5 Minutes with Grant Burge Winemaker – Craig Stansborough

By Fergal Gleeson

When you are cruising around the Barossa there’s an awareness that you at the epicentre of Australian wine. Australia has more than 70 designated wine regions but none are more famous than Barossa. Look out the window there’s Yalumba, there’s Seppeltsfield, there’s Peter Lehman Wines, there’s Penfolds.

There’s the rich history of German speaking migrants from Silesia (now in modern Poland) and English settlers who started the industry here.

Grant Burge is from this tradition, a fifth generation winemaker who in 1988 struck out with wife Helen to make his own mark and found Grant Burge Wines which has gone on to great success.

I spoke to long term Winemaker Craig Stansborough about the new releases from Grant Burge – Holy Trinity GSM 2019, Filsell Shiraz 2019 and Nebu Cabernet Shiraz 2018.

You’re approaching your 30th anniversary at Grant Burge. How would you describe the Grant Burge style and your own approach to winemaking?

Styles evolve over time to reflect changes in consumer expectation, advances in viticulture, winemaking, and experience.

Grant Burge Wines have always had an approachability to them, we didn’t follow the ripe high alc trend that swept the Barossa and other regions through the early 2000s, balance has always been a key to our wines.

Craig Stansborough, Winemaker enjoying a glass of Filsell Shiraz

Holy Trinity is one of Australia’s most famous GSMs. Tell us about the blend in 2019 and how much it varies from year to year?

The 19 is 43% Grenache, 30% Shiraz & 27% Mataro, however we have no set % for this blend apart from being a GSM. 2019 was a warmer year in the Barossa where Grenache thrives & we can get good ripeness in Mataro, so the percentages reflect the year.

As we have no set percentage, in some years we have been as high as 55% Grenache and others almost 1/3, 1/3, 1/3. The Holy Trinity generally takes the longest time to blend as small percentage increases or decreases in the varietal mix makes a significant difference, this is very rewarding when it comes together.

Filsell is sourced from near century old Shiraz vines. How do these old vines contribute to what’s in the bottle?

These old vines play a significant part, the very deep root system and memory that tend to cope with extremes a little better, they also generally ripen more evenly giving more fruit concentration & intensity without high alcohols.

Nebu is one of the newest labels in the Grant Burge stable. What are you trying to achieve with this wine? 

Layers and complexity, these two varieties really do complement each other, we want the Cabernet to be the higher percentage to produce a fragrant textured medium to full bodied wine.

The Southern Barossa has been the source of the fruit as it offers this fragrance and elegance we are chasing; tight grain French oak adds to the structure without dominating.

What are the trends that you are observing in Barossa wine?

Probably less is more, more fruit driven wines with less oak & ripeness without losing our hallmark generosity. We have so much diversity in the Barossa that it sometimes gets overlooked.

The vineyards/soil in each part of the Barossa produce wines with their own unique stamp, as do the myriad of winemakers and their methods and beliefs. 

Where to in the future for Grant Burge Wines? 

After the last two years who knows what to expect! Very focused on vineyard and soil health, I think this is where our biggest wins will come from.

We are always trialling winemaking methods to continue to increase the interest and complexity of our wines.

Read my reviews of the new releases of Holy Trinity, Filsell and Nebu next week on the blog. More reviews and wine stories on greatwineblog on instagram and Facebook

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