Granite Belt: It's one of the most beautiful wine regions in the nation – and one of the least known.
The topography of Queensland's Granite Belt wine region
Perched high in the stunning Darling Downs, it is a region dominated by great standing granite tors elevated to between 600 metres to 1200 metres. This elevation subdues the sub-tropical climate making it much cooler and less humid than other parts of the surrounding countryside. Despite its relative close proximity to the equator, the Granite Belt wine region is high enough above sea level to have a climate that is described as ‘cool’. The elevation ensures a long, warm climate, without the humidity seen on valley floors, and closer to the coast. The autumns are gloriously long with perfect ripening conditions. Then comes the chill of the winter. Many of the region’s 60, or so, winemakers have vineyards that are high enough to see snow in some winters. The chill of the cold months is essential for a successful vintage as vines need to go into a cold-induced dormancy before a successful bud burst in spring.
When did Granite Belt develop into a wine region?
The first vines were planted early in the colonial period in the 1850s. Italian immigrants arrived in numbers after both world wars, growing table grapes and fermenting excess into wine. A lot of this glut ended up with their relatives in the cane fields in the north of Queensland. The modern era of Granite Belt winemaking started in the 1960s. The classic French varieties of chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon were planted, and the region became known for full-bodied reds and elegant whites made in the Old World style. As the 20th century came to a close, alternative and other varieties such as lagrein, vermentino and montepulciano became more popular.
Who are some of Granite Belt's most well-known winemakers?
One of the best-known Granite Belt winemakers is Sirromet. This respected brand has more than 100 hectares under vine across the Granite Belt, making the most of microclimates and differing soil types. Sirromet has an extensive range of wines made with the classic French varieties, including the NV Sparkling made with a blend of white grapes including chardonnay; this is a zesty, fresh sparkling wine with notes of apple and quince, great with light autumnal dishes.
What wines are some of Sirromet's best wines?
The Sirromet Sauvignon Blanc (205510) expresses the granitic soils with a lovely crisp wine with hints of gooseberry and a clean spine of minerally acid, perfect with seafood. Red lovers will appreciate the Sirromet Shiraz (205509), a beautiful red with great colour and classic pepper and berry notes making it great with meat and BBQ dishes. Along with the handy 187ml plastic bottle range, Sirromet is a great way of introducing wine lovers to this unique Australian wine region.
Want to try the wines of Granite Belt and beyond?