Tag Archives: South Australia

McLaren Vale Wine – Ducks in a Row

 

Ducks in a Row Cellar Door

There is a relatively new cellar door in town near Port Willunga just off South Road.  If you are in the area on a weekend between 12 and 4 then I would suggest this is one to check out.  Ducks in a Row comes from the stylings of Glen and Amanda Pritchard and their enthusiastic dog Roger.  Glen is a very experienced winemaker who has worked in senior roles for the big guys in the industry and he has taken the opportunity to make his own wine from little known or alternate varieties and to let the wines speak for themselves instead of using massive amounts of oak character.  Amanda markets the wines and is involved with a number of wine and food initiatives.

The Ducks in a Row branding comes from a painting by Mirka Mora with parts of this painting being used on each of the wine labels (other than the Pandora).

Their cellar door is rustic and has a charm that makes me want to sit down and just talk about stuff for hours (which, if my memory is correct, I probably did on my visit).

Now the wines……..

2012 Vermentino ($25)

Mainly from Heathcote (Victoria) grapes and made in McLaren Vale.  The wine screams stone fruit from the glass even before it gets anywhere near ones nose.  The flavours are soft and subtle with a really interesting textural feel.  The texture probably comes from the natural ferment being kept on solids for an extended period of time.  This textual feel gives a weight to the wines finish – more than the “flavours”.  The structure of the wine screams out for food and can think of nothing better than scallops or oysters,

2011 Fiano ($25)

The Heathcote connection continues with the Fiano.  The grapes were naturally fermented and the wine spend 12 months sitting on the less.  No oak was used in the making so the wine spent the 12 months in stainless steel vats.  Another interesting point was the wine had no sulphur compounds added until bottling.  I find this wine so different again to main stream.  The wine is almost oily to start with and has a really impressive acid backbone.  Not a fruit driven wine I get basil and pine nut notes.  Again the food wine and the oiliness leads me towards char grilled sardines – my mouth is watering just thinking about this combination.

Ducks in a Row Pandora’s Amphora

2011 Pandora’s Amphora ($80)

Heathcote fruit again – a mixture of Vermentino, Fiano, Moscato Giallo all co-fermented naturally in a single amphora.  The Amphora is a clay vessel that has been traditionally used in some Italian wineries and seems to be making a surge in interest here.  I do not know if the Amphora makes a difference in the wine product, but at the very least is sounds good.  This wine was not tasted and the was just over 500 bottles produced.

Ducks in a Row red wines

2011 Nero D’Avola ($25)

Described by Glen (winemaker) as this wine is like “Pinot on steroids”.  The wine has only seen large old oak and spent considerable time on skins and lees – all in the name of complexity.  The theme here is to let the grapes do the talking as the wood plays such a minor part.  Interestingly the wine was served, on a mild day, slightly chilled.  The dark cherry fruits abound but there is a dried herb background to provide a savory wine with good clean acid but the textural feel to the wine makes the interest.  Only the second wine of this variety I have tried but I look forward to more.  Again a food wine – maybe with char grilled octopus.

2011 Temranillo Graciano Mataro ($25)

All McLaren Vale fruit with the Tempranillo (40%) from Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards, the Graciano (40%) from Battle of Bosworth and the Mataro (10%) from a grower in Willunga.  This wine has seen no new oak so again it is all about the grapes.  Redness comes from all over the place here – initially red currents and then into cherries.  I also get the distinct hint of cloves.  There is plenty of structure here which I suspect comes from the addition of the Mataro.  I would like to drink this with a food that has flavour as well as texture to match – maybe some chorizo sausages.

2010 Straight Up Mataro ($25)

From a vineyard near Willunga (in the McLaren Vale region) and was matured in 7 year old oak.  Again the wine making direction to show off the fruit and not just load it up with obvious oak tannins.  I get vanilla plums (maybe a plum stored in a jar with a vanilla bean) but there is also a hint of blue character that is most intriguing.  The grape tannins work to provide a well structured wine that has length on it’s side.  I am going to keep a few bottles to see how this wine will age.

McLaren Vale Wine – Noon Wines

November is a wonderful time of the year.  To many it is the lead up to the Festive Season and the warmer weather is really upon us.  For me December has 2 milestones.  Firstly, Grenache normally flowers during November – and as readers of my blogs would know I love good McLaren Vale Grenache.  Secondly, November signals that Noon Wines cellar door will be open for 3 weekends (the only time the cellar door is open for the year).

Noon Winery and Grenache Vineyard

I have had the pleasure of visiting this cellar door since the mid 1980’s when the current winery and vineyard custodians father owned and operated the facility.  In those days the cellar door was nearly every day and I have many wonderful memories of those times.  Now people either line up on the first day the cellar door is open (as the wine allocated to the general public is usually sold on the first day) or by allocation to the Noon Wines mailing list members.  This mailing list is so sought after that their is a waiting list for the Mailing List.

The wines are made from estate plantings – with one of my favorite old, dry grown Grenache vineyards, plus grapes sourced from long term growers from Langhorne Creek.

I have not included the price for the below wines as they are already sold out.

Noon Winery Equipment

2011 High Noon Rose

A move back to the Grenache based wine after the Shiraz dominant wine from 2010 – after 2010 Grenache crops being so low.  This move has produced what I think is the best Noon Rose for many years.  The Grenache shows through with he redness of ripe cherry and strawberries.  On the palate this fruit character is complemented by spices and there is one thing missing.  In a number of the Noon Rose wines over the years the alcohol level has been quite high, particularly for a Rose, but in this case the alcohol is not obtrusive.  I will be enjoying this wine with an antipasto plate.

2011 Twelve Bells

As with the Rose the previous vintage of the Twelve Bells was Shiraz dominant also in line with the Rose this vintage offering is all the better for the higher proportion of Grenache.  The aromas were somewhat closed however I got a sense of redness there.  The flavours show a mid weight offering with the expected red fruit spiciness and relatively minimal oak influence.  Bring on this summer BBQ’s.

2011 Eclipse

This is an example of why I love McLaren Vale Grenache or in this case a Grenache dominate blend.  A wine with spiced redness where oak character takes second stage but at the same time a wine with strength.  Some people believe Grenache based wines do not cellar well – this wine disagrees with that thought.  The wine is a bit tight now but I suspect a grand opening when about 6 or 7 years old.

2011 M2M

A one of wine called Minute to Midnight.  The 2011 Shiraz crop normally used by Noon’s was not available due to disease.  A chance meeting of friends between Drew and Paul Petagna when Paul had some Shiraz that needed to be picked straight away.  Hands were shook and the grapes were picked for this one of wine.  This is a massive wine that is very characteristic of the vineyard (I know Paul’s wines well).  Lots of deep plums, big tannins and chocolate finish.  A wine that needs time (I have tasted wines from the same vineyard that were 6 years old that were drinking magnificently) and drinking a bottle at about 8 years old sounds like an aim.  Not sure I can wait that long.

Museum Wines

2008 Reserve Shiraz

Smells a bit porty due to the ripe Shiraz fruit from a very hot vintage.  Tannins well balanced with the fruit.  If one wanted to be critical the wine shows over ripe characters however I enjoy drinking it.

2005 Reserve Shiraz

A wine all about the darkness – dark rich character but fresh Satsuma plum flavours.  Drinking well now and still time to go.

2002 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

A wine that sparked my interest if for no other reason than I have never before described a wine as having the aroma of dried dates and blackcurrent.  This wine was not tired at all – still plenty of time left in it.  Much of the tannin seems to have dropped out as a crust in the bottle as the wine was very smooth and long with an almost powdery finish.

2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Aromas of blackberry and chocolate make for an interesting beginning that has intense cassis flavours that just seem to last forever. Perfect to drink now with seared pork fillet.

2007 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Different again with interestingly floral (violets) aromas with the expected cassis.  The length on this wine is not as impressive as the 2005 Cabernet.

2002 Eclipse

I was excited to see this wine.  As a Grenache based wine, I wanted to see how the wine had aged as I have suggested before there is a view that Grenache based wines do not age well.  To start with I was concerned as I smelt a port like character but I should not have been so concerned as this “blew off” quickly to show a brambly depth with a red fruit wrapping.  The flavours were lighter than expected but showed balance, depth and character.  All Australian red wine drinkers should try wines like his to show what mature red wines are like.

2002 Vintage Port

Soft and silky liquid Christmas cake in a glass.  Just a sensational experience of a wine style that is not often produced.

McLaren Vale Wine – Lavina Wines

Lavina Wines have recently moved to their Blewitt Springs home in Beltunga Close.  This is an excellent part of McLaren Vale where wonderful vines produce some of McLaren Vale’s best wines.  The area is mainly covered in sand over peat moss and this combination works well.

The administration are is available for tastings by appointment only (contact info@lavinawines.com.au).  Lavina Wines have an interesting approach where they have targeted differing audiences with having a wide range of wines from the high volume Mitcham Estate range (marketed to the supermarket chains) through to the premium range that is targeted to asian markets and with various price levels in between.  In this way they have something for everybody.

The new estate has plantings of Cabernet Franc (40 and 20 years old) plus 10 year old Shiraz.  These vineyards are being revitalised and will form a part of the mix for future releases including Cabernet Franc as a varietal release.

View from Lavina Wines Cellar Door

The grapes are bought from contracted growers (a number of them in the Seaview area) that they work closely with and pay a premium for the grapes ie they are prepared to pay a premium for their insistence on how to look after some of the vines.  Most of the vineyards are either grown with organic or biodymanic principles.  The quality of the fruit is king here – it is not unusual for whole berry maceration in 2 tonne fermenters and after about 9 days in ferment the free run juice is separated with the remainder being foot stamped recombined and then basket pressed into french oak – larger puncheons are used.

As a general comment I find the Shiraz wines from Lavina very interesting as they show a very blue character which I am not used to.  I suspect it is due to either a specific clone, the outcome of a specific climate and geology or blending of a minor component of another variety or varieties – I am not sure which or all are relevent.

This is the second time I have tasted wines from Lavina Wines and I am continued to be impressed.  For red wine drinkers it would be difficult to not find something you liked at the price point you desire.  Well worth checking out.

And now the wines……..

lavina-bottles-300x113

Mitcham Estate

Shiraz, Shiraz Cabernet, Cabernet & Chardonnay (all $10)

Meritus-Shiraz2010-250x1024Meritus

2010 Shiraz ($20)

The aromas were somewhat difficult to get, all I was able to decipher was a little white pepper.  Then the McLaren Vale-ness kicked it on with the flavours – the pepper and plums on the front of the mouth and then chocolate and anise on the back palate.  The tannins were more pronounced than for the other wines tasted later and left the teeth feeling dry.  This wine has all the elements for a long life and if left for a year or 2 (at least) would pay dividends.

2010 Shiraz Grenache ($20)

At time of tasting this wine had been only bottled for 2 weeks.  With this the aromas were short (as was expected) – with oak based spices being dominant.  The flavours were another thing.  As expected, with Grenache, the wine was medium bodied.  What I was not expecting was the blue character of the fruit.  The spice from the aromas comes through as pepper and I was impressed with the length.  I suspect this wine will improve quickly over the next few months to become a real beauty and value a this price.

 

Gold Series

2010 ChGold-Series-Shiraz-BV-2010-317x1024ardonnay ($15)

Not tasted.

2010 Shiraz ($20)

The Barossa fruit shows all the classical element for the variety.  Cedar, plum and pepper aromas and then vibrant fresh plums and a clean acid fueled finish.  At this price it is a bargain and one should lap it up (even though it is not from McLaren Vale).

2010 Shiraz Cabernet ($20)

The fruit for this wine also comes from the Barossa.  Aromas of leather, cherry and plum indicate a young wine with a little something added to provide complexity – smart blending here.  The flavours show the expected blackcurrent up front and a finish of fresh plums.  the fruit is balanced well with the acid and tannins.  Another example of the classical Australian blend and it is good to see these good examples coming back into peoples thinking.

 

Elicere

Since the tasting a Cabernet Franc and a Grenache were due for release in this range.

2012 Riesling ($25)

Not tasted as it was not released at the time of tasting.  I note this is a Tasmanian wine and should be an interesting contrast to the McLaren Vale and a few Barossa wines.

2010 Grenache Shiraz ($35)

Straight away I could see this was a beauty.  Yes I enjoy Grenache based wines and I am told that Grenache is getting easier to sell – well this wine stands for why Grenache should be grown in McLaren Vale.  The aromas were like a waft of violets wrapped around star anise.  The flavours and mid weight palate show Grenache elegance of the red fruits and the soft tannin structure.  Even though the structure was soft is was lingering with the elements of violets, mint and a hint of meatiness.  “Bring it on”, I say.

While I was at the tasting the news came through that this wine had just won a gold medal at the 2012 Melbourne Wine Show – I would have to agree with the judges this wine is terrific.

2010 Shiraz ($35)

I find Shiraz from this winery very intriguing as there is an element of blue fruits on both the aroma and flavours.  I expect this is due to the Shiraz clone that the fruit comes from.  There is a spice mix here that mixes well with the licorice, plum and cedar notes.  Another element I have come to expect from this stable is the cleaver use of oak that provides a soft finish.  Hard to go past my written notes about this wine – “lovely”.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon ($35)

Firstly I can report there is no element of greenness that I find in many Cabernet wines.  So far so good.  Clean and clear blackcurrent fruit here with a bouquet of mixed dried herbs.  I know this is only a few words but I really like this wine.

Limited Releases

2010_Lavina_Aurum 2009 The Aurum Release Shiraz ($50)

Aromas of blue fruits (again) and satsuma plums mixed with red licorice (never said that before).  The flavours show lovely lifted fruit (satsuma plum) with the usual blueness.  Hints of lavender polished the dry and dusty tannin finish.

2010 The Aurum Release Shiraz ($50)

So different to the 2009 Aurum!  The aromas were dominated by spices, lavender and violets.  Compared to the 2009 this wine is so much fuller with plums and licorice.  The wine is very structural with an interesting textural mouthfeel and a supporting tannin finish.  Classy.

 

 

2009 Grand Royale Shiraz ($120)

I found the aromas very similar to the 2009 The Aurum with herbs, plum and licorice.  The flavours show a difference with a distinct darkness (from the depth of plum fruit) and supporting tannins.  An elegant or even velvet wine that just screams out to drink a second glass – and well why not.

2010 Grand Royale Shiraz ($120)

Not a big nose here and mainly herbs but the flavours showed more dark chocolate and licorice with soft tannins.  In a word seamless.  Highly enjoyable and well worht checking out

2010 Grand Royale Cabernet Sauvignon ($95)

Cabernet and I have not always seen eye to eye – well this wine may have just changed this view.  There is a whole package here that is just a joy to consume.  Consume is not the right word – maybe experience.  There is the usual blackcurrent with some mint and dried herbs with an emphasis on lavender.  Silky smooth tannins and balanced acid leads to a wine that just screams out to enjoy the experience.  Match it with some lamb roast and I will be there!

McLaren Vale Wine – Vale Cru Winetasting

There is one tasting I look forward to each year.  Due to circumstances beyond my control I have not been able to attend the last 2 years so I was looking forward to the November 2012 Vale Cru wine tasting held on the grounds of he Victory Hotel.

This year things were different.  I had tickets and transport organised (I was not going to taste and drive) plus I was attending with 2 friends from Melbourne who were visiting McLaren Vale for the first time.  As both were wine drinkers I could not think of a better way of showing them what McLaren Vale could do than showing the wines of the Vale Cur members.  As a bonus there was a chocolate and cheese tasting added just for good measure.

Vale Cru winemakers and tasters in their natural habitat

The sun was shining and the wind was blowing straight off the ocean – the combination was good for the punters but the wind was a little troublesome for the winery staff who were trying to keep tasting notes etc on the tables.  All in all the stage was set for an excellent afternoon.  On arrival we received a wine glass (which we were able to keep) a plank of wood (which was a modified oak barrel stave) that was notched so to hold the wine glass, a pencil and a wine list.  There was also an opportunity to go into a competition to match chocolate and the wines available for tasting.  I was also impressed with the cheese and cut french stick breads that were available.  There were impressive but I was there for the wine.  The list of small wineries that make up the Vale Cru is impressive with:-

Brash Higgins

Ulithorne

Waywood Wines

Battle of Bosworth

Lazy Ballerina

Rudderless

Five Geese

Geddes Wines

Noon Wines

La Curio

Old Faithful

Vigna Bottin

Samuels Gorge

J&J Wines

Inkwell

Maximus

 Before I talk about some of the wines, I should discuss what the Vale Cru is all about.  It is my opinion that the heart and sole of any wine producing region is the small producer.  The people that strive for above all else quality.  It is with these producers that the gems are produced.  These wines are not the usual liquor store fodder – the liquor stores seem to have shelves full of the same old stuff that has been generated from the big factory wineries that dominate the Australian wine scene.  These small producers invariability have the one thing that sets them apart – the love that goes into making these wines.

Each winery had 3 wines available for tasting and as many of these wineries are very familiar to me then I knew many of the wines.  There was too many wines for me to taste them all however there were many highlights from the wines we tasted – some notes below.

2011 Battle of Bosworth Chardonnay ($25)

I applaud the use of oak here.  Oak plays a support role and s not overpowering, but this support is important for quality Chardonnay.  The melon and peach fruits are here as well and I was also impressed with the cad levers in this wine.  The crispness found here is not always found in white wines that have gone through Malolactic acid fermentation thus I suspect this wine has little or no secondary fermentation.  There are a number of very poor Chardonnay wines available today but this wine is certainly not one of them.  I would prefer this over a Sauvignon Blanc any day.

2007 Rudderless Wines Malbec ($35)

Not a usual varietal wine but the blackness of the fruit comes through really well.  If you get a chance then check it out.

2010 Tim Geddes Experimental Grenache ($33)

Readers of this blog know I enjoy a good Grenache and this is one of them.  The redness and fruit power is enticing.  Let it drag you in!

2010 Five Geese Grenache Shiraz ($24)

Vibrant fruit with a side order of cedar oak.  The black and red fruit shine through at different times when you taste this wine which provides the wine drinker some intrigue.

2008 Ulithorne Frux Frugis Shiraz ($45)

This wine is all about the liquorice.  Classy McLaren Vale Shiraz that will last for a long time – if you let it.

2009 Brash Higgins “SHZ” Shiraz ($37)

This wine just surprises with the mouth finish of blood orange.  One may expect this from a Nebbiolo but not a Shiraz.  Another wine that is classy and different – the essence of what the Vale Cru is all about.

Brash Higgins Wines

Purchasing McLaren Vale Wines – Backyard Shed Cru #7 Tasting Videos

Well I finally got all the Backyard Shed Cru #7 tasting videos and I thought I had better share them with you.

Remember you can join the Backyard Shed Cru via the Taste McLaren Vale Membership page (click here).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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