From 45-year-old vines planted to sandy soils in McLaren Vale, this has the makings of a top-priced offering, but in the creative hands of The Other Wine Co. its price tag is refreshingly democratic. As is the wine, with engaging red fruits matched with spicy, earthy complexity – easy to love, but with detail for those that care to look.
This pops with the bright side of grenache, with wild raspberry, maraschino and redcurrant, but unlike many wines from the variety, it skips the confectionary side of things, slotting in some hard herbs, subtle spice and a palate that has sneakily grippy tannins, all suggesting some expertly handled whole-bunch fermentation. Expressing the forward joy of the grape, this is backed up with some old-vine intensity and quietly confident winemaking – it’s serious enough, but you might be having too much fun to notice.
Themes of this wine
The great grape of the Southern Rhône, grenache, has also found many homes around the world, from Spain, to Italy, to California, while Australia is home to the world’s oldest productive grenache vines, planted in 1848. Today, a renaissance is seeing the grape championed, with makers in McLaren Vale arguably turning out the most compelling examples.
While it couldn’t feel any more removed from city life, the McLaren Vale wine region is inside Adelaide’s metropolitan area. And although the township itself is only 40 minutes by car from central Adelaide and vineyards brush up against ever-encroaching housing, McLaren Vale remains unaffected by the urban sprawl. With deeply etched history, the Vale has a slow-paced sense of calm and an extraordinary wealth of untrammelled beauty. It is home to some of this country’s most beautifully pristine beaches, as well as some of the world’s most forward-thinking grape-growers and winemakers. And with over 80 cellar doors, it is an essential destination for wine lovers – and anyone else, for that matter.
Before grapes are fermented, they are often de-stemmed, but they can also be left as whole bunches. Some winemakers will include a small or large portion in their ferments, with the rest destemmed, or less commonly they will leave all bunches intact. The impact of fermenting with whole bunches will create slightly different flavour profiles than if destemmed, with the grape stalks adding spice notes, and sometimes a green stemmy character, while also bringing in more tannin, and tannin with a different feel and texture to grape skin/seed or oak tannin. And while these added characters are quite savoury, the grapes in a ferment like this often remain whole for longer, meaning they start fermenting inside the berries first, which can bring a very bright fruit profile to the flavour mix. Any grape variety can be fermented with whole bunches, even white ones, but the technique is most associated with pinot noir, shiraz, gamay and grenache.