Langhorne Creek: Not just blending material

Langhorne Creek is one of Australia’s oldest and most significant wine regions. It was Frank Potts who realised the potential of the region in the mid-1800s. He was convinced that the stands of tall red gums promised fertile soils and reliable water. And water is something the area certainly doesn’t lack, as it was founded on the broad flood plain influenced by the local Bremer and Angas Rivers, which floods every year.

The name ‘Langhorne Creek’ acknowledges Alfred Langhorne, a cattle drover, who brought animals overland to a property known as ‘Langhorne’s Station’ during the 1840′s. The place where Alfred Langhorne traversed the Bremer River was referred to as ‘Langhorne’s Crossing’, and from this the current name Langhorne Creek evolved.

The growing season climate is predominantly shaped by the on-shore southerly winds blowing directly from the Southern Ocean across Lake Alexandrina. The key grape varieties are Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, which you will often see as a component in regional blends. While less than a quarter of the wine currently made from grapes grown in Langhorne Creek is sold as a single-region wine, the style is relatively easy to define.

Generally the wines are immediately accessible, soft and fragrant. With the Cabernet, flavours are in the red berry spectrum, often with some gentle minty and chocolate overtones though seldom herbaceous or tannic. As in the Clare Valley, here Malbec adds a particular dimension when added to the blend, providing an almost riotously juicy wine with more cassis evident.

Often released as a single varietal but also blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Malbec, Shiraz produces strikingly fruity wines with flavours and aromas of cherry and mint. Its hallmark regional softness finishes with that hint of spice still remaining. Although produced in relatively small quantities, a regional specialty, particularly as a fortified wine in the style of Madeira, Verdelho is increasingly handled as a soft, early maturing table wine.

Despite continuing to supply considerable and useful blending material to the bigger companies, an increasing number of fine individual producers have been emerging. The likes of Bremerton Wines, John’s Blend, Lake Breeze Wines and Brothers in Arms have all managed to raise the bar in their own unique ways. Bleasdale, the original premium winery who continue to set the benchmark, was established by the aforementioned father of Langhorne Creek viticulture, Frank Potts, in 1850.

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