Category Archives: McLaren Vale

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

Aug 08 2015

Biodynamic Winemaker named Winemaker of 2016 by James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion

Posted on August 08, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The uptake of organic and biodynamic winemaking practices is now a growing worldwide trend. Australian wine writer Max Allen recently reported that even in Marlborough, the epicentre for commercially grown sauvignon blanc, organic and biodynamic viticulture is being adopted on a large scale. (The Other Side of Marlborough by Max Allen, JancisRobinson, 3 August 2015).

The move away from chemically reliant farming strikes me as good news for both the consumer and the environment. Nigel Sowman, vineyard manager of Marlborough’s Dog Point, told Allen that organic conversion has been very important for improving quality and demand for his grapes.

Yangarra Estate wineryFor Yangarra, a 100 acre vineyard focussed exclusively on the varieties of the southern Rhone, a biodynamic approach has led to brighter fruit qualities in the wine, naturally lower alcohol levels and an overall impression of better ‘terroir’ or sense of place expression.

Fraser and Lane believe that improved vineyard health is another pleasing consequence of the rigours associated with acquiring and maintaining Biodynamic A certification. Because the use of industrially made chemicals is prohibited, promoting biologically rich soils and resilient vines are absolutely paramount for preventing and controlling disease.  More ethereal qualities, like positive energy and emotion emanating from the vineyard, are other fortunate by-products of a biodynamic approach according to the pair. (‘From the Earth’, Yangarra Estate, McLaren Vale, SA by The Wine Idealist, 25 July 2014)

Happy vines make happy wine!

by Merrill Witt, Editor

Photo Credit: Yangarra Estate

 

 

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Mar 03 2015

South Australia’s McLaren Vale – Focus on Terroir is Yielding Exciting Results

Posted on March 03, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you think South Australia’s McLaren Vale is all about super rich, high alcohol reds, now is a great time to challenge your preconceptions. According to wine critic Huon Hooke, McLaren Vale is “alive with a new surge of vitality and is making superb wine.” (Red Means Go in the Vale by Huon Hooke, Good Food, SMH, 6 August 2013)

The seeds for transformation were sown around 15 years ago when the region’s top wineries began shifting their plantings to better suited, mainly red wine varieties. But confidence really started to surge about five years ago, coinciding with the release of the area’s first detailed geological map!

First detailed geological wine map released in 2010

In 2010, after decades of research, geologists confirmed what top winemakers like Clarendon Hill’s Roman Bratasiuk had long intuited. McLaren Vale was an incredibly ancient land with an unusually diverse range of soils and underlying rock formations that are capable of imbuing the wines with very individualistic characters.

 

McLaren ValeThe map identified nineteen distinct soil and rock districts within six geological and mesa-climate subregions: Blewitt Springs, McLaren Flat, Seaview, McLaren Vale, Willunga and Sellicks. According to Wine Australia’s regional director Aaron Brasher, no other Geographical Indication (GI) in Australia has been so extensively mapped!

Scarce Earth Project promotes terroir-focused wines

To prove that these subtle and not-so-subtle differences in soil type, climate and elevation can find expression in the wines, a group of the region’s most prominent wineries formed the Scarce Earth project in 2010.

Participating wineries were asked to isolate single blocks of land planted to shiraz (the vines must be at least 10 years old) and produce wines representing a true reflection of their terroir or sense of place. Now in its fifth year, wines are submitted for blind-tasting to an … Read the rest