Tag Archives: Scarce Earth Project

McLaren Vale Wine – Scarce Earth Project 2012 Shiraz (Part 2)

Check out my summary of the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Project and a number of the wines from the 2012 intake – click here

Five Views Vineyard Creepers Cut Out Shiraz

Haselgrove “The Ambassador” Single Vineyard Shiraz ($85)

The ambassador is Les Burdett (of Adelaide Oval curator fame) and all profits from the sales of this wine goes to charity.  The wine lacks aroma – as I found with many of this years Scarce Earth offerings.  As it should the soft fruit plays the main role here but drops away quite quickly.

Hugh Hamilton Black Blood III Shiraz ($70)

Aromas of fresh plums with an almost perfume lift.  Lovely clean shiraz fruit with a pepper lingering finish.  Crying out for food and another glass.

Hugh Hamilton Black Blood II Shiraz ($70)

Across the aroma and flavour profiles this wine is all about the fruit.  Wonderful balance with some blue character and a tobacco and spice finish.

Hugh Hamilton Black Blood I Shiraz ($70)

From the Bay of Biscay clays next to the cellar door that produced a wine with black tar and fruit strength but an elegant balance.

Battle of Bosworth Bradens Shiraz ($45)

Another wine from Bay of Biscay clay but so different to the one above.  There is a real fruit character with the aroma and this fruit comes through on the palate as well.  I liked the tannin structure and the spice finish.

Vinrock Shiraz ($55)

The aromas are all about earthy chocolate – don’t worry this works.  I thought this wine had the most tannins compared to the wines tasted so far.  Balanced and dark – just needs food!

Five Views Creepers Cut Out Shiraz ($39)

This is my favourite wine of the group so far.  Aromas of choc mint layer wrapped around a fresh plum.  Not a lot of oak but a real sage hit with the clean plum fruit expected from Shiraz.

Penny’s Hill Footprint Shiraz ($65)

Again minimal aroma here.  Interesting fruit character here – chalky or slatey with a hint of smoke that works well with the bold fruits.

Coriole Willunga Shiraz ($55)

There is a blackness here that indicates a fruit strength.  Rosemary makes an appearance here as well.

Coriole Galaxidia Shiraz ($55)

There is a combination of good fruit, earthy mushrooms and dried herbs – lots to like here.

McLaren Vale Wine – Scarce Earth Project 2012 Shiraz


Scarce Earth Project Tasting

Well it is that time of the year again – around Easter each year the Scarce Earth wines are getting ready for their 1st May release.  So what I hear you say is the Scarce Earth Project all about?  Well it is all about Shiraz and Shiraz in it’s purest form.  McLaren Vale is know for producing excellent Shiraz but there is no such thing as a typical McLaren Vale Shiraz because of the varied geology/soil types as well as the different climates.  Previously there has been attempts to classify sub regions of McLaren Vale – with various levels of success.  Now with the release of the Geology Map of McLaren Vale vineyards can be classified by their various soil and rock types.  The Scarce Earth Project is all about showing single vineyard Shiraz and being able to link the vineyard back to the geology type.  Then the brief is for minimalistic winemaking practices (particularly minimal oak influences) this way the Shiraz fruit can shine through and then the differences should reflect the differences in the geology and climate.

Not everybody is convinced but I find it interesting to taste wines from various vineyards almost next to each other and marvel on how different they can be.  Also I can see this concept being a way to showcase McLaren Vale Shiraz and that has got to be a good thing.

Anyway here are some of the wines with  ore to follow next time.

Cradle of Hills Row 23 Shiraz ($45)

Aromas of cold tea and lavender make this an unusual offering from this group.  The lavender continues onto the palate with some really good fruit definition along with a hint of fruit sweetness and an envelope of tannins that brings all the flavours together.

Fork in the Road Shiraz ($39)

After missing out in 2011 it is good to see Joan’s vineyard back again.  I enjoyed the fruit definition with lots of dried sage with lingering effect.

d’Arenberg Tyche’s Mustard Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99)

Quite aromatic with lots of pepper.  I thought the fruit was a little short on the back palate and a green stalky flavour that I do not enjoy.

d’Arenberg The Eight Iron Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99)

This wine is all about the bold strong palate structure with the plum and chocolate one expects from McLaren Vale Shiraz with just a hint of green stalkyness.

d’Arenberg The Amaranthine Single Vineyard Shiraz ($99)

My favourite of the 3 dArry wines with a purple hue with a balance of tannins and ripe fruit and chocolate.

Shingleback Unedited Shiraz ($70)

A wine with strength and elegance with both red and black fruits showing through.  Each taste of this wine left me wanting more – certainly a good recommendation.

Maxwell Wines Eocene Ancient Earth Shiraz ($45)

Aromas of limestone or slate with loads of red fruits.  The flavours keep on with the red fruits – it is almost juicy on the front and balanced but drying tannins on the finish.  This wine screams out to be consumed with food – bring on some pork spare ribs.

Buy McLaren Vale Wines – Backyard Shed Cru #9

Backyard Shed Cru Red Pack #9

It does not seem like 6 months have passed since the previous release of the Taste McLaren Vale membership wine pack – called Backyard Shed Cru, but is has been.  The concept of calling tha pack the “Backyard Shed Cru” comes from the fact that most of these wines come from producers that are so small they make their wine in a small shed – either in their back yard or somebody elses backyard.  If you like what you see then check out the Taste McLaren Vale Backyard Shed Cru Membership here.  Every 6 months we send out a wine six pack.  The wines come from little know wineries and are really a tasting pack you you to try new wines from the small artisan McLaren Vale wine producers.

2010 Rusty Mutt Shiraz

Straight away the wonderful Shiraz fruit comes shining through.  The aromas of plums and cherries with hints of red licorice and an almost perfume character.  the drinking is where the fruit treatment hits you.  This wine is elegant and silky smooth –  one could almost call it a feminine wine.  There is nose of the in your face gutsy McLaren Vale Shiraz.  Instead there is a complex fruit compote with black and blue fruits with hints of red and black licorice and even a little chocolate action.  Little oak influence – particularly when the wine has been given time to breathe.  The complexity lends itself to food but more subtle styles like a roast duck curry – in itself different as I do not believe I have previously recommended a McLaren vale Shiraz to be consumed with duck.

2009 Ruffilli Estates Ambition Cabernet Merlot

More complex than I was expecting – herbs of mint, lavender, Rosemary and thyme combined with blackcurrent fruit wrapped with an envelope of unobtrusive oak tannin.  There is a slight hint of greenness and a small donut effect.  The donut effect of Cabernet is where the mid palate flavours diminish in the middle of the wine.  It is here but only just.  When left to breathe the secondary flavours and aromas of chocolate and licorice come through.  The chocolate here defines the mid palate and thus no donut!  Definitely a food wine maybe a rabbit and root vegetable casserole.  One to watch out for and to keep – if you can.

2011 Wistmosa Shiraz

This wine was part of the 2011 release of the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Project.  I like a lot about the Scarce Earth Project – particularly the concept of having wines that are single vineyard, minimal winemaker or oak influences.  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!

2010 GMH “Founders Choice” Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre

Just a good old fashioned drinkable version of the McLaren Vale blend staple.  There are the usual red and black fruits here and hints of violets that seems to be associated with Mourvedre.  Oak influences are minimal  – this wine just screams drink me now!  Who am I to argue.

2009 Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy Shiraz

Smart drinking McLaren Vale Shiraz – this just about sums this wine up.  Plums, chocolate, licorice and hints of french cedar oak (not too much though).  If you were not convinced that McLaren Vale was so suited to producing quality Shiraz then you should try this.  Sure this wine will last a while but why wait.  It is BBQ weather now so why not put this wine to the test.

2011 Oneotria Vintners “Land of the Vines” Cabernet Sauvignon

The winemaker (Kurt) has been coming down to McLaren Vale to be involved with vintage.  He has been making with with Adam Hooper from La Curio fame.  Kurt is so dedicated to the cause he even sleeps in the winery so he can look after his “wine flock” at any time of the day or night.  I must say I was impressed with this wine as it shows wonderful Cabernet (black current) character that does not always show with McLaren Vale Cabernet.  As well as the black current I get a hints of chocolate, licorice and dried herbs.  The oak is only noticeable on the back palate.  I have tried this wine now over the last 6 months and it is consistently better each time.  I suggest leave the wine for about another year and it will be even better.

Buy McLaren Vale Wines – Backyard Shed Cru #9

See the videos below where I review the latest Backyard Shed Cru membership tasting pack.  If you like what you see then check out the Taste McLaren Vale Backyard Shed Cru Membership here.  Every 6 months we send out a wine six pack.  The wines come from little know wineries and are really a tasting pack you you to try new wines from the small artisan McLaren Vale wine producers.

2009 Ruffilli Estates Ambition Cabernet Merlot

2010 Rusty Mutt Shiraz

2009 Handcrafted by Geoff Hardy Shiraz

2010 GMH Founders Choice Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre

2011 Wistmosa Shiraz

2011 Oenotria Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon

McLaren Vale Wine – 2011 McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Project Shiraz Part 3

The third installment in my review of the 2011 Scarce Earth Shiraz Project review (see part 1 by clicking here and part 2 clicking here).

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.

McLaren Vale Sub Region Map


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.

Meet Steve & Sadie from Wistmosa Wines

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?

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