Colonel William Light, the South Australian colony’s Surveyor-General, named the Barossa in 1837 after the site of an English victory over the French in the Spanish Peninsular War. In the mid-1800’s Silesian and English immigrants settled in the area. The Barossa itself comprises two distinct sub-regions: Eden Valley and the warmer Barossa Valley floor at 270m.The Barossa Valley enjoys a warm Mediterranean climate characterised by hot dry summers and relatively low rainfall. Cool sea breezes from the Gulf of St Vincent modify the temperature, however hot northerly winds can occasionally dominate creating considerable vine stress. Many older established vineyards are dry-grown, but supplementary irrigation is also extensively used. The valley is comprised of rich brown soils and alluvial sands. A long history of uninterrupted viticulture in the area means the Barossa valley is home to Australia’s largest concentration of old-vine Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvedre with many over 100 years old. Although most famous for Shiraz, the Barossa can also produce fragrant and deliciously fruity Grenache blends and beautifully rich, chocolatey Cabernet Sauvignons.
Barossa Valley Estates was established by 50 Barossa grape growers (members of the Valley Growers Co-operative) many of them from the dry-grown northern Moppa and Ebenezer sub-regions of the Barossa. BVE is now partially owned by Constellation Brands. The winery, complete with visitors centre, is located at Seppeltsfield one of the prettiest sub-regions of the Barossa. The highly regarded Barossa Valley Estates E&E Black Pepper Shiraz is sourced from some of the best dry grown vineyards in the Barossa, ranging from 30 to 100 year old vines and averaging about 65 years. Although this wine is essentially a tete de cuvee reflecting the power, richness and flavour of regional Barossa Shiraz, inevitably most of the fruit is picked from the very low-yielding vines in the northeast corner of the Barossa Valley. The wine is made in the traditional style. Picked at optimum ripeness, the wines are fermented in open headed down fermenters. At dryness, the wines are drained and pressed into a combination of new and 1 and 2 year old American and French oak for between 12 and 18 months. The E&E Black Pepper Shiraz was originally conceived by Colin Glaetzer, founder of Glaetzer Wines and the father of enterprising winemaker Ben Glaetzer. It comprises the best of fruit from the vintage. Black Pepper Shiraz is considered a benchmark Barossa Shiraz with its plush rum 'n raisin/aniseed nose, ripe tannins, deep-set fruit, and skilful oak handling. Certainly, they have the balance and structure to age well. This reputation for aging and consistency has propelled E&E into the top echelon of the secondary market wine. The wines are highly prized by Australian collectors. Barossa Valley Estates also produces a Sparkling E&E Shiraz, which is a variant. Both of these wines attract a high volume of interest on the secondary market, although the latter is extremely specialised. BVE’s Ebenezer range comprising a Shiraz and Cabernet Merlot are terrific value.