We Put ‘Great’ Into The Great Southern

Rockcliffe winery’s single site shiraz has played a starring role in a survey to find Australia’s best red wines under $40.

The beverage, which retails for around $40, was highly commended, with a score of 94 out of 100 in the top tier category priced between $25 and $40.

Results showed the Great Southern wine region, in which Rockcliffe is based, is gaining greater recognition as a powerhouse producer of top value shiraz.

The competition’s overall winner was another shiraz from the Great Southern Region – Forest Hill shiraz 2017 which hails from Frankland River. It scored 96 out of 100, and retails for $30.

About 650 bottles from major wine regions across the country were sent for judging by Ray Jordan, The West Australiannewspaper’s wine editor who has conducted similar annual surveys for two decades.

Significantly, Rockcliffe’s owner and founder, Dr Steve Hall, who turned a vineyard into an award-winning winery in little more than a decade, now chairs the Great Southern Wine Producers’ Association.

It’s an enormous undertaking, given the Great Southern is geographically Australia’s biggest wine producing region, spanning an area greater in size than many countries.

Such is its sprawl that it is divided into five sub-regions of Albany; Denmark, where Rockcliffe is based; Frankland River; Mt Barker, and Porongurup.

The distinctive features of the region, wet winters and comparatively modest summers, are gaining greater appreciation for their support of grapes that produce fine cool-climate wines.

In the $25 to $40 category in the red wine survey, four of the top 10 commendations went to wines from the Great Southern. The region’s dominance was demonstrated when the overall competition winner was yet another shiraz from the Great Southern.

The region has the longest association with grape-growing south of Perth, beating Margaret River to that honour by two years. It began as a State Government initiative to offset the failing apple industry.

As it happens, Forest Hill Vineyard, the estate that produced the competition winner, dates back to 1965, the oldest vineyard in the Great Southern.