Hobbs is special because the estate is family owned and underlain by a modus operandi formulated when the family departed a life in the city for one in the vines. This means that things are done the way they are because they simply feel intuitive. They feel right. The viticultural landscape is one of organic practises, if not certification. Hand pruning and picking are de rigueur. Irrigation is used only as a last resort. In the context of the Barossa, the vineyards are on the cooler side. The winemaker is now Pete Schell of Spinifex fame. With this, the wines have taken on a lighter, more effusive and drinkable shade. Yet the Gregor Shiraz is the most potent in the arsenal. This is because it finds inspiration in the semi-dried grape style of Amarone, in Italy’s Veneto. Dried on racks, fruit of this nature sees extract, sugars and solids to liquid ratio enhanced. The resultant wine is a tour de force marked by salumi, dried dark fruit accents and a savoury whiff of porcini, anise, cherry liqueur and roasted nuts. A wine to drink with richer foods, or to bury in the cellar.
Colonel William Light, the South Australian colony’s Surveyor-General, named the Barossa in 1837 after the site of an English victory over the French in the Spanish Peninsular War. In the mid-1800’s Silesian and English immigrants settled in the area. The Barossa itself comprises two distinct sub-regions: Eden Valley and the warmer Barossa Valley floor at 270m.The Barossa Valley enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate characterised by hot dry summers and relatively low rainfall. Cool sea breezes from the Gulf of St Vincent modify the temperature, however hot northerly winds can occasionally dominate creating considerable vine stress. Many older established vineyards are dry-grown, but supplementary irrigation is also extensively used. The valley is comprised of rich brown soils and alluvial sands. A long history of uninterrupted viticulture in the area means the Barossa valley is home to Australia’s largest concentration of old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre with many over 100 years old. Although most famous for Shiraz, the Barossa can also produce fragrant and deliciously fruity Grenache blends and beautifully rich, chocolatey Cabernet Sauvignons.