My general comments about all the wines tasted from this release. 2011 was a difficult vintage and I was not sure what to expect. These wines show that it is dangerous in making generalisations as these wines were in the whole very good – I was so relieved. I also think that this year was the best representation of the intent of the project. It has taken 3 years but I think the producers are starting to get it right. Most of the wines showed character that would normally be covered by lashings of oak. These wines are really showing off what good fruit can do with a minimal oak approach. Maybe this will be the start of a minimal oak revolution?
I would like to acknowledge that the information regarding the different districts has come from the paper “VITICULTURAL VINEYARD AREAS-TERROIRS of MCLAREN VALE WINE REGION” by Jeffrey G. Olliver (Consultant Geologist) and James Hook (Viticulturist DJ’s Growers) for Mclaren Vale Grape, Wine & Tourism Association. The wine map shown below was also supplied by the Mclaren Vale Grape, Wine & Tourism Association.
District 10 or Bellevue
Undulating rises on sand and limestone. Sandy loam to loam over red clay, loamy sand over brown clay and black-brown cracking clay. Some of the oldest vines planted in McLaren Vale are found in region #10, and these can ripen as early as sites closer to the Gulf of St Vincent. All grapes ripen earlier than in #12, and significantly earlier than those in # 14 located to the north east.
d’Arenburg The Vociferate Dipsomaniac ($99)
From the vineyard next to the stables near the cellar door and definitely all about the fruit quality – as per the specification for the Project. I get a sense of leaves or greenness here – so maybe picked while the seeds were still a tad green?
d”Arenberg The Piceous Lodestar ($99)
A real mixture of perfume, cherries and earthiness and the tannins were slightly bitter at the end of the palate.
District 11 or Old Noarlunga – Seaford Heights – McLaren Gateway
McLaren Gateway vineyards grow on shallow loam, stony in places, over red clay on limey weathered bedrock. Relatively level ridge tops south of the deeply incised Onkaparinga River. Vineyards are concentrated at McLaren Gateway.
Wistmosa Wines ($35)
I had briefly seen this wine before so I was looking forward to having a proper taste of it again. I was not disappointed. Aromas of chocolate, deep fruits and almost a sense of mushrooms right at the end. In the mouth this wine is all about what good McLaren Vale Shiraz should be – chocolate, licorice, plums, pepper and some dried herbs. A wine that was just a joy to savor and never to guzzle!
District 12 or Blewitt Springs
Sand over sandy clay, deep sand and ironstone soil. Rainfall increases in the Willunga Basin as the topography increases in elevation from west to east, therefore sites in #12 have a higher rainfall than those to the west in #7, #11 as examples.
d’Arenberg The Blind Tiger ($99)
Bring on the peat. Blewitt Springs wines can show a peatiness that I have not really encountered elsewhere – and this wine has it in spades. Deep but clean friut with minimum oak. Definately my pick of the d’Arenberg offerings.
Hastwell & Lightfoot Scarce Earth Shiraz ($30)
Aromas of deepness – fruit and that peat again. The flavours were a little lighter than expected from the deep aromas but this does not take anything away from the overall enjoyment of the wine. The effect of the peat and licorice on the bright fruit causes the wine to linger in the mouth. Enjoy.
Shottesbrooke Vineyards Single Vineyard Shiraz Blewitt Springs ($45)
Lots of fruit and that Blewitt Springs peat showing again in the aroma profile. The extended lees maturation shows up in the lovely mouthfeel the wine extends to the consumer. The fruit and oak tannin are well matched – another wine worth tracking down.
District 16 or McLaren Flat
Silty loam over brown clay and sandy loam over poorly-structured brown clay.
Sabella J Petrucci & Son Shiraz ($25)
Maybe a better wine than the 2010 offering and it is all about “deep”. Deep fruit aromas and deep blackberry fruit flavours. If you like the deep then give it a try.
District 18 or Kurrajong/Elliot/Hillside
Breccia of large angular blocks of quartzite and siltstone in the east becoming finer grained progressively to the west. Most distal alluvial fans consist of clayey sandstone.
Mr Riggs Shiraz ($50)
For me one of the few wines that did not really match the Scarce Earth Project brief. The oak was as much or more prevalent that the fruit flavours. This was also the greenest wine of the tasting – maybe indicating the grapes were picked while the pips were still green. A wine that will be enjoyed by many punters but when compared to the others in the line up – not for me.
Gemtree Vineyards Uncut Shiraz ($30)
Pepper and vibrant fruit (including some blue fruits) with just a hint too much oak for a wine in this project. Maybe a wine trying to be too many things – a normal release commercial wine and a Scarce Earth wine as well?