Way down south at the bottom of Western Australia is the big wine producing region of Great Southern. Pretty much as far away from a capital city as it gets, Great Southern is Australia's largest wine region by area, covering a 200 kilometre by 100 kilometre expanse that is divided into five distinct sub-regions – Mount Barker, Frankland River, Denmark, Albany and Porongurup.
So what goes on down there? Nope, not an orchestra of banjos, far from it, this is one of the best Riesling and Shiraz growing regions in Australia, and though the sub-regions are highly individual, these varieties show a finesse and elegance often lacking in ‘east coast’ styles. Take Frankland River for example, a little cooler, with some elevation equals delicacy, intensity and detail in Riesling. Mount Barker? Well the Shiraz hums with a savoury vein but shows medium weight, finer tannins and a purity of fruit that’s often lost in ripeness monsters from warmer regions. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the sleepers, emerging as some of the regions most unsung heroes. Albany and Denmark seem to be better for these varieties, but there are excellent vineyard sites planted to these grapes across the Great Southern.
The great thing about this region is that it is so distinctive in its styles. You're not getting carbon copies of wines that resonate with the ‘sunshine in a bottle’ so often associated with Australia – the five sub regions steer away from the cheap and cheerfuls, preferring quality over quantity for the most part. That being said, there are still bargains to be had at every level. And the bargains aren't just for wines; you can pick up some amazing deals on banjos too…