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McLaren Vale: in search of Pinosity

I’ve spent this last week in search of ‘Pinosity’ in South Australian warm climate reds.  So we’re not talking Pinot Noir, but principally Grenache a.k.a. “warm climate/blue collar/poor man’s Pinot”  and Syrah/Shiraz with the crunchy profile of said grape treated to Burgundian winemaking techniques – whole berry/whole bunch maceration/seasoned oak….  

Here are some pictorial highlights from my McLaren Vale visit.

Bekkers Wines

Husband and wife team Toby and Emmanuelle Bekkers made their first wines in 2011.

Note Syrah not Shiraz

Note Syrah not Shiraz

Colour tells a story: "McLaren Vale generosity of mid- palate and flavour but really conscious of turning the dial back and looking for a silky texture."

Colour tells a story: “McLaren Vale generosity of mid- palate and flavour but really conscious of turning the dial back and looking for a silky texture.”

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The dynamic duo – viticulturist & winemaker

Angove

McLaren Vale is the trail-blazer for single varietal Grenache – been there, seen that, done that & got the T-shirt at Angove.

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Organic/biodynamic cultivation at Angove Warboys Vineyard

Organic/biodynamic cultivation and cane pruning at Angove Warboys Vineyard has resulted in a leap in quality and finesse

S C Pannell

A flashy home and new cellar door for  S C Pannell.

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Lots of experimentation – mixing it up every which way in pursuit paler but distinctly interesting reds

With a menu to match

Iberian varieties a focus, with a menu to match (and then some) – pure fusion

This pure Grenache my pick of the bunch (and from a great vintage for McLaren Vale Grenache)

This pure Grenache my pick of the bunch (and from a great vintage for McLaren Vale Grenache)

Fall from Grace wine store, now wines

I first visited Gill Gordon-Smith’s Fall from Grace wine store in 2011 to taste S C Pannell’s wine prior to his recent acquisition of the cellar door (pictured above).  Its a favourite winemaker hang out with a terrific selection of local and European wines.  Gordon-Smith is about to move to bigger premises but, at least as excitingly, now proudly presides over her own wine range – loved her Mazerine 2014 – a Carignan.

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Year Wines

This new to me producer made the stand out wine at a generic McLaren Vale tasting at Fall from Grace. This 100% Grenache from teeny tiny artisanal producer Year Wines is soooo very Pinot.

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Yangarra Estate

Peter Fraser at Yangarra Estate has just been awarded Winemaker of the Year in James Halliday’s latest Wine Companion.  The wines have certainly been on a (biodynamic & slimming) journey since I first tasted the Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre several years ago.

Biodynamic cultivation: dovecotes attract the doves which attract the goshawks which keep grape eating birds at bay

Biodynamic cultivation: dovecotes attract the doves which attract the goshawks which keep grape eating birds at bay

Ceramic pot fermenters

Ceramic pot fermenters

One of 3 Grenache at Yangarra Estate

One of 3 Grenache at Yangarra Estate

Egg fermenters and seasoned oak

Egg fermenters and seasoned oak

Grenache - a great fish wine.  This gorgeous fish pie invented by Nigel Rich at The Elbow Room incorporates Yangarra Roussanne lees.

Grenache – a great fish wine. This gorgeous fish pie invented by Nigel Rich at The Elbow Room incorporates Yangarra Roussanne lees.

Ministry of Clouds

Ministry of Clouds is the label of life and business partners Julian Forwood and Bernice Ong.  The two wine marketeers’ range impressed.  Like the Bekkers’ wines, their Grenache and Shiraz have great purity and restraint.

Proud "dad" Julian Forwood with his babies

Proud “dad” Julian Forwood with his babies

Clarendon Hills

Clarendon Hills produce six single vineyard Grenache which they classify as Cru, Premier Cru and Grand Cru depending on depth and concentration – a stunning line up with great purity and finesse.

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A toast to the second generation, Alex Bratasiuk

Ochota Barrels

Fun to catch up with Amber (and second gen. Sage) Ochota at Ochota Barrels having tasted the terrific 2013s in London with Taras Ochota earlier this year (my report here).

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 What happens when an Aussie winemaker & US Rock band front man (Tool's Maynard Keenan) add a dash of Gewurtz to Grenache?  Answer: a sense of compression & a blown up amp

What happens when an Aussie winemaker & US Rock band front man (Tool’s Maynard Keenan) add a dash of Gewurtz to Grenache? Answer: a sense of compression & a blown up amp

And what happens when you add 17 botanicals to a blend of your wines?  A vermouth-inspired red to kick ass with Negroni

And what happens when you add 17 botanicals to a blend of your wines? A vermouth-inspired red to kick ass with Negroni

Jauma

James Erskine’s Grenache duo – as pretty as their labels.

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