South Australia has many strings to its flourishing wine bow. The Barossa, Eden, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Wrattonbully, and the Adelaide Hills (to name but a few) all yield wines of dazzling deliciousness and have forged ahead producing wines of distinction that really sing of the region: Barossa and Shiraz; Adelaide Hills with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; Clare Valley and Riesling; Coonawarra and Cabernet. All go together like love and marriage!
And then there’s the Marvellous McLaren Vale. Just 35 km south of Adelaide, the ‘Vale’, as it is affectionately known, is a hot-bed of tradition and innovation, and there’s a certain sense that McLaren is just finding itself again (after many moons of having a reputation for only producing big, chunky red) with wine lovers the land over starting to redefine what they think of when they envisage bottles of McLaren Vale vino.
History and tradition run deep in the heart of McLaren Vale. This tradition, mixed with the new and exciting breed of young winegrowers, have thrust the Vale right back into the hearts and palates of wine drinkers and growers across Australia.
In the hands of the right producers, traditional varieties such as Cabernet and Shiraz still result in ripper wines; wines with intensity, depth and complexity that hold their own when stacked up against the best that the country has to offer. More recently, the glorious Grenache has reinvented itself and producers are starting to once again find favour with brighter, spicier versions of this often misunderstood variety. Wirra Wirra, Kay Brothers, Two Hands and Paxton are all leading lights when it comes to producing richly fruited, yet balanced and interesting expressions of the classic varieties we know and love so much.
But there’s more to McLaren Vale than the famous varieties that have perhaps defined the region in the past. The diverse nature of the landscape in the Vale, mixed with the huge range of soil types and microclimates, means that there a whole host of other grapes that are strutting their stuff with style. Think Tempranillo, Graciano, Mourvedre, Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Nero d’Avola and Fiano! All are resulting in terrifically tasty wines when made by the right producers who are working with fruit selected from the right site (check out Oliver’s Taranga, Coriole, SC Pannell and Alpha Box and Dice for cracking examples of these lesser known tasty treats).
It’s this blend of the emerging and classic that sees the Vale once more being back on the radar. Try some of the alternative grapes for yourself, get into some of the newer expressions of old favourites. And re-discover why the region got famous in the first place! I’m off for some Sangiovese… no, Shiraz. No, Nero! Oh, why pick favourites. You can love all of your children equally.