Category Archives: Wine

McLaren Vale Wine – Maximus Wines

Maximus Cellar Door

Visit Maximus Cellar Door and you are likely to be greeted by the ever smiling Rowland.  Here you can try quite vast line up from such a small producer.  Over the last year or so they have gone from opening once per month to opening every weekend – just to keep up with demand.  Interestingly, they have targeted high class restaurants – initially in Adelaide and now in Sydney.  There are a few retailers that also stock their wine.

The name Maximus comes from Rowland’s liking of the Gladiator film from a few years ago.  The grapes for the wines come from the vines near the cellar door on Foggo Road (half way between McLaren Vale and McLaren Flat) as well as a number of growers.  The wine have to date been made by an off site wine making contractor and now a small winery has been installed under the cellar door which I am sure will be a delight for the newly appointed winemaker.

Roland has commissioned a chocolatier to produce chocolates to consume with some of their red wines – some of the wine is inside the chocolate.  You can taste these delights at the cellar door.  They also have cheese tasting plates that can be consumed at your leisure in the cellar door on their balcony.  The views from the balcony are stunning, as you can see below.  A gas BBQ is also available for use on the balcony and they even supply chicken skewers to cook.  A little birdy tells me there will be some special sausages that has some of their wine in them that will also be available at the cellar door.  I will check this out when they are released.

Maximus Cellar Door View

Well that is enough from me, so here are some of the wines…….

2010 Grenache/Tempranillo Rose (A$20)

A 80% Grenache blend with 20% Tempranillo is all about aromas of cherries and rose petals with the rose character providing a real point of difference. This is not a real sweet style with strawberries and cherries cleansed with a clear acid finish. Refreshing with a hint of rose difference.

2010 GSM Cadensia (A$25)

Unashamedly a fan here – McLaren Vale does these 3 varieties so well. All the red mulberry fruits erupt from the wine glass. In the mouth you get spicy red fruits with a sense of earthiness. The finish here is all about the drying tannins – not overpowering but adds an interesting dimension. This also shows the wine will last a few years but I suspect the wine will not last.  This wine has been chose to be served at our Prime Minister’s functions – not a bad recommendation!

2010 Old Vine Grenache (A$25)

Oh how I do enjoy good McLaren Vale Grenache and I did enjoy this one.  Red fruits, particularly mulberry and cherry with a lovely spice envelope of subtle Moroccan spices.  Grenache does not always respond well to “big” oak and there is none of that here.  The tannins are short and tasty.  One commented that this wine could be mistaken for Pinot Noir – for me though it was all Grenache.  Bring it on!

2010 Premium Shiraz (A$25)

Straight away I got a big wiff of pepper spice as I lifted my glass towards my face.  Over time this did fade.  All the plums you would expect from McLaren Vale Shiraz with a lovely covering of chocolate that shows cleaver use of oak.  I can see this being quite popular at a BBQ or a good serving of Pepper Steak.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (A$25)

I have been finding lately that a number of McLaren Vale Cabernets are good wines but do not always show the typical character expected from this variety.  This being the cassis or blackcurrent aromas and flavors.  Well in this case the classics are back!  I also got a smattering of blue fruits and a drying tannic finish.

Other wines not tasted
2010 Sauvingon Blanc (Adelaide Hills)
2009 Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills)
2010 Pinot Gris (Adelaide Hills)
2009 Premium Viognier
2010 Premium Tempranillo

I also hear there will be a Petit Verdot available soon.

McLaren Vale Wine – Backyard Shed Cru Red Pack #5

These wines can be purchased from Taste McLaren Vale – check it out here.

2009 Minnow Creek Black Minnow
Black Minnow is an interesting name for an interesting blend of Sangiovese (80%), Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) and 5% Malbec.  Aromas are basically cherry based – just like having a bowl of freshly macerated cherries.  There is some difference to the cherries so I suggest there is aromas of both black and red cherries – smells like Christmas time.  There is a bit of dust on the nose as well from the smattering of oak that has gone into the maturation of this wine.

Cherries dominate the fruit flavour but there is secondary red and black fruits in abundance.  As one may expect from Sangiovese there is a feeling of earthiness while the wine sits in the mouth and as you swallow it the tannins dry the mouth which makes you wanting more.  Not a wine to cellar but a wine to enjoy now.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
This was the surprise for me – I am not normally a Cabernet drinker but I could and probably will drink a heap of this. The aromas of blackcurrent and mint just fly out of the glass so much so, you don’t even have to do the “wanky thing” to get the aromas. I get cassis and chocolate with a slight minty finish. As I am finding with McLaren Vale Cabernet, the usual donut effect where the flavors disappear in the mid palate, does not happen here. Good old McLaren Vale is having it’s effect and so the mid palate is there is spades.

2010 Shiraz Grenache Mourvedre

One of my favorite blends and this wine does not disappoint.  There was something immediately interesting here  – the Shiraz portion of the wine was co-fermented with the Roussanne pressings (from the above wine).  The result is a real lift added to the aromas from the red fruits that comes through the from the Grenache.  The wine had a portion unoaked and the remainder oaked with various aged barrels – in other words they have been smart by producing the best wine they can from small volume by keeping small parcels separate and treating them differently.  Blending of these small batches allows the winemaker to produce the style they are looking for without compromise.  This outcome is worth the efforts.  There is balance here the red fruits from the Grenache, with the structure of Shiraz and the strength of Mourvedre mixed with a layered tannin structure that is not over bearing. I can see a big pan full of chilli mussels in this wines future.

2005 McLaren Park Shiraz
This is a classical Genders wine with all the developed characters but more importantly for me the wines change so much over a period of time. The aromas started with developed dark briary fruits but after a while changed to that typically shown from Dianna’s wines – floral notes. Then some cinnamon sticks kick in as well. The flavors also change dramatically. Firstly starts with the black fruits with oak tannins not over done and lots of good acid i.e. Really good structure. Over time the flavors change to include lots of spices and not your normal spices. I got more of cardamon and sage as the wine opened up. After being open for nearly 2 hours there were more changes – the fruits of blackberries and blueberries came through, so please let this wine breath for a considerable time so you can get the maximum enjoyment.

2006 Grenache

A lighter that expected offering from the Blewitt Springs vineyard.  The peat that one expects from this msub region of McLaren Vale comes through again on the nose with red spicy fruits – Yum.  The flavors are a medium bodied mixture of raspberries, cherries & spice with just a hint of oak.  This is a drink now wine but I am sorry, as if I open a bottle it is unlikely I will be sharing this.

2010 Graham Stevens Wines Vintage Shiraz
I will admit this wine was a surprise as it was closed with a screw cap!  I thought this unusual and I asked Graham about it.  His response was the Vintage style requires clean conditions and minimal oxygen contact so why not a screw cap.  Upon thinking about it more, I remembered that some old vintage port styles I have opened from the 70’s had cork disintegration issues.  So anyway I should talk about the wine.

Straight away the wine is all about the plum character that is McLaren Vale Shiraz as well as the clean spirit.  The aromas and flavors are like Shiraz grapes have been hand squeezed into your glass.  The plum is so clean and intense that the spirit does not interfere at all.  Once in the mouth the plum explosion is just complemented and cleaned up by the spirit and acid.  Wines such as this are a joy to consume and it can only make one wonder why this style has almost disappeared from the Australian and McLaren Vale wine making scene.  Do yourself a favour and try this wine – I cannot see you will do anything but enjoy it.

McLaren Vale Wine – Backyard Shed Cru Red Pack #4

These wines can be purchased from Taste McLaren Vale – check it out here.

2008 Thorpe Wines Shiraz

The grapes for this wine were picked before the heat wave of that year – this was important as so many of the 2008 reds have a stewed fruit character caused by the heat wave’s effects on the grapes.  The aromas were the usual plum and berry character plus the same iodine background that I found in the Cabernet from the same vintage.  The flavors hit me with citrus notes combined with plums plus the spice character of nutmeg and star anise (not the normally associated pepper flavors of Shiraz).  The finish was savory but not overly tannic (the wine spent 1 year on 2 year old oak).  There was an overall delicious factor that stuck me as definitely providing value.  When tasting this wine I thought of charred (BBQ) meats – maybe a good burger with lots of onion, cheese, lettuce, tomato and beetroot smothered in tomato sauce.

2008 Pieri Occasione

Made the classical Ripasso style and from Shiraz grapes.  This wine creates difference by taking the red wine from last year’s vintage and pass it through this years skins after they have been pressed – and what a difference it makes!  The wine was aged in older French & American oak so oak is not a dominate factor.  The aromas showed strength of plums and currents.  The strength of the fruit was not expected – particularly as these aromas were not jammy.  The flavors were an interesting contrast of some bitterness (from the skins), sweetness and drying tannins.  The fruit flavors are in line with the aromas, so the Shiraz-ness is true.  Drink it with just about anything but just drink it to try wine of this style.

2006 Petanga Wines Dio

A Grenache (70%), Shiraz (30%) and Mourvedre (10%) blend and what another joy.  Dio means God – there is nothing more behind this name that it is the sister wine to Diavolo, which means Devil.  Here we have the musk lolly smell, with more obvious red fruits (red currents) and the familiar fennel linger on the back of the nose.  This is a big wine but has a silky finish that includes a real floral and perfume plus an almost meaty element which comes from the Mourvedre.  Make sure you decant the wine and let it breathe – it will be worth the effort.  Talk about expression of of the vineyard and the sense of place, this wine is just sensational now and will only get better over the next 10 years (if it lasts that long).  This wine screams food, so don’t let it down and have it with a beef stir fry that has some Chinese five spice that will go so well with the fennel notes of the wine.

2006 Danshi Rise Shiraz

Just essence of McLaren Vale Shiraz here – all the plum, licorice and just a little chocolate.  The mid palate that McLaren Vale red wines are famous for is shown so well here.  Added to this is a sense of place – the minerallity of the soil mixes well with the strength of the fruit and the grainy tannins.  The tannins are interesting as there are lots of them but they just meld so well together with the weight of the fruit.  This is a wine that is all round complexity and even though it could be drunk now would continue to get better over the next 5+ years.  Slap a thick juicy T-bone steak in front of me with this wine and get out of may as this would be devouring time!

2006 Pikkara Shiraz

Pikkara is a small wine label from a 5th generation McMurtrie family growers and Nat has decided to make some wine with the help of the guys at Redhead Studios.  The aromas start with lovely cedary notes from the French oak combined with the classical plum one expects from McLaren Vale Shiraz.  As the wine breathes the obvious oak blows away and the silky smooth plum tends to dominate.  The flavours show the savory characters of all that is classical about McLaren Vale Shiraz with the chocolate plums enveloped in lovely fine tannins.  As the wine opened up I found some cherry character also coming through.  The best way to understand this wine’s underlying strength is that at no time during the tasting did I pick up on the 15% alcohol!  Drink over the next 5 years and enjoy it with  that has been slow cooked with garlic and rosemary.

2009 La Curio The Nubile Grenache Shiraz

As soon as I poured this wine I knew it was going to be interesting.  The wine was quite light and a dark pink colour.  The aromas just jumped out of the glass as soon as this pouring occurred.  Lots of raspberries and cherries combined with just a hint of cedar oak – no oak monster here!  The flavors were all about easy drinking with lovely raspberries wrapped around silky smooth tannins.  the 30% Shiraz component added some plum strength on the finish of the wine which just allowed the whole experience to stay in your mouth for quite a while.  This easy drinking red wine can be consumed in almost all occasions, and why not when the quality is this good.  Forget this wine if you are just looking for the strength of a Shiraz but for drinkability count me in – especially if there is a Chinese banquet ready to be consumed also.

McLaren Vale Wine – Backyard Shed Cru Red Pack #3

These wines can be purchased on line from Taste McLaren Vale – check it out here.

Willunga Creek Wines 2007 Out for a Duck Cabernet Shiraz

Now for my favourite wine from the Willunga Creek Wines range and interestingly it is a Cabernet and Shiraz blend creating a good outcome.  There is that sweet fruit plum with a slight vanilla aroma.  The flavours are a mixture of plums and blackcurrent with some slight herbaceousness that blends well with the soft oak to produce a long lasting effect.  Please bring me steak, charred from a BBQ smothered in onions and mushrooms.

Sabella Vineyards 2007 Shiraz

The aromas start with the typical berries one sees with McLaren Vale, and end with what I can only describe as the smell of freshly cooked cinnamon donuts – how different is that!  The cinnamon continues on the flavour profile and I suspect this comes from the clever use of oak and the various oak toasting combinations.  The flavours also include the usual plum characters your find in McLaren Vale Shiraz.  The tannins are soft and combine into a lingering experience.  The oak profile lends this wine to be a good match for some herb encrusted lamb and fresh seasonal vegetables.

Sellicks Hill Wines 2006 Valletta Grenache Shiraz

This wine is a Grenache & Shiraz blend that has been in barrel for 3 years and is one of my favourites.  Time has been kind to this wine infusion.  There is a musk lolly smell here and I cannot remember smelling this quite the same before.  An aniseed infusion into the dark fruits here with a vanilla hit on the back of the nose.  The palate shows darker fruits than I expected from a wine that is Grenache based.  There is a strength but elegance here that is absolutely intriguing and so is the fennel based finish to such a blend.  I was concerned with the 3 years in oak, but I should not have as it is just part of the wine.  This wine can be drunk now or left for a few more years to show its best.  For me I am not sure I can wait – so break out the BBQ Pork Spare Ribs and I may just share some of the wine with you.
 Marius 2006Simpatico Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Shiraz

From one of my favouite McLaren Vale producers – a medium bodied Shiraz flushed with good red fruits on the nose and palate (cherries and red currents).  Hints of oak of the American kind combines with fine tannins and the reliable McLaren Vale soft mid palate and great acidity create a wine worth drinking    and enjoying.  The winemaker, Roger, tells me that out of his range almost everybody likes this wine and I can see why.  You could drink it now but I suspect this will only get better in the coming 5+ years – if you can leave it that long.

Try taking this wine to a BBQ and you would have many friends that suddenly understand that the wine they brought was not up to standards that should be set for red wine enjoyment.

Seldom Inn 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

The fruit for this was mainly from 40 year old vines with this vintage picked early for McLaren Vale Cabernet that year and it missed most of the heat wave of that year.  The best word for the aromas was “Black” and the second word would be intensity.  The flavours were just layers of blackcurrent fruit with just lovely tannin complexity that leaves the mouth screaming for more.  This wine needs more time to reach its best but worth the wait it would be.  Sit it aside for 5+ years and try it with Beef Wellington.

Caught Red Handed 2008 McLaren Vale Shiraz

Fruit cake on the nose – cherries, plums and mulberries with just a hint of oak and spice (nutmeg and cinnamon). The first thing I notice on the palate is the lack of alcohol – this wine packs a punch at 15.6% alcohol but I do not get the bitter finish that I thought would happen.  There is enough fruit character and acid to balance with the alcohol.  The wine flavours are the same as for the aromas – one big mouthful of fruit cake with those lovely spices.  This is definitely a food wine and the bigger the better – so try it with a slow cooked Beef Burgundy with creamy mashed potato and crisp beans.

McLaren Vale Wine – Backyard Sed Cru Red Pack #2

These wines can be purchased on line from Taste McLaren Vale – check it out here.

2006 Thorpe Wines Sparkling Shiraz

Now this was something I was looking forward to – a bottle fermented Shiraz.  For me a really good sparking Shiraz is one of the joys of life.  The wine was disgorged in 2009 at a separate sparkling wine facility in Victoria.  I was not disappointed!  Straight away you can notice a fine bead (bubbles) that lasted as long as I had wine in my glass.  The aromas had the fruitiness of Raspberry combined with the earthy of mushrooms.  The Raspberry and Plums combines with the Star Anise spiciness that leads into a lengthy mouthful.  There is a specific direction to make this wine in a dryer style so there is not a large volume of liquor added to the wine at disgorgement.  I believe I will be consuming a number of bottles of this wine.  I would like to try a warm shredded poached chicken and rocket salad with a Vin Cotta and Verjuice reduction dressing with this wine on a lovely summer’s day.  The wine is drinking well now so why wait – get into it straight away (I know I will).

2008 Charlatan Sangiovese

This wine is all about cherries and it makes no apology for that.  The aromas also have some clove action and ever so slight cedar oak, which works so well with the cherries.  The fresh cherry flavours are mid weight (not your usual McLaren Vale full bodied wines here) with just a hint of tannins on the back of the palate.  On this basis I would consider this wine as a drink now proposition.  Great as a lighter option for Pizza or pork dishes.  This wine just sings summer drinking when you do not want a rose or a heavy bodied style, but still something refreshing all the same.

2007 Madeleines McLaren Vale Shiraz

This is a big wine with an inky colour (from the small berries from that year’s vintage).  The nose and palate shows lots of stewed plums that are almost sweet and the heavy oak (used to offset the fruit).  Make no mistake this is a big wine and will need a number of years before it settles down and the time it has spent in the bottle has been kind for the wine.    I would be comfortable in keeping this wine until 2015.  Thinking about matching this wine with an Individual Beef Wellington is making my mouth water.

 2002 Genders Duncan Cabernet Sauvignon

This very small production is made in honor of Dianna’s late brother and as such is only made during exceptional vintages.  The wines were aged in French oak for 2 years and now only released when the components of the wine were balanced to Diana’s approval.

The wine is starting to show some red tones.  The aromas really change with breathing time.  In the 45 minutes we had the wine open and going back to the wine showed the following order of aromas:-

  • Floral – violets
  • Fennel
  • Cumquats (almost candied small)
  • peppermint and blackcurrant
  • Chalky overtones

On the palate the wine shows red fruits (red currents) with fine dusty tannins that form an elegant infusion.  The wine is drinking well now and has quite a few years left in it – I would drink it before 2015.

This elegant wine yearns for roast duck or a few juicy slices of roast pork (and I would be nice by giving the crackling to my wife – but I get the wine).

2006 Graham Stevens Wines Grahams Vat 52

What an unusual blend but an excellent wine.  This is a blend of 50% Shiraz, 30% Grenache and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.  I spoke to Graham about this wine and it is his favourite as well.  Graham has been making this blend for decades and it invariably drinks and sells very well.  The Vat 52 is a well balanced wine showing hints of the spice of the Shiraz and plum of the Grenache can be drunk now or if you would like to keep it for a while it would reward the patience.  You could use it as a different style wine to take to dinner parties.

2009 J & J Vineyards Shiraz

The wine has purple tinges and with breathing the aromas open up to be dominated by cherries but also mulberries and plum with some cedar oak influences.  Flavours start out to be dominated by cherries and oak tannins. However, with breathing the wine shows Plum, Mulberry and even fruit cake.  So the key to getting the most out of this wine is letting it breathe.  A minimal amount of cherries are now evident and the tannins have softened to produce a well rounded offering.  Based on breathing improvements I would recommend that this wine be decanted and left to breath for at least an hour.  This also indicates that the wine would keep well to at least 2015.  A mushroom pate (like that produced my Maggie Beer) would be a good match with complimentary flavours from the wine and the food.

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