2021 vintage report Purple Hands Wines from the Barossa

2021 vintage report Purple Hands Wines from the Barossa

Growing Conditions

The 2021 Barossa Valley vintage is shaping up to be a one of the classics, with very high quality and good yields.

To understand why the quality is extremely promising, we must look at the critical points within the growing season.

The season started with an average winter rainfall, although July was drier. Above average rainfall through August, September and October resulted in very good subsoil moisture setting up healthy vines.

The Barossa experienced welcomed rainfall in January, however this was more prominent in the Southern Barossa. More widespread rainfall was experienced over the first weekend in February keeping the vines and canopy very healthy.

One of the key drivers for the high quality was temperature or lack of it. Generally, the temperatures were below average apart from November which was slightly above average.

We experienced very mild conditions through December, January, February and March with only two days over 40C.

I cannot remember a milder Summer in recent years – Craig Stansborough

The most exciting outcome of the vintage is the quality across every variety. Flavours came early with canopy health and berry integrity the best we have seen in many years.

Pinot Blanc

We kicked off the season on the 2 February with the Pinot Blanc, this looks exceptional with pristine aromatics and great natural acidity.


The first of our Shiraz was harvested two weeks later on the 18 February, as noted the lack of hot weather and regular rainfall was very very kind to all red varieties, we have great colour, varietal definition and ripe tannin. Shiraz has great purity, ripe tannins and lovely persistence, reminds us a little of 2018 but with even better flavours.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The Planta Circa Cabernet Sauvignon looks exceptional, it has it all, great colour, varietal aromatics and flavours, it potentially could be the best yet.


Grenache also has performed well and probably benefited from poor set keeping crop levels under control, they also have nice colour and great aromatic with good flesh.

Italian Varieties

The Italian varieties look brilliant, hard to choose a favourite! Aglianico and Montepulciano have wonderful fruit intensity, but more pleasing are the tannins that these varieties display, extremely exciting! We also crushed a small amount of Primitivo for the first time, very happy with results so watch this space.

Pinot Gris – Adelaide Hills

A quick note on the only non-Barossa wine we make, the 2021 Adelaide Hills Colours of the South Pinot Gris.

The Hills had a similar growing season to the Barossa with a touch more rainfall & like the Barossa a cooler than average conditions. This has resulted in one of the best Gris’s we have made, fantastic fruit that jumps out of the glass, great mouthfeel and lovely natural acidity. We are planning to bottle late May & cannot wait to get this wine out to our Pinot Gris fans.


Mataro finished the season and was harvested on the 19 April, touch early to call the quality but like the rest it does look very promising.

Mark & Craig


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2020 vintage report Purple Hands Wines from the Barossa

2020 vintage report Purple Hands Wines from the Barossa

2020 Vintage Report – Barossa

Growing season

The growing season rainfall was disappointing to say the least, one of the driest calendar years on record, around 50% down on average rainfall, whatever average is anymore?! We had less than 20mm through October 19 to January 2020, this was quite hard on the vines given the hot late November and December, at least disease pressure was low.

Bunch and berry size was well down due to the lack of water and this had a major effect on crop levels. On the positive side the weather from mid-January onwards was ideal and combined with welcome rain (34mm) on the 1st February provided some optimism for quality. This mild late summer early autumn did allow for nice even ripening so flavours from 2020 are not an issue.


The 2020 harvest began on the 14th February with Barossa Pinot Blanc, yes Pinot Blanc, stay tuned. The reds kicked off on the 26th February with Shiraz from the Stansborough vineyard, and the 2020 crush was completed on the 31st March. As always the Aglianico was the last off the vines and into the crusher, it just loves to hang there and wait.

Yields and Quality

Our crop levels were on average well down and the lowest we have seen for many many years. Shiraz was less than 1.5 tonne per/ha, with Aglianico and Grenache not a lot better, the Montepulciano was the yielding star at 6 tonne per/ha.

Our first crack at Pinot Blanc looks promising, hand picked and whole bunch direct to older French oak, loads of fruit and texture, the plan is to bottle late June, stay tuned.

Shiraz, what we have of it, looks pretty slick, good colour, flavour and length with plenty of life. The Planta Circa Cabernet Sauvignon, all two barrels, looks amazing. Cabernet generally does not normally excel in warm dry conditions, but these super old vines tend to cope with the dry warm condition, it did really benefit from the early February rain and the cool conditions through late January and February. The wine is sitting in barrel and has finished malo, a modest 13.5% Alcohol which is pleasing.

Grenache looks very smart, the warm dry conditions do suit this variety, even though our volumes are small we are confidant we will bottle all three of our Grenache labels, however it is early days! Nice colour, pretty fruit and depth of flavour, always a joy to make this variety.

The three Italian varietals, Montepulciano, Aglianico and NegroAmaro all performed brilliantly, a little like the Grenache these varieties tend to laugh at the hot dry conditions showing they have a very bright future in the Barossa. We did manage to co ferment the NegroAmaro and Montepulciano together in an open fermenter, the synergy this gives is brilliant, exciting for another very smart Colours Of the South Rosso in a few years.

Maybe the highlight of the year is the Montepulciano , great colour, amazing fruit aromas with ripe tannin and great length all with modest alcohol, can’t wait to see this wine develop of the next decade, just need to get it into bottle first. Aglianico is just as exciting, as the vines mature the wines just seem to be gaining more depth and complexity, just wish we had more. Looking forward to blend the Serata, after the success of the 17 & 18 vintages, the 20 vintage should be just as interesting, however volumes will be tiny, common theme with 2020.

Last but not least is Mataro, another variety that needs the warm conditions, this late ripening variety was able to achieve good flavour ripeness and shows typical earth and spice and will work so well with the Grenache and Shiraz that will find its way into the blend.

In summary, the 2020 vintage will be one to remember, no rain, very little fruit, terrible bushfires in the nearby Adelaide Hills topped off by a very nasty virus! However, we got through it and the wines are all pressed out and tucked away in barrel so we can finally sleep at night. Early days but 2020 will prove to be a particularly good year for quality not so good for volume. We will keep you posted.

Craig & Mark


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Our Award-Winning ‘Serata’ Inspired by the Super Tuscan Wine Scene

Our Award-Winning ‘Serata’ Inspired by the Super Tuscan Wine Scene

Creativity & Winemaking

If you’re an international wine enthusiast, you may already be familiar with names like Sassicaia and Tignanello, as well as the term ‘Super Tuscan’, which was first coined almost 50 years ago.

It was then that a number of Italian trailblazers sparked a modern wine revolution, when they began mixing ‘unsanctioned’ wine varieties such as Merlot into their blends, leaving them outside the Italian DOC/DOCG regulations. And yet, these blends were considered to be high quality and commanded high prices.

In essence, these Italian wines came as a result of the frustration that winemakers in Tuscany had towards the bureaucracy who were slow to change the wine laws of Italy during the 1970’s.

In 1992, the legal system eventually yielded with the creation of the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) classification of Toscana, a new designation that gave winemakers the ability to be more creative. Today, Tuscany has five sub-categories of IGT wines.

What Does a Super Tuscan Taste Like?

What makes a ‘Super Tuscan’ wine different from other Tuscan wines, such as Chianti, is the use of wine grapes that are not indigenous to Italy. Particularly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (Shiraz).

Although a large number of wines claim to be ‘The First Super Tuscan’, most would agree that this credit belongs to Sassicaia, the brainchild of marchese – Mario Incisa della Rocchetta.

He first planted Cabernet Sauvignon at his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri back in 1944, and for many years it was the marchese’s personal wine, until the 1968 vintage was released commercially in 1971.

Because Super Tuscan wines are blends of indigenous and non-indigenous grape varieties, there is no specific flavour profile or structure.

You can find everything from fruity and racy Sangiovese based wines to deep, opulent Syrah-based wines. What ties them together is the use of the Toscana IGT classification and this notation will always be on the label.

Introducing our own unique blend of Italian and traditional Barossa varieties : ‘After Five Wine Co. – Serata’
In 2011, we decided to plant two southern Italian grape varieties – Montepulciano and Aglianico – in our southern Barossa vineyard.

Part of the reasoning was their ability to thrive in warm dry climates, but there was also the idea to bring to life a unique blend of Shiraz, Montepulciano and Aglianico.

Fast forward to today and we have successfully produced our very own blend with elegance, texture and intrigue. The single vineyard blend – ‘After Five Wine Co. Serata’.

Serata is not a grape variety but rather an Italian word that loosely translates to “have a pleasant evening get together with friends”.

We chose this name reflect its Italian roots, but also as a play on words. Our After Five Co. range is prefect for evening drinking and we’ve blended the Italian and Shiraz varieties – the friends.

Serata has Already Made an Impression

Since the first release of our After Five Wine Co. Serata in 2016, this wine has been well received and been awarded strong ratings and gold medals.

We were also honoured that this single vineyard blend was awarded a prestigious trophy at the 2019 Barossa Wine Show, with our ‘2018 After Five Wine Co. Serata’ being selected from 829 entries to go into the Barossa Cellar.

Our current vintage also received a gold medal at the Barossa Wine Show and was rated highly with James Halliday:

2017 After Five Wine Co. Serata

“Shiraz, Aglianico and Montepulciano, made and matured separately for 17 months prior to blending. All French oak, mostly older. The juicy plumminess of shiraz is evident, but the savoury red cherry character likely coming from its partners. More pertinent is that the blend has worked well, providing a seamless mouthfeel with length and depth of flavour.”

James Halliday Wine Companion - 95 points

Serata tasting notes: intriguing, complex and bold

We think the combination of the Australian and Italian varieties provides a striking and stylish wine.

The Montepulciano and Aglianico deliver complexity, structure and length, making a perfect foil when blended with Shiraz.

Serata has aromas of cherry, rose, liquorice and strawberry. You’ll be intrigued by the palate which shows the depth and body of the Shiraz, along with cherry flavours from the Montepulciano, and the Aglianico provides rose hints and fine long tannin and welcome natural acidity.

Perfect food pairing with After Five Wine Co. Serata

Hearty meats like roasted pork, spicy sausages or grilled steak are all excellent pairings for this complex dry wine.

It can also be served alongside filling seafood dishes like a meaty grilled swordfish steak, or alongside starters such as bold aged cheddar or a rich bruschetta with olive oil and rosemary.

For those who love the simple things in life, Serata is perfect match with meat lover’s pizza.

A last note: now it’s time to taste!

We are lovers of blends that bring to life something that is both unique and different from any of the single varietals that go into the wine.

It is our hope that you continue to enjoy your wine journey and experiment with this amazing blend. It is little bit different, but we are confident you will be rewarded for your intrigue.

 If you’ve already tried our Serata, we’d love to hear from you!


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2019 Vintage Report for Purple Hands Wines

2019 Vintage Report for Purple Hands Wines

Growing Conditions

The Barossa experienced a very dry winter and spring, causing some concern amongst vignerons and winemakers alike.

Coupled with the ‘pleasure’ of a hail storm hitting some of our vineyards on 22 November 2018, and the hot dry conditions through January and February 2019 – made it another vintage of extremes!

Apart from our Montepulciano, Vintage 2019 will prove to be our lowest-yielding Barossa harvest since 2009.
The 2019 harvest started with picking our older Shiraz on the 25 February 2019 and was completed with the Aglianico on the 4 of April 2019.


Given the difficult weather conditions, we are quite excited about what we have made from the 2019 vintage. Shiraz which received the brunt of the hailstorm, combined with the warm and dry growing conditions, gave very light crops and small berries. However, this did result in good colour intensity, depth and varietal definition – promising even at this early stage.


The Ancestor Vine Cabernet has loads of depth and flavour, quite surprising given the conditions.


Grenache is very impressive. The dry warm conditions are perfect for this variety. This is a favoured variety with us here at Purple Hands and all three Grenache wines we make will shine from the 2019 vintage.

Yes, you read that right – three Grenache wines… stay tuned!

Italian Varietals

Maybe the stars of the vintage are the three Italian varietals, Montepulciano, Aglianico & Negroamaro. These varieties seem to cope with most weather conditions that Mother Nature throws at them. Their colour, depth, varietal definition and wonderful tannin has us very excited. We will definitely be botting Aglianico & Montepulciano as single vineyard varietals, but it should also be a joy blending the Serata.

The Negroamaro is also interesting, offering such distinctive flavours. It will be part of a brand new wine, so watch out for something exciting very very soon.


Mataro is another variety that loved the weather conditions. This generally late ripening variety was able to achieve very good phenolic ripeness. Something not always achieved in this variety. This in turn allowed for longer maceration on skins, as well as the addition of some whole clusters in the ferment which we have never tried this before. We have received some interesting results. Could be a chance of a single release. The last one was the fabulous 2015 vintage which was another warmer vintage.

To summarise

A tough year in terms of crop levels, but the quality is very is smart. We will update everybody later in the year and let you know how the wines from 2019 are progressing.

Mark & Craig


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Montepulciano: The complete guide to our Award-Winning Red

Montepulciano: The complete guide to our Award-Winning Red

Get ready to explore this exciting, new Barossa varietal.

If you love talking about new varietals in Australia and are looking to explore interesting wines that are different, this guide to Montepulciano and what food to match it with is perfect for you.

Montepulciano is Italy’s second most widely planted variety (after Sangiovese) and is found over much of Central and Southern Italy.

We planted the rustic, full-bodied variety in our Southern Barossa vineyard in 2011 amidst great anticipation, with our first vintage bottled in 2015.

We are proud to announce that our Purple Hands Wines 2016 Barossa Valley Montepulciano was awarded a bronze medal at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in 2018 and recently received 96 points from Wine Showcase Magazine and 93 points from Patrick Eckel.

Not all Montepulciano are what they appear!

But first of all, let’s clear up some confusion about ‘Monte’, as it’s come to be known in Australia.

Yes, Montepulciano is both a grape variety and a medieval town in Tuscany, but interestingly, the two are not related!

You have Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which is the wine made from Montepulciano grapes. Not to be confused with the Tuscan wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is made from predominantly Sangiovese grapes and is named after the village it is produced in.

Pronounced Mon Ta Pull Chee Ah No, this grape variety was named after the Tuscan parish of Montepulciano.  

The most famous Montepulciano wines come from the east coast of Italy, specifically the Abruzzo region. Here, Montepulciano grapes are planted on the low hills and flatlands around the Adriatic coast, and marketed under the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC title.

Montepulciano and the Barossa make a stunning match

Montepulciano is still relatively unknown in Australia, yet is fast growing in popularity with our discerning wine drinkers. But, you may be wondering why it has found its way to the beautiful Barossa Valley in South Australia.

It’s all about climate. This particular red variety thrives in warm dry climates and ripens late in the season, holding it’s natural acid and handling the heat well.  It is not suitable for the cooler northern regions of its home country, Italy, and hence why it is planted in the southern regions of Italy.

So you can see, this is exactly why it’s found its way to the southern Barossa and our Purple Hands Wines vineyard, a warm dry region, and has become an award-winning member of our premium, boutique range.

Montepulciano tasting notes: smooth, rich & intense

Montepulciano wines are characterised by rich layers of black cherry, black pepper and dark plum.

Compared to most Italian varieties, Montepulciano has moderately low acidity and milder tannins.  This grape produces smooth drinkable wines with good acidity, and soft silky tannins that fill the mouth and help it age over 4 -5 years in the bottle.

Montepulciano has a tendency to ripen late in the season in our Southern Barossa vineyard – in mid to late April. It is a high yielding grape variety which leads us to thin the crop each year to achieve the ultimate balance on ripeness, flavour and yields.

The grapes are large and plump with a low skin to juice ratio. However, the skin has a fair amount of pigmented tannins and colour producing phenols that with gentle skin contact during fermentation produce a deep ruby red colour.

Perfect food pairing with Montepulciano

Medium-bodied red wines like Montepulciano generally pair with a wide variety of foods due to their natural elevated acidity and tannin structures.

But Montepulciano is the perfect match to richer and more savoury foods.

Imagine how the rich flavour of the wine will cut through some of the meatiest meats and pair beautifully with caramelised, roasted winter vegetables.

Meat lovers will love to pair it with roasted pork shoulder, beef Bolognese, barbequed beef brisket, braised goat, shepherd’s pie and meat lover’s pizza.

Cheese matches included aged Cheddar, Parmesan, Asiago and Pepper Jack.

For those looking for a vegetarian match, try stuffed baked potato, black bean burgers, roasted mushrooms, pinto beans, wild rice, winter beets, winter farro and sunchokes.

A last note: now it’s time to taste!

If you are intrigued by alternate varieties, and pursue wines that are quite different, we encourage you to sample our 2018 After Five Wine Co. Single Vineayrd Montepulciano and enjoy a modern Australian take on this famous Italian variety.

We’ll leave you with a quote that beautifully summaries how our Montepulciano will excite your nose and liven your palate.

A striking young Italian variety finding a home in the Barossa Valley, and what’s not to like? It strikes a dramatic dense purple pose in the glass, the scent is pure La Dolce Vita with exotic spice, black cherry and enduring anise. It flows beautifully across the tongue, smooth, intense but with lively tannins.

Jenny Port

95 points, Halliday Wine Companion

Have you tried Montepulciano? We’d love to know your thoughts on this premium and striking red.


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