Why does James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia single out Coonawarra's terra rossa as 'the most celebrated vineyard soil in Australia'? Sarah Ahmed investigates...

  • Scroll down for our top picks under £30

Connawarra reds are synonymous with elegant and minty Cabernet, as well as rich-yet-balanced Cabernet-Shiraz blends.

About 20km long and just 1km wide, this area of shallow, rust-red clay loam on calcrete is intensively planted to Cabernet Sauvignon.

This cigar-shaped strip of terra rossa rise is to Coonawarra what Médoc’s gravel rises are to Bordeaux. Both are a marriage made in heaven for the grape that ‘doesn’t like to get its feet wet’.

Coonawarra also comprises some lower-lying sand and deeper, heavier clay. But it is the porous nature of the ‘cigar’ that consistently produces the finest quality grapes by allowing the roots to eke out moisture and nutrients.

Peter Barry, of Jim Barry Wines, said that Coonawarra’s cool climate ‘results in a much longer ripening season…which in turn produces excellent fruit flavours and unique tannin structure’.

Although there is a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon planted here, Coonawarra is also producing some excellent quality wines with other varietals such as Shiraz and Merlot. Some of the region’s most celebrated wines are blends.

Our top Coonawarra reds under £30

  • Read the full article in the September 2016 issue of Decanter magazine

Click here to subscribe