TOP TEACHER: Australia's top winemaker and local bloke Mike Hayes will lead the Apple and Grape wine masterclasses.
TOP TEACHER: Australia's top winemaker and local bloke Mike Hayes will lead the Apple and Grape wine masterclasses. File

Poised to be the best

THE Granite Belt is perfectly poised to usurp Australia's premier wine regions.

Australian Winemaker of the Year Mike Hayes knows better than most the quality being produced in our backyard and he believes in time we could stake a global claim as the best winemaking region.

"I think we are producing the best alternative wines, bar none, anywhere else in Australia,” Mr Hayes said. "Consistently wines are winning medals, but I put that down to individual growers who had the foresight to take the lead and plant different varieties, research different varieties and this links to the success with the wines.

"I really think we've probably got half a dozen varieties, without a doubt, the best in the world, not just Australia. "The Malbec coming out from here is extremely world class, Vermentino is world class, the Saperavis have just proven they are, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, many, many more.

"I think we're paying more attention to detail. I think what we're doing is expressing the vineyard quite well so winemakers are letting the fruit speak for itself rather than intervening.” With the rise of temperatures and change in our climate, Mr Hayes said we were poised to capitalise on those impacts.

"The cooler the atmosphere, the slower the ripening, slower ripening means more flavour. "The wines up here are more sophisticated and profound.

"We're talking some of these southern regions... they could have 5,6 and up to 7 degree temperature shifts and that's significant. We're right in line for being known as the best wine region. We already are up there.”

Famed wine critic James Halliday has spent a lot of time on the Granite Belt and spoken glowingly about our products, he just doesn't have as much faith as Mike.

The Border Post tried to speak with Mr Halliday but he was up to his nose in wine tasting yesterday. An assistant provided a comment on his behalf.

"Over the past 25 years, James has visited the Granite Belt on many occasions. By coincidence, he has just written an article for the Weekend Australian about the Granite Belt, and Symphony Hill in particular. "During his research for the piece he did not come across anything that would substantiate the idea that Granite Belt is 'perfectly placed to take over the country as top wine region in Australia and perhaps internationally'.

Make your own judgment at an Apple and Grape Wine Masterclass, to be hosted by Mr Hayes, between February 25 and March 4 at Stanthorpe RSL. Book at trybooking.com.

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