Diversity in Style.
McLaren Vale is a leader in so many facets of winemaking including sustainability, wastewater management, organic and biodynamic viticulture and understanding geology. It is also a pioneer with alternative wine varieties, making impressive examples of Barbera, Fiano, Vermentino, Tempranillo, Nero d’Avola, Saperavi and Montepulciano. And look out for Kangarilla Road’s Savagnin and Hither & Yon’s Tanat.
It’s not just unusual varieties adding to the diversity – you’ll be pleasantly surprised by some of the wine styles being made. While McLaren Vale Shiraz is famous for its flavour, some winemakers are bringing out fresher, vibrant, early-drinking reds, some released within 12 months of picking; unheard of not that long ago. One such wine is Yangarra PF Shiraz, made from biodynamic grapes without additions of any kind such as sulphur, acid, tannin or finings.
For a vinous curve ball, visit Maxwell Wines to try its mead wines – made by fermenting honey. Thousands of customers can’t be wrong. “We saw mead sales grow very strongly in 2015 and are also recording strong growth this year,” says Jeremy Maxwell. He puts that down to “TV shows re-sparking interest in the ancient beverage along with the natural progression in the adventure to try new drinks”. Their Sparkling Mead is a cider-styled beverage that resembles a summer version of their famous Spiced Mead with hints of ginger. “It’s best served chilled or over ice with a few mint leaves or twist of lime,” Jeremy says.
Primo Estate, named McLaren Vale Cellar Door of the Year last year, produces an unusual wine called Zamberlan. “It’s Australia’s – and possibly the world’s – only Ripasso-technique Cabernet Sangiovese blend,” says marketing manager Catherine Woods. The Italian technique sees Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon pumped over the dried grape skins from the Joseph Moda.
Respected wine writer Nick Ryan says it’s hard to think of another wine region with the vinous versatility of McLaren Vale. “It has an innate ability to do a lot of things well. Shiraz is the obvious strength, but I’m also set solid in my belief that the best Grenache in the country grows in McLaren Vale dirt,” he says.
“If we ever get to the point where we truly appreciate just how good we’ve got it with Grenache, it will be McLaren Vale that leads us there. It is the region that will put us in a Mediterranean frame of mind, not just with all those olives and almonds, but with the varieties that thrive on those distant shores. McLaren Vale has enthusiastically embraced the alternative, and it’s a far more interesting and exciting place for having done so. It’s become a really thoughtful place, too. They recognised their good fortune in having Irina Santiago-Brown in their midst and turned ‘sustainability’ into something more substantial than just a buzzword with the industry-leading Sustainable Australia Winegrowing program.”
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