by Rowena Collings, Emporium Hotels Reserve Cellar

The last time I was in the Granite Belt, was on February 14th. It was serendipitously Valentine’s Day, and as I contemplated my great wine adventures, I knew I was in love!

After three joyous days of wine tastings in some of the region’s best wineries. I had tasted some truly fantastic wines. For most Australians, myself included, associating Queensland with high quality wine is not a common nor easy connection to fathom. The nation’s wine lovers may even roll their eyes at the thought of producing wine in a state that is hot and humid, fearful it will leave an uninspiring drop in the glass.

As rules are made to be broken, the Granite Belt does precisely that- positioned around the town of Stanthorpe, the region has a long history of viticulture and winemaking and is actually one of the highest wine regions in Australia.

An altitude of more than 800 metres (2625 feet) on the eastern spine of the Great Dividing Range elevates the region’s wine production despite its subtropical climate. Cold to sub zero nights, spring frosts, relatively low humidity, peak summer temperatures moderated by sub-tropical monsoon influences and intermittent seasonal rainfall all contribute to the unusual climate in the Granite Belt. Soils consist of decomposed granite and are generally well drained and naturally acidic, making them ideal for wine production.

Despite the plethora of grape varieties grown in the Granite Belt I am a Chardonnay girl through and through. I love it in all its guises, from the seductive golden bubbles of Champagne to the minerality driven versions in Chablis that hit you with citrus & sea spray salt, but nothing brings me true comfort and happiness than a glass of well-balanced Chardonnay with an oak infused creaminess.

Chardonnay on its own as a grape variety is quite neutral and highly influenced by its terroir and the nurturing of the wine maker. It responds to a far wider range of wine making techniques than most varietals, making it a true expression of the collaboration of nature’s elements and man’s creativity… it’s Art! And like all art it’s subjective and changes with current fashion and trends. What was particularly surprising was that I would find my beloved Chardonnay shining in its own way in the creative hands of Andrew Scott & Glen Robert of La Petite Mort in Ballandean.

I found myself in church on the Sunday with Glen, owner and winemaker of Bent Road wines and La Petite Mort. Yes, they bought an old church and re-homed it on the property by converting it into one of the best tasting rooms I have visited. We were mesmerised by Glen and his church & winery for most of the day, and I discovered so many new things about winemaking but I also discovered their version of Chardonnay. Their focus is on balance, and it shows.

“Chablis is like a soloist in a Cathedral, singing a beautiful hymn but with one voice. To truly move you, you need an Orchestra! That’s where the other elements like careful oaking, retaining fruit, creating texture, getting the acidity balanced come into play. Once you have the elements working together you have your Orchestra”

Glen quoted

And as every orchestra needs a Conductor – that’s where Glen comes in. He is excited about the upcoming release of the 2021 La Petite Mort Chardonnay. If you can’t wait, grab a bottle of the 2019 at $35 a bottle.

Trying these Queensland beauties is a must – But make sure whatever you do, you have your glasses filled this Thursday on International Chardonnay Day!