January Wines of the Month: New Wave McLaren Vale GSM from Aphelion & Bondar
I’ve loved Aphelion’s and Bondar’s new wave McLaren Vale Grenaches, so it’s hardly surprising that I’m excited going from A to B with their GSM too. Perhaps B to A in this case, since Rapture Grenache Shiraz Mourevdere/Mataro represents Aphelion’s “best barrels of vintage” blend, while Junto is Bondar’s “easy to drink, bistro style.”
Bondar Junto includes a splish, splash of Counoise and Carignan too. These Rhône bit part players are part of McLaren Vale’s alternative/adapted grape varietal scene, which goes from strength to strength. Take Alpha Box & Dice Dead Wine Makers Society White 2018 – like Junto, a McLaren Vale Wine Show 2020 trophy-winner. All marmalade and spice, this complex, dry, textural Muscat on steroids drank beautifully over three days.
At November’s Distinctive & Diverse Wines of McLaren Vale webinar hosted by Wine Australia (which winemaker discussion/tasting you can view here), my pick of the tasting was a fine example of Primitivo. A smart buy at Majestic, Kangarilla Road Primitivo 2018 is rich and savoury, with an Australian clarity of expression.
Returning to a more traditional McLaren Vale style (albeit in new wave guise), what about those GSMs? Here are my notes (and, just to flag, I’m on ‘satellite timing’ vintage-wise – the product of a pandemic-driven topsy turvy year).
Bondar Junto GSM 2019 (McLaren Vale)
A perky nose, think carbonic Beaujolais lift and vitality, signposts the style. This delicious, medium-bodied GSM has a translucent plum hue, bright plum and crunchy, twangy red fruit with savoury charcuterie nuances. Liquorice/anise brings lingering spicy warmth to the finish. Pithy tannins lend gentle grip, adding to the sense of energy from tip to toe. Junto 2019 is a blend of 88% old vine Grenache, 6% Shiraz, 3% Mataro 2% Counoise and 1% Cariganan. Following a gentle extraction, the wine was aged in old French oak barrels. 13.9%
Aphelion Rapture 2018 (McLaren Vale)
With Mataro (50%) to the fore and the Shiraz (12%) aged for 20 months in a brand-new Dominique Laurent French oak puncheon, this is a darker, fuller bodied GSM (or MGS to be more accurate). Richer than you might have expected from Aphelion based on their fleet of foot Grenaches, yet it retains freshness, persistence and line despite the glossy riper black fruit spectrum and Mataro’s musky, savoury leather undertones. Pimento spice, anise, sandalwood, fern and lavender add lift and layer to the juicy core of black plum and blackberry fruit. Sandpapery tannins (38% Blewitt Springs’ Grenache) and fresh acidy bring edge and definition to the whole. There’s lots going on here. Deft tension and rapport between the different elements suggests it will age well. But Aphelion Rapture 2018 is very accessible too; eminently gastronomic. The Mataro was 25% whole bunch fermented, whilst the Grenache was 100% whole bunch fermented. 14.4%