Wines from Chapel Hill, McLaren Vale

I recently tasted through the range from McLaren Vale producer Chapel Hill, whose wines I hadn’t seen in a while. I was impressed. ‘The past 12 years have been a transitional period for the winery,’ says winemaker Michael Fragos. ‘It was in the 2008 vintage that we started showcasing our single site wines and when [...]

The amazing Vanguardist Wines, from South Australia

I was really pleased to try these wines (thanks to Christina Rasmussen for getting these samples to me). They’re from a relatively new project, Vanguardist, which is a collaboration between three people, Alexandra Maurisset, Edouard Maurisset-Latour and Michael Corbett. Corbett is the winemaker, and is based in the Clare Valley, but he’s a Kiwi: the three [...]

Visiting Wirra Wirra, McLaren Vale

Wirra Wirra is one of those wineries that we sometimes take for granted. They’ve been there for (seemingly) ever, making good wines in reasonable quantities, but don’t often get the headlines. But the great thing about wineries like this is that they connect with lots of people, and you can find the wines pretty much [...]

D'Arenberg, with Chester and his Cube

On Wednesday I visited D’Arenberg, an important producer in Australia’s McLaren Vale region. I remember when I was first getting into wine in the mid-1990s and being seduced by the D’Arenberg reds, with their beautifully detailed back labels and distinctive red sash design. I remember buying and selling the famous Dead Arm Shiraz, which is [...]

Koomilya, the 'new Wendouree'

The Koomilya vineyard in McLaren Vale

Komilya is the exciting new vineyard-based project from one of the McLaren Vale’s stars, SC Pannell. I don’t like to hype wines, but this is one of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made in Australia. This is the McLaren Vale’s Wendouree, in terms of style, intention and potential longevity.

Stephen Pannell [...]

Fugazi! A lovely McLaren Vale Grenache from Ochota Barrels

Had this bottle the other night at Noble Rot. You can tell times are changing if I’m going out and ordering (a) a Grenache (b) from the McLaren Vale. Both grape  variety and region are underestimated, and it takes a producer like Ochota Barrels to show their potential, with the strong imprint of winemaking and [...]

Fall From Grace: natural wines from McLaren Vale

Gill Gordon Smith is an ex Quantas flight attendant, who fell in love with wine. Now she has her own wine label, Fall From Grace, which she cells from a cellar door that doubles up as a wine bar/retail shop, based in Aldinga, McLaren Vale. The wine list here is quite brilliant, with a natural [...]

Dodgy Brothers wines, McLaren Vale, Australia

Wes Pearson at work in the sensory lab

Wes Pearson, an ex-pat Canadian is by day a sensory scientist working at the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). He’s also the winemaker behind wine label Dodgy Brothers. He has two partners in the business: Peter Bolte, who’s a consultant viticulturist and who initiated the project, and [...]

Amery Vineyards Block 6 Shiraz 1989

My wine trade buddy Greg Sherwood brought this wine around to dinner, and served it blind. It was a real treat. I reckoned it was properly old, and new world, but didn’t spot Australia. It’s back in the era when top Aussie wines had moderate alcohol levels – this was just 12.5%. These day, the [...]

Two lovely, full-on wines from First Drop

I love the packaging of the First Drop wines. The labels seem to resonate with the wines.

And while I’m all for elegance, sometimes it’s great to have full-flavoured Aussie wines from regions like the Barossa and McLaren Vale, when the bigness is allied to freshness and definition, and appropriate oak use. Big can, of course, [...]