Tag Archives: South Australia

McLaren Vale Wines – Samuels Gorge

Samuels Gorge is one of my favorite places to visit in McLaren Vale.  The wines have a sense of difference, the people are wonderful and the facility has lots and lots of old world charm.   The atmosphere in this place is great.  The locals wine industry people go there for a drink in the afternoon (it helps being one of the last cellar doors open) so you know it has a certain charm.  The 100 year old building contains a number of old world contraptions including an olive press.  The driveway to the property has some very old olive trees.

Samuels Gorge Winery & Cellar Door

Samuels Gorge Verandah and Surrounds

Samuels Gorge Tasting Area

The gardens and covered area overlooks the Onkaparinga National Park, so even the views are just worth being there.

The winemaker, Justin, is also one of a kind.  Having worked in many wineries he not only settled in McLaren Vale he has the ability to do his own thing.  Cannot get much better than that.

The grapes for these excellent wines come from selected low yielding vineyards from Blewitt Springs through to Aldinga Beach.  Only wines with the correct character and quality make the Samuels Gorge labeled wines.  At times they release cleanskins that have to date been great value and exceptional quality for a cleanskin.

Each Easter there is a new release day where the wines are formally released to the public.  This event is one to put on your wine calendar.  They usually have food served and generous wine samples poured.  I try to be there every Easter.

Currently, the white wines are sold out.  Justin’s philosophy about wine tells him that white wine is not really suited to McLaren Vale, so he has decided to look further afield.  Most people would look towards Adelaide Hills – bit not Justin.  He likes the whites from Tasmania so why not.  The last few years he had made a Riesling and a Gewurtztraminer (not a sweet one).  They also produce a Sparkling Shiraz in very limited quantities ($A50/bottle) that has to date been sensational.  I look forward to their next release in the next month.

Now for the wines………..

2009 Cadensia Grenache ($A35)

From Blewitt Springs vineyards this wine continues to impress (as had the previous vintages).  When done well, McLaren Vale Grenache is just such a wonderful wine and it is my favorite variety.  The grape has a bad wrap and wines such as this are a hard sell.  It is interesting that when people try this at the cellar door they usual like it and make a purchase.  This is a beauty – aromas of juicy red fruits with a hint of blackness.  There is subtle spices and some floral notes.  The flavors back up the smells – with red cherries and plums in an envelope of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon.

2010 Tempranillo ($A35)

From the homestead block and the juicyness continues.  Lots and lots of cherries with a little barnyard stink.  There is a minerallity with a chalkiness and really chewy tannins.  Quite an impressive wine from a variety that seems to me moving from alternative to more main stream.  Well worth checking out.

2010 Shiraz ($A35)

This wine is so popular they have had to release the 2010 vintage well ahead of schedule (a couple of weeks ago).  It has just been bottled and released now instead of waiting for the normal Easter weekend release.  Even though the wine needs time to settle down and would be suffering from bottling shock, you can see the pedigree.  There is the Shiraz plum here with dusty mouth drying tannins and a concentration that  provides an interesting mouthfeel.  This will be great by Easter.

2010 Mourvedre

Barrel sample that will released around Easter this year.  There is a sense of floral, meaty earthiness that is Mourvedre.  Lets just say that I look forward to the Easter release.

McLaren Vale Wine – Angoves Part 2

The McLaren Vale range was released for the Cellar Door opening – so brand new.  The use of colour and the family crest on the label is really good and shows the family theme.  This theme continues into the Warboys range.  Here a silver family crest depicts a classy label.  The Warboys Vineyard range is a series of wines from the Angoves McLaren Vale vineyard (where the cellar door sits).  The name Warboys comes from the vineyard (not family owned) that formed part of the original winemaking exercise for the family in 1893 – their first vintage.  The Medhyk (pronounced “medic”) also shows the family heritage as Medhyk is Cornish for doctor.  The link is the first Angove making wine was a Cornish doctor – Dr William Thomas Angove.  The wine will only be made from only the best McLaren Vale wine and is considered the flagship of the Angove range.

Angoves Cellar Door


2010 McLaren Vale GSM ($A22)

The Grenache component comes from the Warboys Vineyard, the Shiraz comes from a number of McLaren Vale growers and Mourvedre comes from the Longwood Vineyard (which you can almost see from the Cellar Door).  The wine seemed a little closed on the nose however the flavors were all that one expects from this blend.  The up front  of the Grenache, the spice and mid palate of the Shiraz and the body with a savoury finish of the Mourvedre.  What I did find interesting was there was a level of minerality that I was not expecting and found quite intriguing.

2010 McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon ($22)

As a generalisation, McLaren Vale makes a wonderful dry red from Cabernet and these wines have been very successful in wine shows and in sales.  For me I have found this interesting as so many of these Cabernets do not have the “normal” Cabernet character of the black current and Cassis.  This wine has a small component of Coonawarra fruit  that seems that have a wonderful effect on this wine.  As such in this glass was all the Cabernet character one expects from a classical Cabernet – the blackcurrent, french oak and drying tannins.  A wine for the Cabernet lovers to check out – a bargain at this price.

2010 McLaren Vale Shiraz ($A22)

All one wants to see from a McLaren Vale Shiraz – plum and cherry fruits, subtle pepper spices mixed with licorice.  Is it the best McLaren Vale Shiraz I have tasted – No, but again at this price range one could do a lot worse.

2010 Warboys Vineyard Grenache ($A35)

The single vineyard wine comes from the Chalk Hill Road property and the vines were planted in 1964 – a great year (the year of my birth).  As for the GSM the aromas were a little closed but the flavors were just so juicy.  Red current and cherry fruits wrapped up with subtle spices and an over arching minerallity.

2009 Warboys Vineyard Shiraz Grenache ($A35)

My favorite red wine of the range – made from the fruits of vines that were planted in 1948 and the whole vineyard was transformed since it was purchased in 2008.  There were essences of dark fruits, pepper and licorice with an inherent earthiness that made the aromas worthy of trying the wine.  Being impressed with this wine continues as you drink it.  The redness comes through and through – from the fruits to the licorice.  The spice and minerlity come together for a lengthy experience.

2009 Warboys Vineyard Shiraz ($A35)

Pepper and spice and all things spice – that is what this wine is made of!  There is lots to like about this wine and my comments when tasting it was “vivid palate”.  The only thing missing here is time.  Time is still needed to let the whole mixture settle down into the amalgam that this wine should become.

2008 The Medhyk Shiraz ($A55)

Made as the flagship McLaren Vale Shiraz so the best grapes with the best treatments including the best barrels.  Then the wine in these barrels are tasted with only the best of these making it into this wine.  There is a commitment to ensuring this label gets only the best so it is likely that if the wine does not stack up to the quality it will not be released under this label ie there may not be a Medhyk every vintage.

There are lots of dark fruit (plum based) on the nose with a depth here not sen in the other wines.  The darkness continues in the flavor profile where cherry and plum are wrapped around layers of spice and chocolate with hints of oak tannins.  This wine needs time and lots of it to see it’s best.

Angove Grand Tawny 500ml ($A25)

Only 50 cases have been bottled of this Grenache based fortified blend that averages 13 years old and the oldest wine in the blend was from 1981.  Time has been good to this infusion of clean grapes with slightly burnt caramel.  There is lots of acid here as the palate is kept fresh.  As expected the spirit here is also very clean but not intrusive.  A beauty that shows why Grenache has had a long history in Australia – starting in fortified wines.

Angove Rare Tawny 500ml ($A45)

Another blend with 50 cases bottled.  This time a blend of Shiraz and Frontinac grapes and the blend is older than the Grand Tawny.  Just brilliant – spiced caramel with alcohol.  The effort to visit the cellar door is repaid just by trying these fortified wines.

St Agnes XO Brandy 700ml ($A100)

The blend that goes into this stylish decanter is a minimum of 20 years old.  I am not a big brandy drinker but one can tell pedigree here.  Normally spirits for me, when drink neat, have an alcohol burn that characterises the type of spirit.  Here there is no burn but a smooth strong drink that has a wonderful fruit based series of aromas.  I was not going to try this, but I am so glad I did.

McLaren Vale Wine – Angoves

Angove Wines McLaren Vale Cellar Door

I have been watching this new cellar door being built over the last few months and so I was quite excited about visiting the newest cellar door in McLaren Vale.  I was also excited by seeing how this new facility was going to be set up.  I grew up near Tea Tree Gully (TTG) where a considerable part of the Angoves story has unfolded.  Until recently, a small cellar door was situated in TTG and while I have been working all around the wonderful country I would always visit this facility when I visited home.  This old cellar door really was bargain central where bin ends overseas stock and wrongly bottled wines would be available for sale.  This new cellar door could not be further away from the old TTG facility.  Here there are 2 whole ranges that are McLaren Vale based.  Firstly, the Warboys Vineyard range that is made from the single vineyard around the new cellar door, which has the family crest in silver on the label.  Secondly, a McLaren Vale range that is sourced from various growers in McLaren Vale and has a coloured family crest on the label.  These 2 ranges are only available at the McLaren Vale cellar door.  To compliment these 2 ranges there are some other options at both ends of the spectrum.  There are quite a few wines available for tasting so I will review the wines over 2 blog entries.

Angoves Cellar Door

Added attractions at the cellar door are the regional platters (cheese, olives and bread) or a coffee and cake or biscuits.  It was very hot the day of my visit but there is a outside courtyard area with tables and chairs – a great spot to look over the vineyard.  The “Boardroom” is available for small corporate functions and has a table made from hardwood recycled from large wooded vats previously used in the winery (the tasting bar shown above is made from the same wood).  There is also Pizza Oven hidden down one side of the cellar door that I am sure will be able to tell many stories in a couple of years time.

Cellar Door Courtyard

Anyway, enough of this lets talk about the wine………….

2011 Vineyard Select Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc ($A18)

From a Woodside vineyard in the Adelaide Hills from the Wicks stable.  The wine was surprisingly good as most areas of the Adelaide Hills were devastated by disease in 2011.  And surprised I was – the wine showed lots of passionfruit with a little grass on the nose, the palate showed tropical fruits and grass again with a length brought on by the good acid structure.  Still not for me but a good example of what the Adelaide Hills can provide that is not a NZ clone.

2011 Nine Vines Pinot Grigio ($A15)

As expected the Nine Popes range is from the vast Angove Riverland vineyards.  I was expecting pear characters but instead got citrus acid being dominate with a really interesting (and refreshing) grapefruit flavor profile.  A good clean and crisp drink that should be consumed on a Sunday afternoon with friends and Tapas.

2010 Organic Chardonnay ($A20)

One third from the Battle of Bosworth vineyard in McLaren Vale and 2 thirds from the family Renmark vineyard that has been converted to organic practices.  Some of the wine has seen 2 or 3 year old oak barrels for about 8 months.  Great to see the light use of oak as opposed to no oak at all.  A chardonnay with no oak does not seem right in my book.  This wine shows the complexity of a light oak touch with peach, nectarines with a creamy nature right before the wonderful tangy acid finish.  I am thinking a creamy chicken dish to have with this wine.

2010 McLaren Vale Chardonnay ($A20)

Only just released for the opening of the new cellar door and made from grapes from a vineyard just outside the township of McLaren Vale.  The grapes were pressed directly into 1 or 2 year old french oak barrels and the fermentation occurred with the indigenous yeasts and stirred weekly.  The result is a refined aroma of minerality and stone fruits (peach and nectarine) wrapped up in an acidity that wraps around your tongue as well.  I found this the most interesting white wine from this tasting.  The wine could be matched with many food types so maybe a Chinese banquet may go down well here.

2011 Nine Vines Moscato ($A15)

The interesting thing about Moscato is is that what you smell is what it is – grapes.  Wines made from other grapes can smell of so many other things but Moscato is very uncomplicated as it smells and tastes like the grapes it is made from.  At only 8% alcohol and not too much sugar left one can see the uncomplicated freshness is the reasoning behind the large increase in sales of this wine style.

2011 Nine Vines Grenache Shiraz Rose ($A15)

The Nine Vines Rose has been in my glass a number of times over the last 6 or 7 years,  Over this time there has been a consistent theme of quality here.  There is always the red berries and cream with clean acid.  What is a little different now is the wine seems to have a touch less sugar and for me, the resultant wine is better for it.  Sunday lunch with cheese, preserved meats, home made chutneys and fresh crusty bread – nothing more, nothing less.

2010 Organic Shiraz Cabernet ($A16)

As for the chardonnay the grapes for this wine is about 1 third from McLaren Vale’s Battle of Bosworth and 2 thirds from the Riverland.  There is a real berry and licorice theme with this wine.  The berries of black current and blackberry drive the up front flavors and the finish is driven by the licorice.

2010 Vineyard Select McLaren Vale Shiraz ($A18)

A blend from regional vineyards from the McLaren Vale region that shows all the usual elements one sees in McLaren Vale Shiraz – dark plums, generous mid palate, the spices of pepper and cardamon combined with a generous dusting of oak.  The tannins dominate the finish and one would recommend a bit longer in the bottle to let this soften a tad.

Next week I review the rest of the Angoves McLaren Vale cellar door wine list.

McLaren Vale Wine – Brick Kiln

Brick Kiln was established in 2001 when Alison and Malcolm left Fox Creek Wines and joined a partnership with fellow Adelaide people and some Canadians to form the Nine Gums Vineyard Partnership.  The vision of the partnership is to make a wine to the same level of the Fox Creek Reserve at an affordable price.  The eight hectare vineyard in Willunga has Shiraz planted progressively since 1996 (by previous owners).

Their cellar door has only recently been opened in the Red Poles Restaurant and Art Gallery on McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale.  The wines are available for tasting from 12 noon to 4 pm Wednesday to Sunday each week.

On the 7th January 2012 Brick Kiln are having a special tasting between 5 and 7 pm – with special guests, wines and maybe some music as well.  I may even see you there!

2011 Pinot Grigio ($A16)

Made from grapes from the Sabella Vineyard near the Red Poles cellar door facility and was made by Linda Domas who does her thing at both the Dennis Wines and Parri Estate facilities.  I have tasted the Sabella made Pinot Grigio as well as having tried Linda’s offerings over the last couple of years.  So I was looking forward to this wine.  What I got was a suitable offering that had aromas of grapefruit and lime zest that went to flavours of pear with citrus inspired acid.  The mid palate was particularly good.  I can see many people enjoying this crisp seafood wine or maybe just on it’s own, but I am still struggling to see what has people excited by this variety.

2011 Shiraz Rose ($A16)

Another Linda Domas offering and made by fruit from the 9 Gums Vineyard.  It is all that one expects from a Shiraz rose.  The typical red fruit and almost creamy aromas followed by a clean refreshing palate of red fruits, with some extra body from the Shiraz fruit.  Not sweet but not fully dry either so it should appeal to many people, particularly during the hot days of summer.

2009 Sparkling Shiraz ($A18)

One of my favorite wine styles when done well so I was looking forward to tasting this offering from the 9 Gums Vineyard.  The beginnings were looking good, with aromas of blackberry, dark and ripe plums with oak derived elements.  The flavours were unfortunately a little one dimensional as it was only about the plums.  The tannins were almost non-existent which lead to the wine being quite short – in other words the flavours just stopped very quickly when you drink the wine.  I am probably spoilt by such wines as the 2006 Thope Sparkling Shiraz, but give me a bottle of this any day.

2008 Shiraz ($A20)

The wine was made by Phil Christiansen who is making quite a name for himself making small volume wines for many labels in McLaren Vale.  Matured in 65% American oak with the remainder in French oak.  The aromas started a little stinky even barn yardy with the coconut one expects from the American oak and the plum you expect from McLaren Vale Shiraz.  The tannins are smooth to make what is a good effort from what was a difficult year.

2008 The Grove Shiraz ($A35)

All the best fruit of the 9 Gums Vineyard was saved for the best French oak.  I thought the aromas were somewhat short but the flavour profile was a different thing all together.  The flavours were an integration of dark plum fruits, good acid levels and smooth soft tannins that provide you with a structured trinity of flavour.  I suspect this wine will improve over the next couple of years.

McLaren Vale Wines – Noon Winery

Noon Winery has been one of my favorite wineries since I first tasted their wines around 1985.  In those days it was owned by :the old man” and had Clive – one of the worlds gentlemen and one who had a photographic memory.  I have very fond memories of visiting the cellar door and spending time with a man small in stature who wore thick lensed glasses and a terry toweling hat.  Clive could also remember what you purchased last year and would ask how you enjoyed that specific wine.  I used to love to visit Noon’s as the last point of call for a McLaren vale winery visit and just give them all the money I had left and just asked “how many bottles could I get for this?”  Invariably we would walk away with more bottles than we had money for, but we always went back.  When I returned to McLaren Vale in September 2007 I found the Noon cellar door not open, the old man had sold the winery to his son (Drew) and that Clive had passed on to that great cellar door in the sky.

Today, the Noon Wines cellar door is only open for 3 weekends a year and their wine is sold under allocation to their mailing list members and to those brave soles who line up to see what limited allocation they could get.

Lineup to purchase Noon wines

The wines can be tasted at a wooden bench just outside the cellar, so there is something you can do while waiting to get into the winery.  Drew gets help from his friends to make what must be a hectic few days work as smoothly as possible.  Many of those who line up keep coming back each year and their request is constant – how can I get onto the mailing list?  Yes folks, there is a waiting list for the mailing list.  The Noon family go to great lengths to be fair to as many as possible.  If you do not purchase wines and are on their list, then you are politely asked to move on so others can benefit.  They request that the allocation available is per family and not per person – I have seen a few people smile as they exit the cellar with more than they really should have.

The wines are made from a couple of vineyards around the Noon Wines complex plus from long term growers based in Langhorne Creek.  The wines are consistently made with flavor in mind and Dew needs to be comfortable that the required flavor profile is available.  To do this the wines usually have relatively high alcohol – it is not unusual for a 15% alcohol Rose as an example.

For the scarcity of the wines (the wines usually are sold out after the members receive theirs and the first weekend at the cellar) and the reputation these wines are value for money.  I have seen many times a Noon wine up for sale at inflated prices compared to that at time of purchase.  Well for me these wines are mine, I may share some with you but I will never give them away or sell them for profit!

Noon Wines with the wonderful Winery Block Grenache

And after picking up my allocation and tasting the wines, here are my comments…..

2011 High Noon Rose

Back to the Grenache based wine and it it better for it.  At 14.2% alcohol this wine packs a smaller punch than most High Noon Rose wines of the last few years.  Fresh and lively aromas and flavors that are based on the red fruits of raspberry in particular.  Lovely and I will be looking to this as a food Rose style compared to many other Rose wines that are really veranda wine.

2010 Twelve Bells

Due to a lower crop of Grenache in the 2010 year (after a heatwave damaging the Grenache flowers in November 2009) means this wine has changed from a Grenache based wine to a Shiraz based wine.  At first I got the aromas of the red Grenache based fruits but as this wine spent time in my glass the black fruits from Shiraz started to come through more and more.  There are cedar hints and loads of subtle spices here.  The flavor profile was medium bodied wine that is easy drinking now.  The darker fruits dominate and there is wonderful soft tannins that will strengthen the drink now-ability of this wine.

2010 Reserve Shiraz

Good to see this is a blend with 7% Grenache and 3% Cabernet to provide what I suspect to be a much better balanced wine that it would have been as a straight Shiraz.  Well, what can I say – this is Shiraz as it should be!  Black concentrated fruits with subtle spices of cardamon and white pepper with just a hint of anise hanging around.  The mid palate is as it should be to give a great mouthfeel with such a wonderfully full, but not intrusive, tannin structure

2010 Eclipse

I was so looking forward to this Grenache based blend (45% Grenache, 35% Shiraz, 15% Grenaciano and 5% Cabernet) and I was not disappointed.  The glass exploded with red fruit aromas and I even got some blue fruit hints as the glass got close to my nose.  Lots of depth apparent here even from these aromas.  The flavors showed both balance and power – fruit character, smooth tannins, good acid length.  Everything seemed to be in balance with everything else – and even so I suspect this wine will get better over the next few years.  Sorry guys, I have 5 bottles and they will be mine and mine alone!

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