Tag Archives: Taste McLaren Vale

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 Wines – Unearthing Wine

Taste McLaren Vale is working with the Unearthing Wine group from Adelaide to unearth new wines and new wine lovers.  We are looking to produce small run wines under the Unearthing Label.  Let Charlie (from Unearthing) explain all about the concept below.

Unearthing Wine Lovers; Wine Label

The wine industry is highly competitive across South Australia, and in fact, the world. There have been long term issues around the general economy, wine gluts, export doom, and storage costs, and so the industry is doing it hard. We hear that. But let’s face it, wine lovers love fun, and they also love sharing and gathering socially, enjoying a good wine with friends.
So, it’s time to unearth for our wine lovers, some good wine.

Recent news suggests we currently drink less, but what we are drinking is of better value. This is good news; however, some would argue that at times like the tight economy we currently face, we drink more! Regardless, Charlie-Helen Robinson, Founder of Unearthing explains that there are very good ways to get your hands on a good wine, at a very good price.

She says, “I hear stories of people getting good wine deals, and yet no one was beating down my door. I don’t believe there should be compromise on what we are drinking in hard times, so it was time to take action and bring it to my own door myself, and to then share with all. I believe we have a great offering.”

Charlie’s wine group is generally described as “a relaxed group of wine lovers, talented experts and enthusiastic amateurs” and they’re betting that since wine is something you continually buy, you won’t mind them unearthing a general brand that maintains exceptional value and quality for you.

Previously available to only those in the know or as ‘mates rates’, Charlie has partnered with Shane Barker of Taste McLaren Vale (again) to launch a new label doing just that. The Unearthing Wine Series will roll out one bottle at a time, pairing wines from “limited-allocation, highly acclaimed vineyards in South Australia”, with long standing friendly characters well known in the wine group social circles.

Charlie says “It is rewarding to be able to share exceptional deals with our members and to know they are getting good value wines. With over 1000 members worldwide, we believe we have found a winning formula for unearthing wine experiences, yet we are never content to sit back and rest on our wine corks. This is just a journey that continues to unearth. This is just another crossing.

Charlie’s wine group has been unearthing wine and unique wine experiences since 2007. And she isn’t stopping!

The first wine to hit the market’s is named after Charlie herself.

Charlie’s Sav or more formally, a 2013 Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc

Best served chilled relaxing under the summer sunshine, wearing a string bikini with a smile

Unearthing Sauvignon Blanc

McLaren Vale Wines – 2013 Vintage Report

Well Vintage in McLaren Vale is all but over (I suspect that some grapes destined for fortified wine are still to be picked) and it is time to reflect on the Vintage.

The lead up to the Vintage period was looking so good it had us all salivating.  The winter rains had subsoil moisture levels higher than previously recorded.  This meant that the vines did not need watering until quite deep into Summer.  The beginning of Summer was quite mild with little rain that indicated a potential for a long ripening period for the grapes.  No storm activity was also appreciated by the vines.  Leading into January I was hearing that the coming vintage was shaping up to be even better than 2012 (2012 was considered by many as being the best vintage conditions for the last 15 to 20 years).

McLaren Vale Shiraz (Marius Vineyard)

Then came January and February with high temperatures and effectively no rain.  This combination brought on grape maturity very quickly.  An example of this was at the Marius Vineyard where picking was organised for early March but had to be brought forward by 2 weeks due to the high rates of sugars developing quickly.

The order of grapes being picked was also different than “normal”.  In most years white wine varieties are picked before red wine varieties.  Well this year we had Shiraz frequently picked before any white grapes from the same property.

Grape De-stemmer

With the hot weather and the quick development of the grapes the wineries were stretched with a compressed time frame to process a below average volume of grapes.  No sooner had fermenters emptied they were filled again.  It was tight and long hours were to be had but I believe most if not all grapes that were supposed to be picked were.

The result was a number of very tired people working long hours to make what looks to be a high quality wine.  The key to this vintage seemed to be keeping close eye on the vineyards and picking at the right time and having the capacity in the winery to cope with the compressed time frames.  There will be some excellent wines come from this vintage but at this stage the overall analysis would be not as good as 2012.

Pressing the Barbuckle Project Shiraz

One pivotal milestone for the 2013 was that I have made a small volume of wine – the Barbuckle Project Shiraz.  More on his one later.

Backpacker’s McLaren Vale Style

One area I would like to put my opinion out there is all about the back packers who descend on McLaren Vale.  For the first time I met some of these people and got to know a little about what they do.  Most of the above group come from Europe and are traveling around Australia.  These people want to pick the grapes so earn some money to survive on while backpacking.  There seems to be a limited number of Aussies who want to pick the grapes – it is hard work for people that have not done it before.  I picked grapes 2 days this year and I was totally stuffed by the end of the day.  There is a tide of distain for these backpackers, like they should not be here.  So here is the thing – who else is going to pick the grapes?  Who else is going to go home to speak about the interesting times they had in Australia and what wonderful wines they tried here?  Who else is going to look for the wines that were made from the grapes they picked?

I would like to put it out there that we should welcome these people here during vintage – maybe we should create some facility where they can stay with their old Combi Vans, where they can have a shower and not be hounded to move on when they find a place to stay over night.

This year a met a few of these people (see the picture above) and they are wonderful people wanting to experience this beautiful country of ours (who would blame them) and to do this earn some money doing something that most of us do not want to do.  I do not have all the answers and yes I understand these are general statements but lets see how we can do this better next year.  You never know the group above, and others like them, may spark the next generation of world wide Australian Wine drinkers!

Buy McLaren Vale Wine – Backyard Shed Cru Tasting Pack #8

Red Pack #8

2010 Ducks in a Row Straight Up Mataro

From a vineyard near Willunga (in the McLaren Vale region) and was matured in 7 year old oak.  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.  There are side dishes of Mulberry and maybe even some rhubarb.  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.

2008 Thorpe Wines Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Made from estate grown from the vineyard on the corner of Malpas and California roads (on the flat between McLaren vale and Willunga).  When I try this wine I have one word resonating – balanced.  All elements are balanced and not one thing over powers any other.  The aromas show the expected black current with ironstone, slate and black olives.  The flavours are smooth but show strength – black current, slate, black olives, and cedar notes.  The tannins are there but not over powering.  The one unusual element I get is the iodine character.  This characteristic seems to be a trait of this particular vineyard.  All in all a smart effort.

2010 Sabella J. Petrucci and Son Shiraz

I have tried the last 3 vintages of Shiraz that Michael Petrucci has made and I think each year has been better than the last.  This wine made the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Project for 2010 wines.  I suppose one should make good or better wine from the 2010 vintage, but I get a sense of more.  I get the feeling that Michael is getting to understand his craft and his raw materials (grapes from his father’s vineyard) better. The wine shows the aromas expected from Shiraz and a mild dose of white pepper.  I really enjoyed the strength brought on by the fruit as much as any oak treatments.  There is plenty of acid here also so the wine should last for ages.

2008 Zimmermann Shiraz

Made with love from the foothills of the Willunga escarpment.  The grapes sitting proud on the valley slopes in this small part of the McLaren Vale district that are tendered by a couple that are looking to enjoy a life of grape growing, wine making, selling and a good wholesome environment for a Bed and Breakfast style accommodation.  With wines like this they are doing a number of things right.  The 2008 vintage was hot and challenging and they got their fruit picked and processed before the heatwave did it’s damage.  The wine has the aromas of lifted plum with side servings of pomegranate, cherry and rhubarb plus just a sprinkle of white pepper.  The flavours followed plum and cherry up front with some integrated oak tannins and just a hint of licorice on the finish.  This wine has plenty of time left in it but why wait.  I had a bottle recently with a juicy steak, creamed potatoes and steamed beans – lovely.

2010 Marius Sympatico Shiraz

The grapes for this wine come from a wonderfully complex vineyard – the soils have been transported from the Willunga Escarpment down to the foothills below.  The soil is rocky and sparse and the vines do their bit by struggling through each year.  In 2010 I helped pick some of the grapes that went into making this wine.  Mr Marius Wines himself – Roger, does not allow me to purchase wines often to have them available for sale but I talked him into releasing a small amount.  The wine is all about power and as soon as you open the wine it hits you – brambly and dark plum with some course black pepper.  After leaving the wine in the glass for a while the wine transforms with some finesse appearing with lavender and cardamon.  The flavours are similar to the aromas lots of plum and bramble fruits with lavender and licorice coming through.  The tannins here have strength but not disruptive to the fruit – an interesting balance.  This wine really needs a few more years in the bottle or at least give the wine significant time in contact with air before you drink it.  We tried it the other day with a Beef Burgoyne which was a wonderful match.

2010 Fork in the Road Shiraz

Another wine from the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Project.  This wine from the Old Oval Estate is from a vineyard on Sand Road and has the same geology as the J. Petrucci & Sons wine also in this pack.  The wine aromas start off with cherry and blackberry fruits mixed with a dustiness of tannin.  The oak character is minimal here so I expect these tannins to be from the fruit (eg pips).  There is some vanilla coming through – an indication of American oak influence there.  This wine was so engaging that after smelling the wine my mouth was salivating.  Interestingly, after the first sip I was still hooked and wanted more – always a good sign.  The flavours were the same fruits on the front of the mouth and the oak and tannin on the back of the palate.  Not what a lot of people would call a classic wine but one I believe many people would just enjoy to drink.

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