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McLaren Vale Wine – Ducks in a Row


Ducks in a Row Cellar Door

There is a relatively new cellar door in town near Port Willunga just off South Road.  If you are in the area on a weekend between 12 and 4 then I would suggest this is one to check out.  Ducks in a Row comes from the stylings of Glen and Amanda Pritchard and their enthusiastic dog Roger.  Glen is a very experienced winemaker who has worked in senior roles for the big guys in the industry and he has taken the opportunity to make his own wine from little known or alternate varieties and to let the wines speak for themselves instead of using massive amounts of oak character.  Amanda markets the wines and is involved with a number of wine and food initiatives.

The Ducks in a Row branding comes from a painting by Mirka Mora with parts of this painting being used on each of the wine labels (other than the Pandora).

Their cellar door is rustic and has a charm that makes me want to sit down and just talk about stuff for hours (which, if my memory is correct, I probably did on my visit).

Now the wines……..

2012 Vermentino ($25)

Mainly from Heathcote (Victoria) grapes and made in McLaren Vale.  The wine screams stone fruit from the glass even before it gets anywhere near ones nose.  The flavours are soft and subtle with a really interesting textural feel.  The texture probably comes from the natural ferment being kept on solids for an extended period of time.  This textual feel gives a weight to the wines finish – more than the “flavours”.  The structure of the wine screams out for food and can think of nothing better than scallops or oysters,

2011 Fiano ($25)

The Heathcote connection continues with the Fiano.  The grapes were naturally fermented and the wine spend 12 months sitting on the less.  No oak was used in the making so the wine spent the 12 months in stainless steel vats.  Another interesting point was the wine had no sulphur compounds added until bottling.  I find this wine so different again to main stream.  The wine is almost oily to start with and has a really impressive acid backbone.  Not a fruit driven wine I get basil and pine nut notes.  Again the food wine and the oiliness leads me towards char grilled sardines – my mouth is watering just thinking about this combination.

Ducks in a Row Pandora’s Amphora

2011 Pandora’s Amphora ($80)

Heathcote fruit again – a mixture of Vermentino, Fiano, Moscato Giallo all co-fermented naturally in a single amphora.  The Amphora is a clay vessel that has been traditionally used in some Italian wineries and seems to be making a surge in interest here.  I do not know if the Amphora makes a difference in the wine product, but at the very least is sounds good.  This wine was not tasted and the was just over 500 bottles produced.

Ducks in a Row red wines

2011 Nero D’Avola ($25)

Described by Glen (winemaker) as this wine is like “Pinot on steroids”.  The wine has only seen large old oak and spent considerable time on skins and lees – all in the name of complexity.  The theme here is to let the grapes do the talking as the wood plays such a minor part.  Interestingly the wine was served, on a mild day, slightly chilled.  The dark cherry fruits abound but there is a dried herb background to provide a savory wine with good clean acid but the textural feel to the wine makes the interest.  Only the second wine of this variety I have tried but I look forward to more.  Again a food wine – maybe with char grilled octopus.

2011 Temranillo Graciano Mataro ($25)

All McLaren Vale fruit with the Tempranillo (40%) from Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards, the Graciano (40%) from Battle of Bosworth and the Mataro (10%) from a grower in Willunga.  This wine has seen no new oak so again it is all about the grapes.  Redness comes from all over the place here – initially red currents and then into cherries.  I also get the distinct hint of cloves.  There is plenty of structure here which I suspect comes from the addition of the Mataro.  I would like to drink this with a food that has flavour as well as texture to match – maybe some chorizo sausages.

2010 Straight Up Mataro ($25)

From a vineyard near Willunga (in the McLaren Vale region) and was matured in 7 year old oak.  Again the wine making direction to show off the fruit and not just load it up with obvious oak tannins.  I get vanilla plums (maybe a plum stored in a jar with a vanilla bean) but there is also a hint of blue character that is most intriguing.  The grape tannins work to provide a well structured wine that has length on it’s side.  I am going to keep a few bottles to see how this wine will age.

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