Pepperjack Barossa Red

Australia’s newest, super-premium wine is making its way to the Northern Hemisphere, offering a smorgasbord of iconic flavors from Down Under.

Pepperjack, from the Barossa Valley of South Australia, comes from the cellars of Saltram Wine Estates, created to express the terroir of the region. Pepperjack Barossa Red — the first in the line to be distributed in the United States — highlights the diversity of the region’s fruit with an unusual blend of eight varietals. Winemaker Richard Mattner has fashioned a signature concoction of 78 percent Shiraz and 11.4 percent Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller additions of Merlot, Malbec and Grenache, topping it off with Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Tempranillo. After 12 months’ aging in French and American oak, this vintage is ready to drink now — or as soon as it gets to mid-Missouri wine shops early this year.

Barossa Red’s lush aroma carries fruitful scents with a hint of oak; the flavor is bursting with the taste of fresh berries, plums and vanilla. Velvety tannins give it a rounded, balanced structure and a satisfying finish. The range of varietals in this blend allows an assortment of food-friendly matchups — grilled meats, roasted vegetables, risottos, casseroles, stews, quiche, pasta sauces, even pizza and burgers.

Pepperjack’s parent winery, Saltram Wine Estates, is one of Australia’s most famous, producing grapes and wine in the Barossa Valley since 1859. Mattner’s contemporary approach and modern winemaking style is a twist on the traditional methods of Australia’s predominant wine region.

The Barossa Valley, located about 35 miles northeast of the city of Adelaide, is Australia’s oldest wine region, settled in the 1840s by German immigrants fleeing persecution in Prussian province of Silesia (modern-day Poland). The Aussies’ signature grape Shiraz thrives in the hot, continental climate; the oldest vineyards were planted in 1847 and are still producing today. Other grape varieties that grow well in Barossa are Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay, Grenache and Mourvedre. Saltram cultivates all eight varietals in Pepperjack Barossa Red in its estate vineyard near Angaston.

Pepperjack will be arriving in Columbia sometime in early 2014. Check with your favorite local wine shop for availability.

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