Category Archives: Wine

McLaren Vale Wine – Genders Wines

For a number of years I have been unashamedly a fan of Genders Wines in McLaren Vale.  The whole of the vineyard and winery work is undertaken by the one and only Dianna Genders.  When one finds out about her heritage you just know there is McLaren Vale wine flowing through her veins.  On her mothers side there is the Pridmore line – the first female winemaker in the Vale.  Her father planted grapes and a few wonderful King Charles Oaks on the property next to the McLaren Vale sports grounds.  One of the vine clones is just known as the “Genders Shiraz Clone”.  Dianna’s father was somewhat of an innovator where he introduced the first tractor into the vineyards (instead of horses) and the first mechanical pruner to do most of the pruning work.  From the outside the winery looks like it was deserted and run down.  A number of people indicate they did not even know there is a winery there.

Dianna’s wine making philosophy looks toward keeping small volumes of grapes separate in the winery to allow maximum opportunity for blending options. As Dianna does all the vineyard work she understands every vine on the property.  There is 3 varieties planted – Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The grapes are not crushed but de-stemmed.  The winery also has the first 2 prototypes of the Potter Fermenters, so there is a sense of history here as well.

Genders De-stemmer

If you cannot find these wines but are interested then I suggest you check out the Taste McLaren Vale web site (www.tastemclarenvale.com.au) as we usually deal with these wines.

2008 Genders Chardonnay ($A20)

At 12% alcohol, the use of french oak and wild yeast ferments, this is not your normal McLaren Vale Chardonnay.  In fact it is more like a White Burgundy!  The aromas are strongly based on quince and lemon rind when you first fill the cold liquid.  As the wine warms the presence of green apples and creamy melons comes through.  The flavors are not the usual fruit based you expect from Aussie Chardy.  There is a creamy texture to the wine that compliments the crisp apples and lemon rind.  The whole experience leaves almost a nutty after taste that lingers and lingers.  If more Chardonnay was made like this then there would be less of a Chardonnay wine glut.

2005 Shiraz ($A40)

This wine is made from the Genders Clone Shiraz that exists on just 13 rows.  I have seen this wine a few times and I continue to bask in it’s difference.  The aromas are almost black and blue.  The black from dark berries and the blueness from flowers maybe Violets.  Combined with hints of smokiness and dustiness from the oak.  The flavours mirror the aromas with the black and blue tinges.  The acid levels are spot on so the palate is cleansed with each mouthful.  The lasting impression I take from this wine is the tannins.  There is a strength but elegance to these tannins that just make me wonder how well this wine will be in another 5+ years.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon ($50)

We were fortunate to taste this wine before it is released or even labelled.  The blackcurrent is evident with all the florals and blueness that seems to come from the vineyard.  As the wine develops in the glass, and believe me the hour the wine needs to open up is worth every minute, menthol’s and eucalyptus tones develop.  The flavours follow the same path.  The blackcurrent fruits with blue edges and the interestingly strong but elegant tannins that comes from the smart use of oak – both new and old wood has seen this wine.  When this wine is released later this year I suggest you find where to get some.

McLaren Vale Wine – Alternative Varieties

In the last week I have been party to a Facebook conversation about the waste of time these alternate varieties are and then another wine blog indicating some pros and cons about these varieties.  Finally a couple of weeks ago I heard a McLaren Vale winemaker discussing their rational behind trying these varieties.  Well I thought I could weigh in on the discussion.

As we know the colonisation of Australia was European and a fellow named James Busby planted the first vines.  By this association the vines grown in Australia were initially European.  Some of the first wines made in Australia were sent back to the “Mother Country” so to show off what the new colony could do.  All of these would lead to a very European bent.  Thus the Cabernet, Shiraz, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines were dominant.  With fortified wine being popular (potentially due to the effect of the high alcohol) then varieties such as Grenache, Sultana and Mataro were very useful.

Blewitt Springs Grenache

If we use the examples of the French and German wine fraternity – they are smart people who have a set of rules for a reason.  Over many centuries they have been able to work out what grapes work better in which regions and over these centuries this knowledge has transformed into law.

In Australia we pride ourselves on our forward thinking about wine however until recently we have really constrained by what we thought were the best varieties – but how do we know?  Until relatively recently we would grow Pinot Noir and Riesling in McLaren Vale but now (apart from a couple of exceptions) we understand that these varieties are not really suitable here and other varieties have been planted.

If we look at the Riverland regions where it has historically taken many litres of water to make a litre of wine.  Even in McLaren Vale, conventional viticulture for Chardonnay requires significant watering to ensure profitable cropping and even just to keep the vines alive.  if we consider our climate temperatures to be increasing the amount of water it takes to produce such wines will only increase.  I ask then if we could find wine grape varieties that can make good wine with less water then would this not make sense?

I believe the winemaker justifies their expertise partially comes from understanding the best time to pick the grapes.  There is a 3 way struggle during vintage to get the right balance between the sugar level, acid level and the fruit flavor.  Leave the grapes on the vine too long to achieve the ripe flavors will cause elevated sugar (which leads to high alcohol) and low acid.  All 3 are interlinked.  Different varieties have different rates of these changes – particularly the acid and sugar balance.  Hotter climates should have grapes that for the same sugar level has higher acid levels.  Also in hotter climates it would be advantageous to be able to produce economic levels of grape production with minimal watering.  In relatively hot wine regions such as McLaren Vale and Barossa then grapes grown in say Spain and Italy could be better suited than the usual European grapes.  Thus wineries are experimenting with grape varieties such as Fiano, Savagnin, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.  Some wineries have been working with these varieties for longer than others – Coriole from  McLaren Vale has just released their 21st consecutive vintage of Sangiovese, so for them it is a mainstream wine.

Anyway this is the view of one wine tragic and I welcome seeing your views…….

McLaren Vale Wines – Samuels Gorge

Samuels Gorge is one of my favorite places to visit in McLaren Vale.  The wines have a sense of difference, the people are wonderful and the facility has lots and lots of old world charm.   The atmosphere in this place is great.  The locals wine industry people go there for a drink in the afternoon (it helps being one of the last cellar doors open) so you know it has a certain charm.  The 100 year old building contains a number of old world contraptions including an olive press.  The driveway to the property has some very old olive trees.

Samuels Gorge Winery & Cellar Door

Samuels Gorge Verandah and Surrounds

Samuels Gorge Tasting Area

The gardens and covered area overlooks the Onkaparinga National Park, so even the views are just worth being there.

The winemaker, Justin, is also one of a kind.  Having worked in many wineries he not only settled in McLaren Vale he has the ability to do his own thing.  Cannot get much better than that.

The grapes for these excellent wines come from selected low yielding vineyards from Blewitt Springs through to Aldinga Beach.  Only wines with the correct character and quality make the Samuels Gorge labeled wines.  At times they release cleanskins that have to date been great value and exceptional quality for a cleanskin.

Each Easter there is a new release day where the wines are formally released to the public.  This event is one to put on your wine calendar.  They usually have food served and generous wine samples poured.  I try to be there every Easter.

Currently, the white wines are sold out.  Justin’s philosophy about wine tells him that white wine is not really suited to McLaren Vale, so he has decided to look further afield.  Most people would look towards Adelaide Hills – bit not Justin.  He likes the whites from Tasmania so why not.  The last few years he had made a Riesling and a Gewurtztraminer (not a sweet one).  They also produce a Sparkling Shiraz in very limited quantities ($A50/bottle) that has to date been sensational.  I look forward to their next release in the next month.

Now for the wines………..

2009 Cadensia Grenache ($A35)

From Blewitt Springs vineyards this wine continues to impress (as had the previous vintages).  When done well, McLaren Vale Grenache is just such a wonderful wine and it is my favorite variety.  The grape has a bad wrap and wines such as this are a hard sell.  It is interesting that when people try this at the cellar door they usual like it and make a purchase.  This is a beauty – aromas of juicy red fruits with a hint of blackness.  There is subtle spices and some floral notes.  The flavors back up the smells – with red cherries and plums in an envelope of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon.

2010 Tempranillo ($A35)

From the homestead block and the juicyness continues.  Lots and lots of cherries with a little barnyard stink.  There is a minerallity with a chalkiness and really chewy tannins.  Quite an impressive wine from a variety that seems to me moving from alternative to more main stream.  Well worth checking out.

2010 Shiraz ($A35)

This wine is so popular they have had to release the 2010 vintage well ahead of schedule (a couple of weeks ago).  It has just been bottled and released now instead of waiting for the normal Easter weekend release.  Even though the wine needs time to settle down and would be suffering from bottling shock, you can see the pedigree.  There is the Shiraz plum here with dusty mouth drying tannins and a concentration that  provides an interesting mouthfeel.  This will be great by Easter.

2010 Mourvedre

Barrel sample that will released around Easter this year.  There is a sense of floral, meaty earthiness that is Mourvedre.  Lets just say that I look forward to the Easter release.

McLaren Vale Wine – Gemtree Vineyards and DeadRed Wine Group Capricorn Tour

The DeadRed Wine Group through it’s founder, Charlie-Helen Robinson, conducted a wine tour to our beloved McLaren Vale.  The tour was titled –  Capricorn.  This elaborate method to celebrate ones birthday is a sensational idea and it turned out to be a sensational way to spend the most part of the day.  A bus ride to and from McLaren Vale with time spent at 3 wineries with a lunch at one of them.

Happy Birthday Charlie

The wineries were Gemtree, Settlement (with a wonderful Pizza lunch) and Graham Stevens Wines.  The day was full of wonderful things, wonderful wines, wonderful winery hosts, wonderful Pizza’s, wonderful people.  All coupled with the wonderful Mediterranean weather and the best place on the wonderful earth called McLaren Vale.  To complete the wonderful items, I had the pleasure of joining the group here in McLaren Vale.

Gemtree Cellar Door

The first stop was Gemtree Vineyards, who have a cellar door outlet in the Main Street of McLaren Vale.  Gemtree are a family owned business who have made a very conscience effort towards true sustainability.  They are a certified organic producer – this is in it’s self a commitment of effort and financial.  They are also using biodynamic techniques in some of their vineyards.   Biodynamics is finding a niche in McLaren Vale with results that are not only shown in the vineyard but also the resultant wines as well.  In the commitment to sustainability includes aa long term testing regime of different wine varieties – varieties that produce the right acid, sugar and flavor balance with significantly less water than the mainstream varieties.  All this while still producing excellent wines that the wine drinking public will drink.  As with any change this change requires considerable effort or energy from the company.  Gemtree’s commitment to sustainability is unwavering and can be seen in their whole philosophy.

This family enterprise has also dedicated a section of one of their properties to a publicly open wetlands walking trail (complete with information and BBQ facilities) with planting of indigenous plant species that is attracting animal life of all kinds.

Wetlands Walking Track

Thee cellar door has a lovely wooden table top that has “Gems” on it – which is a nice touch.  We tried 4 wines from their range – 2 showing their commitment to new varieties.

2011 Moonstone Savagnin ($A16)

Quite strong aromas of stone fruit, lemon zest and melons..  The flavors showed good acid (with lemon and limes) with some nashi character.  The acid level is not for everybody and some of the tasters indicated they got bitterness in the wine.  This 100% natural and biodynamic wine has had nothing added to it – natural acid levels and natural yeasts make this a very natural wine.  I consider this a fresh and light wine – to be drunk on it’s own or with delicate seafood.

it should be noted this vineyard uses 33% less water than chardonnay requires.

2011 Luna Roja Tempranillo ($A25)

Another biodynamic wine from a drought resistant variety from Spain.  Spain is a hot climate and the Spanish are not silly so they understand the requirements of their climate and what wines to grow.   These vines get about 1 drink per year instead of multiple drinks per month during the summer.

Luna Roja  means red moon and this wine is red and juicy.  It is all about cherries, earthiness and these tannins that are chewy but juicy all at the same time.  A medium bodied wine that has significant character that screams to be consumed with duck.

2010 Uncut Shiraz ($A25)

This wine is so much better than the 2009 offering.  I get layers of dark plum, pepper and cinnamon spice with hints of chocolate and licorice.  Yet again some juicy and chewy tannins that will see this full bodied wine well into the next 5 years (if you will let it live that long).  A big wine that needs big flavors and I can see a thick T-bone steak in this wines future.

2010 The Phantom Red Blend II ($A35)

Made from 50% Cabernet Franc, 25% Mourvedre and 25% Petit Verdot.  The berries from the Cabernet Franc comes through quite strongly on the nose.  The 3 wines contribute their own space in the complexity of this wine.  The juicy fruit compote of the Franc, the spice and almost meatiness from the Mourvedre plus violets from the Petit Verdot.  I particularly liked the tannin structure here that shows the pedigree of the wine.

McLaren Vale Wine – Angoves Part 2

The McLaren Vale range was released for the Cellar Door opening – so brand new.  The use of colour and the family crest on the label is really good and shows the family theme.  This theme continues into the Warboys range.  Here a silver family crest depicts a classy label.  The Warboys Vineyard range is a series of wines from the Angoves McLaren Vale vineyard (where the cellar door sits).  The name Warboys comes from the vineyard (not family owned) that formed part of the original winemaking exercise for the family in 1893 – their first vintage.  The Medhyk (pronounced “medic”) also shows the family heritage as Medhyk is Cornish for doctor.  The link is the first Angove making wine was a Cornish doctor – Dr William Thomas Angove.  The wine will only be made from only the best McLaren Vale wine and is considered the flagship of the Angove range.

Angoves Cellar Door

 

2010 McLaren Vale GSM ($A22)

The Grenache component comes from the Warboys Vineyard, the Shiraz comes from a number of McLaren Vale growers and Mourvedre comes from the Longwood Vineyard (which you can almost see from the Cellar Door).  The wine seemed a little closed on the nose however the flavors were all that one expects from this blend.  The up front  of the Grenache, the spice and mid palate of the Shiraz and the body with a savoury finish of the Mourvedre.  What I did find interesting was there was a level of minerality that I was not expecting and found quite intriguing.

2010 McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon ($22)

As a generalisation, McLaren Vale makes a wonderful dry red from Cabernet and these wines have been very successful in wine shows and in sales.  For me I have found this interesting as so many of these Cabernets do not have the “normal” Cabernet character of the black current and Cassis.  This wine has a small component of Coonawarra fruit  that seems that have a wonderful effect on this wine.  As such in this glass was all the Cabernet character one expects from a classical Cabernet – the blackcurrent, french oak and drying tannins.  A wine for the Cabernet lovers to check out – a bargain at this price.

2010 McLaren Vale Shiraz ($A22)

All one wants to see from a McLaren Vale Shiraz – plum and cherry fruits, subtle pepper spices mixed with licorice.  Is it the best McLaren Vale Shiraz I have tasted – No, but again at this price range one could do a lot worse.

2010 Warboys Vineyard Grenache ($A35)

The single vineyard wine comes from the Chalk Hill Road property and the vines were planted in 1964 – a great year (the year of my birth).  As for the GSM the aromas were a little closed but the flavors were just so juicy.  Red current and cherry fruits wrapped up with subtle spices and an over arching minerallity.

2009 Warboys Vineyard Shiraz Grenache ($A35)

My favorite red wine of the range – made from the fruits of vines that were planted in 1948 and the whole vineyard was transformed since it was purchased in 2008.  There were essences of dark fruits, pepper and licorice with an inherent earthiness that made the aromas worthy of trying the wine.  Being impressed with this wine continues as you drink it.  The redness comes through and through – from the fruits to the licorice.  The spice and minerlity come together for a lengthy experience.

2009 Warboys Vineyard Shiraz ($A35)

Pepper and spice and all things spice – that is what this wine is made of!  There is lots to like about this wine and my comments when tasting it was “vivid palate”.  The only thing missing here is time.  Time is still needed to let the whole mixture settle down into the amalgam that this wine should become.

2008 The Medhyk Shiraz ($A55)

Made as the flagship McLaren Vale Shiraz so the best grapes with the best treatments including the best barrels.  Then the wine in these barrels are tasted with only the best of these making it into this wine.  There is a commitment to ensuring this label gets only the best so it is likely that if the wine does not stack up to the quality it will not be released under this label ie there may not be a Medhyk every vintage.

There are lots of dark fruit (plum based) on the nose with a depth here not sen in the other wines.  The darkness continues in the flavor profile where cherry and plum are wrapped around layers of spice and chocolate with hints of oak tannins.  This wine needs time and lots of it to see it’s best.

Angove Grand Tawny 500ml ($A25)

Only 50 cases have been bottled of this Grenache based fortified blend that averages 13 years old and the oldest wine in the blend was from 1981.  Time has been good to this infusion of clean grapes with slightly burnt caramel.  There is lots of acid here as the palate is kept fresh.  As expected the spirit here is also very clean but not intrusive.  A beauty that shows why Grenache has had a long history in Australia – starting in fortified wines.

Angove Rare Tawny 500ml ($A45)

Another blend with 50 cases bottled.  This time a blend of Shiraz and Frontinac grapes and the blend is older than the Grand Tawny.  Just brilliant – spiced caramel with alcohol.  The effort to visit the cellar door is repaid just by trying these fortified wines.

St Agnes XO Brandy 700ml ($A100)

The blend that goes into this stylish decanter is a minimum of 20 years old.  I am not a big brandy drinker but one can tell pedigree here.  Normally spirits for me, when drink neat, have an alcohol burn that characterises the type of spirit.  Here there is no burn but a smooth strong drink that has a wonderful fruit based series of aromas.  I was not going to try this, but I am so glad I did.

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