McLaren Vale is blessed by a number of factors that have created the thriving region we know today. With a warm, dry climate coupled with cooling breezes off the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Gulf St Vincent, and an array of soil types (some of which date back hundreds of millions of years), it's no wonder McLaren Vale winemakers have been so successful.
The region's nearly 200-year history of winemaking hasn't resulted in a lack of innovation however. Today, it is home to a diverse range of varieties and styles, as shown by the four wines below.
2020 Wirra Wirra RSW ShirazFruits are scented with mulberry, dried figs, cinnamon, and clove. On the nose, the swell of brooding spice, charcuterie, and rich black fruit is held in place by an undertow of fine French oak and dark chocolate. The palate contrasts ripe, generous fruit with linearity and purposeful structure. Deep satsuma plums, French polish, and vibrant acid line are signature in style. Powdery tannins leave a lengthy finesse.
Chief winemaker Emma Wood says: Our 2020 RSW is sourced from three old blocks of shiraz, all between 47 and 60 years old at the time of harvest. Two of the blocks are from our own Sandhill Vineyard, House Block and 73 Block. House Block fruit is darker with assertive structure, while 73 Block is more savoury and textured, adding layers to the blend. The remainder of the fruit for this release of RSW comes from a treasured vineyard in Blewitt Springs. The cooler site gives red and blue fruits with powdery tannins and spice. When blended these vineyards allow us to express the elegant, yet generous RSW style and showcase the wonderful vineyards we source from.
H. What do you love about making wine in McLaren Vale?
EW. McLaren Vale is one of the most beautiful wine regions in Australia. The warm climate gives a consistency to each vintage not seen in many other places and the maritime influence moderates the hottest days and gives me the ability to harvest our red grapes when the tannins are fully mature, yet also retain freshness and varietal purity, hallmarks of the Wirra Wirra style.
Suggested food pairing: Chargrilled skirt steak, medium rare, thinly sliced. Accompanied by grilled eggplant, portobello mushrooms, olive oil, dried herbs, salt and black pepper.
2021 Thicker Than Water Squid Ink ShirazBlackberry and blueberry bursts with a dusty oak and savoury character undertone on the nose. The palate is timeless and stacked with layers of flavour. Firm but grounded tannins lead the march, wrapped in a swath of fruits and spice. Complex and intriguing, expressive and delicious.
Senior winemaker Campbell Greer says: Our estate-owned vineyard is the epitome of what defines one of the greatest vineyards in Australia, where the famous Black Bay of Biscay clay soil consistently ensures fantastic depth of colour and flavour. Positioned at about 120 metres above sea level and eight kilometres inland, this north/south facing vineyard in the heart of McLaren Vale is referred to by some local friends as ‘Mayfair’. The results speak for themselves, with our 2021 Squid Ink Shiraz winning AWC Vienna World's Best Shiraz Trophy (the world's largest officially recognised wine show).
H. How would you describe your wines and how do they reflect the region?
CG. We believe that shiraz is the true hero wine of the McLaren Vale wine region, as not only does it grow amazingly well here, but the variety is so diverse – from the vineyard site to the countless variables a winemaker has in the winery. We allow the customer to explore this with three shiraz wines we have on offer.
Suggested food pairing: Juicy, medium-rare kangaroo steak with red wine vinegar salad, including beetroot and coriander.
2019 Samson Tall Hatwell Single Vineyard Grenache78yo bush vines on meagre, sandy Blewitt Springs silica soils. The usual approach: 70/30 per cent whole berry/bunch, ambient-yeast ferment and raised in 1500L foudre for 12 months following 14 days on skins. A stunning wine! Cherry skin, raspberry bon-bon, mint, thyme, rosemary and a slew of other iterations of dried herb. Dense, incredibly compact and firm, yet air in the glass eases the fray into a sheer pleasure zone. – Ned Goodwin MW, Halliday Wine Companion.
Winemaker and owner Paul Wilson says: Our wines are made in a style that suits the climate and food lifestyle of the region. Medium-bodied and savoury, they suit the Mediterranean climate of McLaren Vale and complement the modern, lighter food style of the region.
H. What do you love about making wine in McLaren Vale?
PW. McLaren Vale is a world-class wine and food region; very compact in a tourism sense, great boutique accommodation, outstanding restaurants and the best beaches. I love going for a swim at the beach with the kids after work, or playing golf instead of going to work.
Suggested food pairing: Anything from The Little Rickshaw in Aldinga.
Battle of Bosworth Puritan ShirazBrilliant colour, spicy red and blue fruits leaping out of the glass; it is such an incredibly vibrant wine. On the palate, fresh red and blue fruits are wrapped in a lively medium-bodied structure. Drink whenever you want to – Puritan has been designed to drink young and fresh.
Winemaker Joch Bosworth says: Bosworth wines are fresh, juicy and bright and show terrific regional characteristics. We use super French oak in making some of the wines (not all are oaked), but always judiciously. The reds all have great longevity too, for those customers that have the space and desire to squirrel some away for later on. We have something for everyone here at Battle of Bosworth, including our two resident customer service dogs, Tigger the dachshund and Oscar the labradoodle.
H. Can you tell us about your vineyards or the sites you source from?
JB. Our vineyards were planted by my parents back in the early 1970s – and then we planted more together in the 1980s. Our wines are 100 per cent estate grown, meaning that we only source grapes from our own vineyards. I began our organic journey in the mid 1990s when I returned from working in wineries in the USA and now all our vineyards have been certified organic since 1999. I have been tending these vines since I was a teenager and know each block like the back of my hand.
Food pairing suggestion: Pair with peposo, a Tuscan red wine stew.