One of the more recent cellar doors to open is from III Associates on Foggo Road (off Kangarilla Road). They had a facility on the McLaren Vale main street that was open infrequently and when it was I never saw anybody in there. The new facility neighbors one of their vineyards so you can get some more of the “wine experience”. The wines are made by one of McLaren Vale’s most well known contract wine maker – Brian Light. The wines are mainly made from their Foggo Road vineyard (planted to Grenache and Shiraz in 1928), Blewitt Springs, McMurtrie Road (on Bay of Bisque or Cracking Black clays) and even some Sellicks Hill fruit makes an appearance.
The cellar door has an interesting twist for the chocolate lovers out their. They have a range of chocolates from Chocome. The chocolate range has quite varied and interesting flavours that when I visited in Late December 2012 the cellar door staff were reviewing different flavours to match their wines. I suspect there will be a chocolate and wine matched tasting coming soon.
The cellar door is housed in a normal house that has been splashed on the outside with their stark colour used on the Squid Ink Shiraz wine labels. All the staff are welcoming and the wine is well worth the time to check it out – so next time you are traveling from McLaren Vale to McLaren Flat make a right turn on Foggo Road and check them out.
And now for the wines…….
2011 White Ensign Chardonnay, Semillon & Pinot Gris ($20)
Straight away one could sense there has been no oak used in the making of this wine. I got very strong white pack aromas followed by citrus, pear and peach flavours. A very easy to drink wine that should be drunk cold and soon (don’t keep this one in the cellar).
2012 Sabbatical Sauvignon Blanc ($18)
For those Sauvy drinkers out there this one is sold out. Made from Blewitt Springs fruit this wine exhibits the passion fruit led tropical fruits right across the sense spectrum. The warmer climate of Blewitt Springs (compared to say Adelaide Hills) produces a different style which gravitates toward the topical flavours and not the cut grass and cats pee character of the cool climate Sauvignon Blanc’s. Again a very much drink now style that the Sauvy lovers would imbibe with on a frequent basis.
2008 Renaissance Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon & Petit Verdot ($25)
This wine is all about drink-ability. There is soft cherry and subtle french oak char here that blends into a drink now style – don’t bother to cellar this one. I can see this as a BBQ wine or an all rounder for a Chinese banquette.
2010 Backbone Grenache, Shiraz & Mourvedre ($35)
The Mourvedre was sourced from Willunga with the Grenache plus the Shiraz being sourced from the Foggo Road property and at time of tasting the wine had only been bottled for 2.5 months. Even though the wine had been recently bottled and I was unsure if the wine would have settled down after this bottling shock, I was impressed. The redness of the Grenache was prevalent across both the aromas and flavours. Two other items stuck out for me. Firstly there was a real earthyness to the wine (not dirty or gritty) that probably comes from the Mourvedre and the second was the tannin structure. There were plenty of tannins there but they were relatively soft and did not over power the fruit. Bring on the Bangers and mash with lots of onion gravy and if you were lucky I might share some of this with you.
2010 Four Score Grenache ($30)
Good McLaren Vale Grenache, like this wine brings a smile to my face. The fruit was from the Foggo Road vineyard and shows all the redness (particularly cherry and some raspberry) with some interesting white pepper spice. The tannins play a supporting role and are certainly not overpowering the red fruits. I had this with a turkey breast stir fry.
2010 The Descendent of Squid Ink Shiraz ($35)
The fruit from the McMurtrie Road vineyard was matured in older American oak (2 and 3 year old) and it shows. The plum of the Shiraz was obvious and there was some blackberry lingering about. The American oak influence showed up as coconut and vanilla seeping through on both the nose and the palate. The wine had a textural feel that almost had a viscous feel in the mouth. I would not cellar this one for long as it is balanced now.
2008 Squid Ink Shiraz ($55)
All the Squid Ink range get 18 months in new American oak before bottling. In this case the aromas were quite distinct by their absence – it took a lot of concentrating just to get some oaky character. The flavours were dominated by very ripe satsuma plums with puckering tannin and loads of oak on the finish. I considered this wine a little unbalanced and thus I am not sure it will improve with age.
2009 Squid Ink Shiraz ($55)
Certainly different to the 2008 version of the Squid Ink. The aromas showed a concentrated intensity of plums and oak char with the finish showing elegant herbs of lavender and thyme – interesting contrast. The flavours followed with the fresh plum and herb characters and there was a distinct mouth feel to this wine – almost viscous in it’s intensity. Yes there is considerable oak here but the fruit pulls it through. The cracking black soils showing the intensity that can come from grapes grown in the thick black mud.
2010 Squid Ink Shiraz ($55)
By far the best of the 3 Squid ink wines I tried here. The aromas showed off the American oak maturation with a coconut sweetness that I do enjoy mixed with the fresh plum intensity. There is definitely room for American oak use in big fruit wines – the wine has the considerable body to soak up the Americanism. That fruit character is here. This wine is a mixture of concentration and viscosity mixed of plum, fresh herbs, tannin and oak char. I suspect this wine is balanced well enough that it will age gracefully.
NV Sparkling Squid Ink Shiraz ($55)
Good sparkling Shiraz is, for me, a joy. This bottle fermented living beast is one of the good ones – a serious wine base that has the character and body of the Squid Ink wines above. It will not be for everybody but for the believers this is one to check out – I can feel turkey breast with cranberry sauce being consumed with the bottle I bought.
2010 Giant Squid Ink Shiraz ($150)
Firstly it was interesting to see a cellar door having a $150 bottle of wine open for the general wine drinking visitor. It is always a tough call on the benefit of opening such an expensive bottle as most of the cellar door visitors will not purchase this wine. However I like this move as it shows they want to show their wines and to sell their brand. The wine has spent time in both new American and then into french oak and the result is definitely one for the “Robert Parker” school of red wines. Lots of oak character but the intense Shiraz fruit is certainly not shy here either. Needs time to show it’s best and I will be interested to see how it develops.