2021 Dune ‘Empty Quarter’ McLaren Vale

A blend of Vale hero varieties with a dash of climate-apt touriga, this melds wild berries, spice and earthy scents in a bright, midweight wine with fine but grippy tannins.

Wines We Love

Dune is Duncan and Peter Lloyd’s project outside of their family’s Coriole label, exploring the sandy soils of Blewitt Springs. A blend of Vale hero varieties with a dash of climate-apt touriga, this melds wild berries, spice and earthy scents in a bright, midweight wine with fine but grippy tannins.

Tasting note

Common companions, shiraz, grenache and mataro are joined here by a splash of touriga nacional. This sits more towards the midweight camp, with bright and crunchy red fruit notes with some blueberry, boysenberry and red florals accented by cracked earth, ferrous notes, white pepper and brown cardamom. It’s a terrifically bright but flavoursome wine, with a sneakily grippy line of fine tannin adding savoury interest and making it a brilliant foil for food.

Themes of this wine


Shiraz dominates the Australian wine industry, accounting for nearly a third of this country’s vines. The grape’s traditional home is in France’s Northern Rhône, with wines that combine elegance and power, while Australia is perhaps best known for the muscular styles from warmer areas. Today, drinkers of Australian shiraz are spoilt for choice with expressions ranging from the elegant and spicy to the monumental.


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 1948. Today, a renaissance is seeing the grape championed, with makers in McLaren Vale arguably turning out the most compelling examples.


Mourvèdre has been in this country as long as any variety, but it has often been sunk into blends, playing a vital role but rarely grabbing the mic. And while that remains the destination for most of this darkly fruited and tannic grape, it can play a pivotal role in those wines, and gets the occasional outing solo in both red and rosé wines. As with many grapes typically used for blending, mourvèdre has a distinct personality. It is a variety that is often strong in tannic structure, quite dark fruited and spicy, often with an almost animal and wild herb aroma. This will naturally depend a little on site and winemaking, with the grape commonly made into rosé that shows none of that wildness, instead typically displaying red berry notes, though the wines are often still blends.

Touriga Nacional

Touriga nacional is best known as a Port variety, but it can play a compelling role in table wines, too. Although the grape has been planted in this country for a long time, it typically slipped into blends – mostly fortified –unacknowledged. With intense fruit in a blueberry and dark berry spectrum, touriga nacional typically also shows a lifted fragrance of violets in a wine’s youth, and it can have both leathery and minty notes. Tannins are a big feature of the variety, so expect a drying and grippy palate on most wines.

McLaren Vale

While it couldn’t feel any more removed from city life, the McLaren Vale wine region is actually 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.

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