Category Archives: Australian Grenache

Jan 01 2017

McLaren Vale’s Yangarra Estate: Lifting grenache to new heights

Posted on January 01, 2017 | By merrill@cellarit.com

But the old saying ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ seems particularly apt for describing McLaren Vale’s response over the last couple of decades to a changing climate. This South Australia region, framed by Adelaide to the north, the Mt Lofty Ranges to the east and south, and the Gulf St Vincent to the west, has developed a well-earned reputation for innovation. According to the Wine Advocate’s Lisa Perrotti-Brown “perhaps more so than any other GI in Australia, [McLaren Vale] has made huge strides towards clearly defining and differentiating itself in recent years with remarkable results that can be tasted in the wines.” (Australia’s McLaren Vale: Geological Wines by Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate 28 February 2014)

One of the leaders in a McLaren Vale trend towards specialisation is Yangarra Estate, a single-vineyard estate devoted solely to producing wines from the best grape varieties of the southern Rhone, which lies on the north-west Mediterranean coast. Like many other McLaren Vale wineries Yangarra believes that McLaren Vale has the “the best Mediterranean climate on Earth.”

Purchased by Jackson Family Wines in 2000, an international wine group that also owns the renowned Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard, Yangarra now spans 420 acres with 250 acres of certified biodynamically-farmed vineyards. The rest of the land is preserved as native vegetation, creeks and natural corridors.

Veteran winemaker Peter Fraser, who assisted the Jackson Family with its acquisition of Yangarra, was appointed Head Winemaker in 2001. Last year he received one of Australias most prestigious winemaking awards, the 2016 James Halliday Winemaker of the Year.

Working closely for many years with vineyard manager Michael Lane, the pair have been evaluating the potential of lesser known or rare Rhone red varieties including  cinsaut, carignan, graciano, counoise and muscardin, picpoul noir, terret noir and vaccarese,  and … Read the rest

Sep 09 2016

Agathist Alchemy: New Barossa label from Torbreck winemaker Chris Isbel

Posted on September 09, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Tomorrow is International Grenache Day. Even though grenache is one of the most widely planted red grape varieties in the world it’s still considered a bit of an unsung hero?

As a lover of Rhône wines and especially Châteauneuf-du-Pape, of which grenache is typically the dominant grape, I applaud efforts to help the variety become more widely appreciated!

In Australia winemakers are doing wonderful things with grenache. Take Barossa based Agathist Alchemy, a fairly new label from Torbreck senior winemaker Chris Isbel. Chris has just released two grenache wines from the 2015 vintage: the early drinking style Agathist Alchemy First Wine ($31.95) and the cellar worthy Agathist Alchemy Second Wine ($57.95) – a wine that is matured in puncheons for about 9 -12 months before bottling.

Chris is keen to create wines that reflect the essence of old vine Barossa grenache; hence the unusual name of his label. ‘Agathist’, by the way, is someone who believes that all things tend toward the greater good (sounds like a very helpful philosophy!). By making the wines in a very minimalist way – eg. natural ferments, no additives except a small bit of sulphur after a malolactic fermentation – Chris relies on the grapes and the ferment to “choose their own path to greatness.”

A great lover of grenache, Chris believes it’s the most suited grape variety for the Barossa. He was delighted to secure the produce of an exceptional vineyard of mature grenache vines, owned by his friend and vigneron Nick Radford.

Nick organically farms his one hectare Seppeltsfield vineyard, where the soils of heavy red clay have lots of blue stones scattered throughout. These 60 plus year old low yielding dry grown vines produce fully ripe fruit with concentrated flavours. Add Chris’s feather touch approach to winemaking, and the results … Read the rest

Nov 11 2010

Grenache: Standing Tall as a Single Variety Wine!

Posted on November 11, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Chateau Tanunda recently picked up the Single Estate Red Wine Trophy for The Everest Old Bushvine Grenache 2008 at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London. The IWSC is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world, so the trophy represented a big win for Chateau Tanunda. Here’s what the judges had to say about the wine:

Dark crimson purple to rim. Wow! What a seductive nose! The characters are almost decadent in their exotic power. Old vine complexity shines through here. Crushed raspberry, asian spice, loganberries, sandlewood, lavendar, chocolate mints, fruitcake, framboise, ferrous earth, leather, coal, cocoa bean … the list could be endless. Full bodied, lavishly rich and compelling in the mouth, layers that wash again and again over the palate, changing in ever more complex ways. Well. This is one of the most thrilling wines I have ever tasted.

I was intrigued that a single variety grenache had won because on its own grenache doesn’t seem to be a popular wine style. In fact, Neal Martin of the Wine Advocate argues that “the absence of a global grenache icon is something that hampers respect and recognition of the variety.” Grenache is typically used as a blending variety, think Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but as Martin observes “pure grenache is more common in Australia where clusters of ancient vines provide more incentive to bottle the vineyard separately.” (The Unsung Chameleon Next Door: Grenache Symposium 2010, Grenache: Playboy Or Nobleman? by Neal Martin, eRobertParker.com, September 2010).

Even so, only a handful of Australian wine producers make a single variety grenache. d’Arenberg in McLaren Vale is unusual in the sense that it is somewhat of a grenache specialist. Its portfolio contains eight wines with a grenache component and two single variety labels, The Custodian and The Derelict Vineyard. … Read the rest