Region: Eden Valley
The Eden Valley is often overshadowed by the Barossa Valley, which is right next door. In fact, the Barossa area includes both the Eden and Barossa Valleys.
But the Eden is home to some pretty sensational wineries. You’ll all know Henschke wines, and potentially Mountadam too. I’ve also discovered some pretty outstanding smaller producers like Torzi Matthews (The Frost Dodger and Schist Rock wines), Flaxman and a few others.
Heggies is tied in with the famous Yalumba crowd. First planted in 1971, there are now 43 hectares under vine. The vineyard is one of Australia’s highest at 550m above sea level, which means it’s a lovely cool climate vineyard. This brings out more elegant flavours in the wines.
The current winemaker is Peter Gambetta, who has been making wine since 1984 and has been at the helm of Heggies for nearly a decade. He is all about minimal intervention, but he’s also willing to experiment.
While most of the famous wines from the Eden are Shirazes or Shiraz blends, the only red produced by Heggies at the moment is their Merlot. However, every time I see the map of the vineyard (see the website), a special ‘trial block’ always catches my interest, so who knows what’s due in the future.
Chardonnay is probably the wine that everyone thinks of first when Heggies comes to mind. It’s a sensational Chardonnay, with lots of interesting flavours going on in the bottle. Natural yeast brings a distinct individuality, malolactic fermentation brings some butteriness (but not too much) and restrained use of French oak brings out those lovely vanilla flavours. A few months ago I wrote about the resurgence of Chardonnay. If you want to see what it’s all about, this is where you should start. You’ll generally find it for somewhere between $25 and $30.
When you think of Australian Riesling, the Clare Valley is usually the first region that pops into mind. The Clare is known for zingy acid when young and a long aging potential. You’ll find a bit more minerality in the Edens with a sensational acid structure that will offer great aging potential too. And remember, Riesling is always sensational value as no expensive oak is used. You can usually find this one for around $20 and even less when on special.
The Merlot is a fascinating beast. Normally you may think of Merlot as light and smooth with nothing amazing happening in the bottle – sort of red wine for beginners, perhaps. This is certainly not the case with this one – this is one serious vino. Different parcels of fruit are treated in different ways. Some of it receives extended skin contact, some ferments in oak. Some is crushed as whole berries and some isn’t. The restrained use of oak means that there is a cedary element to the wine, but the bright red berry flavours can also shine though. It’s a complex wine – savoury and serious. While the Chardonnay is the most famous wine, this one deserves a lot of attention also. Again, it’s around the $30ish mark and will suit any red wine lover.
There are a few other wines available, such as a Botrytis Riesling (dessert wine). In good vintages, reserve wines are released in pretty limited quantities.
So it seems pretty weird for an Eden Valley winery to not produce a Shiraz, but when they do their other wines so well, who cares?