Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wine Tasting in McClaren Vale

Since my relatives (Uncle Gary and Aunt Marilyn) live in McClaren Vale, I have spent the most time visiting wineries and tasting in this region. It is just 30 minutes south of Adelaide and quite close to the ocean. There are lovely vineyards on the hillsides and big gum trees, as well as small charming towns and the ocean with white sand beaches near by. Quite an enjoyable place to live.

On Sunday afternoon, I had an interview at Noons and was able to tour the vineyards and winery. A very special small winery with an allocated wine list. I was very impressed with the dry-farmed Grenache vineyard from the 1930’s. They are also using biodynamic techniques. Grapes are hand-harvested and the wine is punched down by hand in small open-topped vats and then pressed in an old barrel press. They primarily use French Oak for aging, and top up frequently rather than use gas. So the whole process is very natural, and the wines are amazing Grenache/shiraz blends.

I also had a nice tour of Tintara, which is much larger but still utilizes large mechanical basket presses for their high-end reds. They have a very impressive winery with new stainless fermentors on stakes so they can load and empty more easily. The oak program is both French and American and depends on the brand. I was able to taste the excellent Eileen Hardy Shiraz which is their top wine from the finest grapes with 2 years in French oak. It was powerful yet elegant, and filled with concentrated fruit and spice. A magnificent wine.

Other wineries and vineyards I visited in McClaren Vale included Pirramima, Pertaringa, Scarpatoni, Middlebrook and tasted an Amarone from Vassarelli. I found the old vine Grenache at Pertaringa to be quite exceptional and bought a bottle to take home.
Uncle Gary and Aunt Marilyn made it possible for me to pick grapes at their friend Michael's vineyard. We picked shiraz and merlot, and then had a wonderful BBQ. The following week, we met again for an elegant dinner with some very amazing Australian wines, including the Amarone.

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