Over the past few months, I’ve talked quite a bit about how Australian winemakers are increasingly working with alternative or less well-known grape varieties, such as tempranillo, viognier and chenin blanc. But perhaps less evident to consumers is the number of wineries that have adopted non-conventional wine styles. Interestingly, Hobbs, the artisan Barossa Ranges winery, has embraced with great success the challenges of employing alternative winemaking styles on typical ‘Australian’ varieties like shiraz!

Hobbs of Barossa Ranges is owned by Greg and Allison Hobbs. They have 15 acres of  vineyards, which are home to some of the Barossa’s oldest shiraz.  Nestled in the cool, beautiful Barossa Ranges, where the elevation, climate and ancient decomposed clay soils, allow for the slow ripening of the fruit, the vineyards are dry-grown, biodynamically farmed, hand-pruned and hand-picked.

The Hobbs vineyards are contiguous with Chris Ringland’s famed Chris Ringland Shiraz vineyards (formerly Chris Ringland’s Three Rivers). Ringland acts as a consultant winemaker, working with Pete Schell from Spinifex Wines, who makes the wines for Hobbs. Previously Schell was the head winemaker at Turkey Flat before starting Spinifex in 2001.

Little wonder then that this enviable combination of wine growing and winemaking skills has helped Hobbs attain critical acclaim and a strong following for its small range (only seven different wines) of very limited production wines – typically 250 or less dozens of each.

Hobbs makes a very highly rated old vine shiraz and shiraz viognier, but it is the Amarone-style Hobbs Shiraz Gregor that represents a new direction in the style of Australian shiraz.

Amarone della Valpolicella is the rich, heady red from the Valpocella region near Veneto in northern Italy. Typically it is made with the corvina grapes, a variety unique to the region, and sometimes rondinella and molinara grapes are … Read the rest