At Golding Wines, a few kilometres south of Lobethal in the heartland of the Adelaide Hills wine region, they don’t just grow grapes, they breed them.
The 32-hectare property, home to vineyards of Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, also houses a commercial nursery for propagating vines. Vigneron Darren Golding was bred in the Hills too – his father Greg grew apples and pears at Ashton, and Darren went to school in Basket Range near the family home.
After some 40 years as an orchardist and merchant, Golding père (sorry) decided in the early 1990s to change horses, establishing the vineyards at the Lobethal site partly to help supply the relaunched Tatachilla winery in McLaren Vale. After Lion Nathan’s takeover of Tatachilla, the Golding family grapes went to a range of premium winemakers, including Petaluma and Yalumba, but, as is so often the case, the ambition to make wine under their own label took hold.
Darren Golding initially went into the realm of architecture and building – the imposing sandstone building that is now Golding’s cellardoor and winery is his design, and was literally built around his parents – but the lure of the grape proved too strong. With a viticultural qualification under his belt, he now manages the vineyards and has an increasing role in the winemaking.
“The whole gamut of being able to make something is very similar to the architecture and building story, and that’s what really interests me – you actually make and create, you plan and develop, you experiment, and then you have this end result,” Golding says.
The first Golding wines were released in 2002, and the portfolio has expanded steadily. The 2013 Handcart Shiraz, a top 10 winner in the Hot 100 Wines, is part of a range named in tribute to Adelaide’s defunct East End produce markets; there is also a series of single vineyard wines and a premium range honouring the Golding forebears, including Darren’s maternal grandfather Rocco, a Calabrian migrant vegetable grower. Cool-climate Shiraz, which was something of a curio 30 years ago, has become the signature style of several Australian wine regions.
In Victoria, chilly regions like Beechworth and the Grampians made their names with their distinctive take on our most ubiquitous variety, while the nation’s best Shiraz-Viognier manifested itself at Clonakilla, just north of Canberra. In South Australia, the Adelaide Hills region has taken on the mantle, thanks to wines from makers such as Shaw and Smith, Karrawatta, Ochota Barrels, Tapanappa and Honey Moon. Golding’s Handcart Shiraz is the only example of local Shiraz to claim a top 10 place in the current Hot 100, and again points to the approachability of the cool-climate model. Shiraz is everywhere, but the style is evolving, Golding says.
“I think the style here, where you’re getting more elegant flavours, more spice, more restraint and probably a different primary fruit spectrum – some more of the raspberries, the blueberries and the redcurrants rather than the deeper mocha chocolate sort of thing – is certainly tapping into where I think wine style is headed. And we’re right in the box seat.”
Golding is keen to appeal to the new generation of drinkers for whom drinkability is the prime consideration. “One thing we really think we can really do well is that fragrant, easy-drinking, fresh Gamay style, and our 2015 Purveyor Pinot Noir, which also made the Hot 100, is right in that zone. It’s jubey and it’s juicy, but it finishes dry and it’s quite moreish and easy to drink.”
While a section of Sauvignon Blanc vines at Golding are making way for more Shiraz, there are also some rows of new, untested varietals going in. Golding says it is the excitement of new horizons (as well as the noise of his children) that gets him out of bed in the mornings.
“If you play it safe, where’s the interest in it?” goldingwines.com.au