Tag Archives: shiraz

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.

McLaren Vale Wine – Sellicks Hill Wines

Something old is new again.  I have been a big fan of Paul Petagna and his wine for a number of years. Both under his “old” label Petagna Wines and the Sellicks Hill Wines label that Paul was making for his in laws.  Now Paul has bought the rights to Sellicks Hill Wines and has opened a cellar door on the Main South Road property (the cellar door sign can be seen just north of the Victory Hotel).

Sellicks Hill Wines Sign

Paul’s wines are part of him – both are full of character and the wines are just so flavoursome.  Interestingly the wines are also kept in barrel and bottle until they meet the standard before sale.  As such the current releases are from between 2006 and 2009.  By opening just one bottle you can share Paul’s passion for his wines and we should be glad for this passion.

The Sellicks Hill vineyard was planted by Paul’s Father in Law and Paul himself – so he knows each and every vine.  During winter I have seen him pruning the vines and even though he expresses his wish that somebody else would conduct the pruning, one can sense that deep down he fusses over each and every vine.  The vineyard has Grenache and Shiraz with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre used in the wines come from neighbouring vineyards so the wines are truly from Sellicks Hill.

2006 Valletta (Grenache Shiraz) (on special for $25 normally $30)

When I first saw this wine I was concerned as the wine had 3 years in oak and Grenache and oak do not always do well together.  I should not have been concerned as this wine has turned out to be one of my favourite McLaren Vale red wines.  It is drinking so well as Paul has done the cellaring for you.  The wine shows black and red fruits with some fennel notes and minimal oak tannins.

2009 Dio (Mourvedre) ($35)

I saw this wine in barrel a number of times over the last couple of years and have been consistently impressed so it was not a surprise that Paul decided to bottle this as a straight Mourvedre (noting that the previous Dio was a GSM blend).  Earthy, spicy and mid weight make this wine not only approachable but appealing to a number of different personal preferences.

2008 Diovolo (Shiraz Cabernet) ($35)

The classical Aussie blend that seemed to loose it’s way about 10 year ago as Australia went through the varietal phase.  The blending of these 2 varieties allows the mid palate shortfall of Cabernet (this is a generalisation).  I am glad this blend has begun to win back favour and this example is a beauty.  There is the usual fair of plums and black current and I enjoy the mint character (which comes from a particular barrel of wine from a particular grower that is quite minty).

2006 Piombo (Shiraz) ($40)

Right up front I must say I do not like this label – I understand the significance of the playing card popular with the Italian community, but the label is terrible.  The good thing here is the wine is a cracker – just wonderful McLaren Vale Shiraz.  Plums, spice complexity, liquorice and some chocolate as well.  For me this is one of the better Shiraz wines around and it has been cellared for you.  At the $40 mark I also think this is a steel – many wines of this ilk are well over $50.


McLaren Vale Wines – Lonely Grape Series Part 2

Last time I wrote for you I discussed the preliminaries and blending of the first Lonely Grape wines – check it out here.

This time I will be discussing the bottling process.  I had heard about bottling but I had not previously seen what happens.  I will not bore you with the details of finding the correct bottling line but in this case it was crucial the bottling line could handle small runs – in my case I was looking to bottle 600 L of Shiraz and 300 L of Cabernet.  Even thought it seemed like a lot of wine for me, in the world of wine bottling these volumes are minuscule.  One of the issues I had was that when bottling there are wine losses – you nearly had to pick me up off the floor when I was told to expect at least 50 L of wine from each bottling.  With such small bottling runs this type of loss was unacceptable.  Anyway after finding the preferred bottling line (who were confident of less than 5 litres of wine losses) and organising the wine delivery the day finally arrived.  I will admit I was more than a little excited and nervous over how it would all go.

When I got there I saw machinery that was fascinating – well for me anyway.

First step (after placing the bottles on the line) was the bottles got cleaned.  I was expecting water cleaning but in this case it was compressed air.  I was told the idea for the use of compressed air was so there were no issues with water mixing with the wine and thus any resulting dilution.

Air Washing Bottles

Then the bottles get filled.

Bottle Filling

In this case a screw cap (Stelvin Closure) is added and fixed.

Securing the Screw Cap

Off to the packaging section.


The cartons are placed onto a palate and plastic wrapped to ensure the cases do not fall in transit.

Palate Packing

One very happy customer.  By the way the bottling line was at Wine Bottling Solutions in Lonsdale.

Happy Customer

McLaren Vale Wines – Lonely Grape Series Part 1

The first 2 wines of the Lonely Grape series have been a journey of exploration for me.  I have worked with a local winemaker (more on that later) to produce small volumes of wine that have been blended just for me.  The organisation to get the wine bottled was also done by me – I will talk about the bottling process next time.

The local McLaren Vale winery involved was Genders McLaren Park Wines with Diana Genders as the winemaker.  I have been a fan of Diana’s work for a number of years and always saw her little winery as an example of wineries at the cross roads.  Diana is insistent that her wines are not released until they are to her liking.  So to give you an example the current wine selections from Diana at the moment are a 2008 Chardonnay, a 2005 Cabernet and a 2006 Shiraz.  Not many wineries do all the work – including the cellaring for you.  Diana looks after the 26 acres of vines plus does the wine making on her own.  She does not prune the vines or pick the fruit but most everything else (apart from some maintenance).  As the wines are matured before release they are relatively expensive but in my opinion they are worth every cent ($20/bottle for the Chardonnay and $45 – $50 for the reds).  At these prices and with Diana being very busy in the vineyard and the winery then the marketing falls behind.

Diana Genders

A few months ago I was talking to Diana about various ways to assist both our efforts to keep costs down and sell more wine when I noticed there was some wines from 2008 and 2009 still in barrel.  One thing led to another and when I tried some of the various barrels I was hooked on the idea of working with Diana to produce an exclusive wine that I could market and at the same time assist Diana with selling some more wine (all be it as bulk wine).  After discussing the idea with Diana the concept of a Genders Vineyard Lonely Grape Shiraz was born.

Lonely Grape 2008 Shiraz

Firstly we tasted all of the 2008 Shiraz barrels and I stumbled upon a 2011 Cabernet barrel that I just had to sample.  From that moment on I was hooked on producing a Cabernet as well.  When I found there was some 2009 Cabernet the concept just went from strength to strength.  After tasting each of the possible barrels and looking at the various oak types and ages we went into deep discussion over what possibilities there were.

The thinking continued as this process was only going to work for me if the wines were not quite the same style as Diana’s current releases as I wanted to be able to sell the wines right away and thus the wines had to have a more drink now quality even though I knew wines from the Genders Vineyard were long lived.  Before I would agree with Diana on how much of the wine I would purchase I needed to understand 2 things.  Firstly, my ability to pay for the wines and bottling.  Secondly, how much did I think I could sell in a reasonable time frame.  The first question was sorted out quickly however the second option took more time.

I have been watching the happening in this industry for a while and my wine sales business is into it’s 4th year and I have seen a number of people grow grapes or want to make wine and then just go off and do that.  This concept is great but without a sales and marketing plan these ventures have been doomed to failure.  My work over the last 3 and a bit years has been based on doing things the other way around.  I have a plan to make wine and become a producer but I was determined to work out about sales before I ran off and starting doing the romantic wine making thing.  My science based brain would not let me go off and have fun – it needed to determine the fun was worthwhile first.

Anyway with a sales plan for the break even point, including price points ($19/bottle for the Shiraz and $25/bottle for the Cabernet) was all sorted.  Now for the commitment.


Once I committed financially to the project the real fun started.  There were time constraints as one potential customer wanted some wine before a certain date (which was not far away).  So we had to get a move on.  Working with Diana on this project was a joy.  As you would expect she knew her wines and had a basic direction on what needed to be blended.  Half of the barrels available were new french oak and it was obvious (even to me) that the oak in these wines needed to be toned down – this was done by adding wines from old oak barrels.  The wine also needed freshening up so small amounts of other wine was added to the blend.

Small additions of various wine from different barrels began.  For me the trick was knowing what elements were needed to be added and then just what a difference these different additions made with such a small addition.  As a scientist I understand the differences different elements can make but as a wine drinker I expected that a 1% addition was so small it would not change the wine.  Oh how wrong I was!  Through this process it was great to get the insight and direction from Diana (even a “trust me” occurred during the process).

My next post will outline the logistical and bottling processes plus the origins of the wine labels (shown above).





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