides. Subscribe to our newsletter today or view other articles in this series to learn more about the wines of the region.

Location:

Like so many wine regions in South Australia, the Clare Valley is one of the oldest in the country. It sits nestled in the northern end of the Mount Lofty Ranges, about 120 kms due north of Adelaide. Interestingly, the Clare Valley sits by itself, unconnected to any other GI Zones or regions.


The first vineyards were planted here by John Horrocks in the 1840s, with the first winery in the region established in 1851. This was Sevenhill Cellars built by Jesuits to make sacramental wine. Sevenhill still exists today and is one of South Australia’s oldest wineries.


Although Clare Valley is one of the oldest regions in Australia, the growers and winemakers that live and work here are behind some of the most important innovations in wine - the Stelvin screwcap is one such example. It is this blend of history and heritage with modern-day innovation that makes Clare Valley one of the most exciting wine regions in Australia.

Terroir:

Clare Valley is a particularly picturesque region, with its rolling green hills, stands of gum trees and tranquil streams meandering through it. The altitude of the region is quite varied ranging from around 250m to over 500m above sea level. Vineyards are located on slopes, plateaux and valley floors, creating a diversity of grape-growing conditions.


Although classified as a warm continental climate, the higher altitudes and moderating sea breezes from the nearby gulfs, create a large diurnal shift from the warm sunny days, to much colder nights. This swing in temperatures is perfect for achieving good ripeness levels, whilst retaining vibrant acidity.


There are no official subregions in the Clare Valley, but based on its diverse soil profiles, it is often divided into five different areas – Watervale, Polish Hill River, Sevenhill, Auburn and Clare. The soils throughout the valley range from terra rossa over limestone in Watervale (similar to the soils of Coonawarra), through to grey loam over sandstone interspersed with broken slate in Polish Hill River. Vineyards to the north of the valley are planted in deep, fertile alluvial soils, while those in the west are mostly sandy loam and degraded quartz. This diversity and range of soil types, coupled with differing altitudes and aspects, creates a multitude of different microclimates that winemakers can express through their respective wines.

Varieties:

The undisputed star of the Clare Valley is Riesling. Grown throughout the region, it is especially noteworthy from Watervale and Polish Hill River, where the differing soils produce two very distinct styles. Watervale Riesling tends to be more fruit-driven, with bright acidity and flavours of citrus and green apple, whereas Polish Hill Riesling is typically taut and mineral-driven, with particularly high acidity. Both areas produce cellar-worthy wines, that have great potential for ageing.


Next up are Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of these varieties do exceptionally well in the Clare Valley, with the warmer days helping ripening and the cooler nights aiding acidity retention. Both wines are typically medium to full-bodied, complex and rich, yet displaying an elegance that distinguishes the Clare Valley as a premium wine producing region.


The innovative winemakers of the Clare Valley also produce an array of alternate varieties, some of which have become quite iconic. Jim Barry’s Assyrtiko, for instance, or Wendouree Malbec are both highly sought after, and many other producers are experimenting with grapes such as Fiano, Vermentino, Sangiovese and Montepulciano with great success.

Producers:

AP Birks Wendouree, Jim Barry, Grosset, O’Leary Walker, Rieslingfreak, Kilikanoon, Wines by KT, Mount Horrocks, Adelina, Koerner, Tim Adams, Vanguardist, Pikes, Mr Mick, Some Young Punks, Taylors Wines, Cooter and Cooter, Vickery Wines, Steve Wiblin's Erin Eyes, Tonic Wines.

 

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