EVERY now and then I get invited to a wine tasting that I just can’t afford to miss, no matter what other arrangements have been made.

This happened recently when Orlando wines invited a bunch of keen wine types to explore some of their new wine releases and a look back over six vintages of one of Australia’s icon wines ‘Steingarten’. We also were given a chance to see how a relatively new kid on the block was beginning to shape up, in the form of Centenary Hill Shiraz.

The opportunity to taste through six vintages of Orlando Steingarten was an interesting exercise, with my highlight being the 1996.

Little would Johann Gramp have realised when he planted the first riesling vines on his property Jacobs Creek in 1847 that he was laying the foundations for what ultimately would become one of Australia’s leading riesling wines. It was descendant Colin Gramp who actually conceived the idea of Steingarten in an attempt to imitate the great German styles. Colin Gramp introduced new winemaking techniques to Australia, including cold pressure fermentation. Steingarten is named after the vineyard of the same name situated in the Eden Valley east of the Barossa. The vineyard site was planted in 1962 on soils that had to be broken up with dynamite, thus giving the vineyard its name – Steingarten, garden of stone. These wines have only ever been made in small quantities of between 2000 and 3000 cases, depending on the vintage. The current release is the 2000, although you will still find small quantities of the 1999 in good outlets.

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