It sure does get hot in Queensland. Some say that the heat can drive you mad. Boils the brains. Or something like that. So when you think Queensland and wine, the natural thought is lunacy. Surely the grapes cook? What about all that heat and rain? How do they get those sun crazed Queenslanders away from the beach long enough to harvest the fruit? And so on. Truth is the Granite Belt is cool. So cool in fact that the high peaks of the region have been known to get some snow. Surprising, right?
The region was established in the 1920's and was commercialised in the 1970s. The epicentre of the region is Stanthorpe, which sits around 90 kilometres inland from the coast on the bridge of the Great Diving Range. Granite Belt skirts the New South Wales border and showcases granitic soils with higher acidity, which when combined with the cooler than expected growing periods, translates into lighter than expected wines.
The region is famed for Shiraz wines but Cabernet Sauvignon has also met with success. Enthusiasts suggest that the terroir is very distinctive, characterised by plum, blackcurrant and cherry with cool climate spice. The red wines are light to medium bodied, fruit driven and generally very pure while whites are crisp with high natural acidity, showing peach, pear and citrus fruit flavours. Verdelho and Chardonnay are strong points.
The Granite Belt wine region is dominated by boutique producers, with little influence from big company winemaking. Wines from the region have been successful in wine shows, picking up medals and accolades throughout their commercial winemaking history. Alternative varieties, particularly Italian inspired Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Barbera, have also been gaining praise. The region was originally densely populated by Italian migrants, and has been a fruit producing region since the 19th century.
Currently the wines see little interstate movement, though larger producers have worked on some distribution. While quality is high, traction has been slow, but the Granite Belt has been ramping up its presence in Brisbane market.