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.