South Burnett Wine - Your Online Guide To Queensland's New Wine Region
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Verdelho grapes Verdelho
Verdelho (pronounced "ver-del-oh") is a white wine grape that grows particularly well in the South Burnett.

Most South Burnett vineyards now produce verdelhos and verdelho blends. All of them have the distinctive tropical flavours and aromas that come from wam- climate production.

South Burnett verdelhos have won many state and national wine show medals over the last decade, and they've begun to be perceived as one of the region's "signature" wines.

But if you're unfamiliar with this variety, this page will background you very quickly:

 

Origins Of Verdelho
The origins of verdelho are unclear - some suspect it originally came from Sicily - but it's known to have been planted on the Madeira islands off Morocco in North Africa since the 15th century where it's been used to produce fortified wines ever since (principally Madeira and white port).

It's also grown in the Douro Valley in Portugal (where it's known as Gouveio and used to produce a white port); in the Galicia region of Spain; and in the Anjou region of France's Loire Valley. Some verdelho is also grown in Argentina.

In Australia, the first plantings were thought to have been made by John Macarthur and his sons at Camden Park near Penrith, southwest of Sydney, in the 1820s.

Today, though, the biggest plantings are in the Hunter Valley in NSW; Langhorne Creek in South Australia; and the warmer parts of the Swan Valley in Western Australia. In 2001 these three regions harvested around 10,000 tonnes between them.

In Queensland, the biggest plantings are in the South Burnett but some verdelho is also grown in the Granite Belt.

 

Viticulture
Verdelho is a moderately vigorous vine that produces tight bunches of small oval berries with a high skin-to-juice ratio. The skins can be thick and taste "hard" when eaten.

The grapes ripen early (in the South Burnett, usually around late December to early January). The vines are susceptible to powdery mildew and can also be susceptible to Spring frosts.

 

Qualities Of Verdelho
Verdelho is known for its high acidity when aged, but if it's drunk young it usually possesses strong fruit flavors. Most verdelhos are usually consumed within two years of vintage and the wine is very reasonably priced (usually in the $10 to $20 per bottle range).

Australian versions of verdelho are noted for their intense flavors. The wine is usually aromatic and high in alcohol. There's also a surprising amount of flavor variation between the States.

  • Swan Valley verdelhos are usually fresh and fruity, sometimes with a honeysuckle vein
  • Langhorne Creek verdelhos have a soft and flavoursome palate with tropical flavours such as pineapple and guava
  • Hunter Valley verdelhos are generally spicy (on both the nose and palate)
  • South Burnett verdelhos have tropical notes of pineapple, melon, tropical fruits, guava, honeysuckle and fruit salad.

In general, the cooler the climate the more herbaceous, grassy and spicy the wine is while warm-climate verdelhos have more tropical flavours and aromas. If the variety is picked early it will exhibit more citrus and herbaceous elements, while rich fruit flavours will be dominant if it's picked late.

Recently some South Burnett winemakers have noticed that while verdelhos usually degrade very rapidly two years after vintage and become acidic, some verdelhos have the capacity to "come back" after five years (in much the same way that semillon does) and produce a very fine wine indeed. So experiments are now being conducted to see if this process can be reliably replicated.

 

Verdelho goes very well with Asian foods How To Enjoy Verdelho
Verdelho is best served chilled (particularly in warm climates) and it goes particularly well with with meals that include salads, seafood and light meats such as chicken, pork and veal.

The spicy, cool climate styles go well with pesto and roasted vegetables while the sweeter,warm-climate styles work surprisingly well with Asian meals.

Verdelho can also be enjoyed on its own or with light accompaniments such as tapas or appetisers.

Verdelho is a very good alternative for anyone looking for something different to chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.

And while some wine critics argue that verdelho will never be a "great wine", the growth in popularity of this variety in recent years is undeniable. Some attribute this to the fact that verdelho is a very straight-forward wine that smells and tastes like it's made from grapes.

Most verdelho is produced as a straight variety but popular verdelho blends include semillon, sauvignon blanc, chenin blanc and chardonnay.

 

South Burnett Verdelho
Verdelho is widely grown in the South Burnett and you can obtain verdelhos from the following wineries and cellar doors:

Note: Most new-season verdelhos are released in the South Burnett from May onwards. So if you want the freshest possible verdelho, contact your favourite winery for advice on when they'll be releasing their next vintage.

 

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