Wine reviews: The sands of time

You might have observed that this week we celebrated one other of these infernal worldwide days of a sure grape selection. They’re a dime a dozen lately, although this week’s hero, Grenache, was one of the originals – and there’s a good bit to rejoice about it, particularly in South Australia.
We have extra right here within the floor than anyplace else within the nation. And with that comes an enviable historical past and better understanding of what the variability can do in phrases of the place it grows at its most interesting, and what winemakers at the moment are doing to raise its vary of types and in the end its grandeur as one of the State’s and the nation’s actually nice crimson wine varieties.
It wasn’t too way back that Grenache was principally used within the fortified trade, earlier than evolving out of necessity into desk wines that at the beginning mirrored a typical varietal character in lighter to medium-bodied, principally sweet-fruited and jubey reds that “actual” crimson drinkers cherished to denigrate as flimsy and unsubstantial.
In the previous decade or so, Grenache shook off that poor-man’s popularity as winemakers and savvy wine shoppers realised the variability has much more to supply.
The rise in stature of one other crimson selection, Pinot Noir, main shopper traits in the direction of extra medium-bodied reds, in addition to the emergence of a variety of Mediterranean varieties becoming into that slot as nicely, has allowed Grenache to stake its declare in related territory, with the added and critically vital benefit of already being an vital half of our established vineyards in hotter climatic areas.
Now we see Grenache shifting up on this planet to tackle a extra revered standing. It’s thought-about by many, relying on the winery web site and winemaking concerned, to indicate the identical type of “terroir” traits as elite Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo.
For Grenache, the 2 areas which have taken the grape to the following stage are McLaren Vale and the Barossa. In the previous, one explicit district above others has grow to be synonymous with the most effective of the most effective – Blewitt Springs, which we’ll have a look at intimately at present. (In my subsequent column I’ll give attention to the Barossa.)
Winemakers, the restaurant and retail commerce and smarter drinkers have cottoned onto Blewitt Springs Grenache as one thing out of the field as a result of of fairly particular geographic, geological, climatic and viticultural parts that coalesce on this distinctive strip within the japanese foothills sector of McLaren Vale.
Elevation and cooler coastal breezes reasonable rising season temperatures. Sandy grounds, usually with crimson clay and ironstone beneath, inculcate Grenache with extraordinary perfume, flavour and complicated tannin profiles. And many vineyards have nurtured outdated, dry-grown bush vines for therefore lengthy that they’ve discovered what you would possibly name their “glad place” on this zone.
All of these important components have attracted many of the best producers to the district. Yangarra has been pivotal in elevating the profile of Blewitt Springs and the fine-wine popularity of Grenache, now proudly showcasing the variability as an elite participant through a number of of its iterations. Their assortment is topped by a top-shelf High Sands Grenache that retails for round  $250 per bottle.
There’s one thing in regards to the readability of flavour from Grenache on sand – it’s actually brilliant and pure.
The wines included within the Tasting Notes beneath are nice examples of the district’s most interesting Grenache, many now commanding related costs to equally elite wines from extra recognised SA varieties.
S.C. Pannell has been working this territory through a longtime grower for near a decade, not too long ago shopping for their very own property block. Chalk Hill has introduced glory to the place with its Alpha Crucis label that was awarded finest Grenache (and blends) within the not too long ago printed 2023 Halliday Australian Wine Companion.
Other producers of be aware tapping into Blewitt Springs vineyards embody Thistledown, Aphelion, Ministry of Clouds, Bondar, Willunga 100 and Paralian, simply to call just a few. Even distant winemakers like Vanguardist’s Michael Corbett, primarily based within the Barossa, recognise the world as one of uncommon alternative.
Notably, if ever there was proof of the regard wherein Blewitt Springs is regarded, the much-admired Adelaide Hills-based crew at Shaw + Smith have bought a winery within the gown circle of the district, naming it MMAD Vineyard after its proprietors Michael Hill Smith MW, Martin Shaw, Adam Wadewitz and David LeMire MW. They have simply launched three wines from their first 12 months within the space, together with a most spectacular Grenache, a really good Chenin Blanc and a classy Shiraz.
Blewitt Springs Grenache, particularly, has an intrinsic worth and high quality to it, LeMire says.
“People are an increasing number of understanding the district has one thing particular about it, and there’s nonetheless much more to go on that entrance,” he says. He factors to the freshness, the fragrance and perfume, and a particular palate construction in lots of of the district’s wines, and now the MMAD Grenache as nicely, that “mirror the distinctive terroir of Blewitt Springs and the outdated vines that thrive there”.
It’s this sort of terroir element that has propelled the world’s Grenache into cellars of extremely regarded collectors in addition to onto restaurant lists the place there’s some severe thought given to wines of such calibre from everywhere in the world, LeMire notes.
“We’ve seen the capability of Grenache to make wines of nice magnificence and age-ability,” he says.
“We’ve seen that in France, and right here it’s a comparatively new frontier – and it’s very thrilling.”
Put merely, an entire lot of components appear to return collectively on this one space, says Tom Harvey of Chalk Hill Wines.
“I see it because the nirvana with regards to a Grenache-growing location,” he says.
For probably the most dedicated producers, even whereas there is perhaps a normal district expression of terroir in Grenache, a good tighter give attention to particular winery websites is now occurring. That is the Holy Grail for probably the most prized wines, right here and all world wide.
Even although that is the primary launch of MMAD Grenache, its winemakers level to particular soil and geological components at their winery – sand over a layer of ironstone pebbles – that give each fragrance and construction to the wine. Flavours they be aware as raspberry coulis and pomegranate alongside fennel seed and cumin can also grow to be site-specific signatures sooner or later.
These nuances usually are not out of the bizarre. Skye Salter is winemaker at Willunga 100 which sources Grenache from two vineyards in Blewitt Springs and one other within the close by Clarendon district, in addition to co-proprietor/winemaker with companion Charlie Seppelt in their very own Paralian model out of one other winery. She notes a variety of completely different Grenache characters coming from every.
“There’s a reasonably apparent distinction that I see between Blewitt Springs and Clarendon blocks,” Salter says. “I at all times see the Blewitt Springs as having actually good fruit density and fairly lifted aromatics, typically crimson fruits like raspberry, and at all times a little bit extra flamboyant than Clarendon.
“Clarendon at all times has some fairly floral notes and an underlying earthy tone, nearly a little bit broody and doesn’t surrender all its secrets and techniques as simply as Blewitt Springs.
“There’s one thing in regards to the readability of flavour from Grenache on sand – it’s actually brilliant and pure.”
While rather a lot of characters are constant all through Blewitt Springs, she says, how unique they’re from level to level stays inconclusive. However, from the Marmont Vineyard, the place she and Seppelt supply their Paralian Grenache, one factor is particular.
“We get a scrumptious pomegranate character from that web site – it’s at all times that and a Campari be aware and beautiful tannins.”
That very particular winery footprint – which is ready to elevate wine to its highest regard – will not be misplaced on Yangarra winemaker Peter Fraser. The two most interesting examples of Grenache he steers out of the property’s vineyards on the japanese stretches of the Blewitt Springs district – the High Sands and the Ovitelli – come from shut neighbouring blocks, the previous on the deepest of the sands producing solely half the yield of the latter, which ends up in a wine, he notes, of better energy and complexity although nonetheless with lots of perfume.
The Ovitelli is the property’s most perfumed and more energizing, elegant fashion. The winemaking is completely different for every, the Ovitelli spending its fermentation and maturation in giant ceramic egg-shaped vessels, whereas the High Sands contains giant, older oak maturation that brings an even bigger body and extra muscle to the completed wine.
Being in a position to showcase such variety of web site and elegance has satisfied Fraser that the area has earned the sort of home and world respect different nice Grenache areas have gained, like Chateauneuf-du-Pape in France and Priorat in Spain.
“But we don’t want to match ourselves anymore,” Fraser says.  “We at the moment are ourselves – we will take our place among the many nice wines of the world.”
Part 2 of this sequence, Barossa Grenache, shall be printed right here on October 1.

MMAD Grenache 2021
Blewitt Springs – McLaren Vale / 14% / $75
The very first thing to notice is the entrance label, which specifies solely Blewitt Springs as its supply. An announcement proper there. And as a primary launch it’s actually nice now and extremely promising for what’s going to come from a wine that already reveals many of the variability’s desired tensions and harmonies: perfume that’s vigorous and pure, then a set of flavours from crimson berry to a barely earthier fruit vibe that the winemakers be aware as pomegranate. A way of Middle Eastern spice provides further curiosity and assists within the advantageous, dusted tannin really feel, with out distracting from the wine’s underlying freshness and power. Exciting instances.
S.C. Pannell Old McDonald Grenache 2020
McLaren Vale – Blewitt Springs / 14% / $70
From 78-year-old, dry-grown, bush vines, with 23% entire bunches included, gently steered within the vineyard into bigger and older oak vats for maturation, remaining unfiltered. All that is to say that crafting this wine is about permitting it to specific its personal identification from that supply with as little interference as potential. In the glass, this interprets to a wafting perfume first, crimson licorice notes, faint fennels, adopted by the drinking-in of neatly ascendant, ripened crimson fruits, all supported with lip-smacking palate power and mouthcoating fine-grained tannins, lingering as if for eons. Bloody improbable.
Paralian Grenache 2021
McLaren Vale – Blewitt Springs / 14% / $42
Paralian is crafted by Skye Salter and companion Charlie Seppelt, sourced from the Marmont Vineyard deep throughout the district. Aromas come up in a well-known Blewitt Springs set of fragrances: crushed crimson berries, native bush florals, dusty darkish spices, and because the winemakers counsel themselves, a pomegranate-like be aware – for me, the pith in addition to the seed-flesh. There’s pepper too, pink and white corns within the combine. The palate is tense and but to indicate all its complexities, tightened by a carpet of advantageous tannins that promise a formidable longevity. Very good wine and an excellent funding.
Chalk Hill Alpha Crucis Blewitt Springs Grenache 2021
McLaren Vale – Blewitt Springs / 14% / $60
The earlier 2020 classic of this wine was topped Best Grenache (and Blends) within the present 2021 Halliday Companion, so there’s lots of pleasure for the follow-up, sourced from the identical 90-year-old vines on Schuller Road close to the japanese extremities of the district. The perfume is according to sub-regional expectations, maybe a little bit extra zip in its fragrant berry zing, and the palate follows the identical set of clues, reverbing that crimson fruit tang, energised and lip-smacking with vibrant acidity. A extra electrical fashion that ought to evolve over a few years.
Yangarra Ovitelli Grenache 20020
McLaren Vale – Blewitt Springs / 14.5% / $75
One of a number of Yangarra Grenache iterations, this one distinctive in its ceramic, egg-shaped vessel winemaking in addition to particular person block sourcing. Fragrance parameters sit in a well-known body – bush florals meet crushed berry, meets kitchen herbs, particularly dried thyme. Keep swirling the glass and also you’ll disappear into its vapours, as you’ll whenever you sip, all these aromatics echoing as flavour whirlpools within the mouth, coated with a reasonably respectable cloud of advantageous tannins which might be pliable sufficient to nonetheless enable the wine’s inherent juiciness and spice-like seasoning to stay entrance and centre. There’s so much to calculate right here in addition to the pure expression of the variability at its most pleasing. Let it sit within the glass. Let it dwell. It’s beautiful.

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La Petite Vanguard Grenache 2021
McLaren Vale – Blewitt Springs / 12.7% / $30
While primarily based within the Barossa, winemaker Michael Corbett nonetheless has a knack of tapping into treasured regional/varietal tales across the state together with this very good Blewitt Springs Grenache. There’s a reasonably trendy method right here, early harvesting in addition to later picks, then 60% entire bunch inclusion for some complexity and considerate pores and skin maceration as nicely. The wine is in a younger exuberant fashion, medium-bodied and vigorous, however definitely not easy, holding inside it a hidden energy with earthy, saline, crushed rock meets crushed berry feels couched in frivolously chewable, spicy tannins that makes you need for extra. Definitely a mode assertion value its place within the squad.
Willunga 100 Trott Vineyard Grenache 2021
McLaren Vale – Blewitt Springs / 14.5% / $55
This comes from a treasured winery on the western aspect of the Blewitt Springs district – 60-year-old vines at 210m above sea stage. Aromas listed below are extra berry targeted at first than others on this set, although the matrix turns into more and more complicated and interesting because the wine dwells within the glass. In different phrases, decant for an hour or so and also you’ll be most rewarded. Spice, unique and aromatic, anise most positively, are all half of the preliminary assembly, after which a delightfully juicy palate follows, balanced then with nearly tangy, sticky tannins fairly than dusty and coating. Very drink-easy in fashion but nonetheless with intrigue within the flavour notes and pressure within the construction and end. Exceptionally moreish. A wine that lures you again for second and third pours as extra parts unfold over time.

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About the Author: Jessica