In any year, this is a sure candidate for Australia’s top rosé – for both quality and value – and the 2023 is stellar. Red fruits and watermelon are features, as is the typically textural play on the palate that is swiftly refreshed with perfectly balanced acidity.
A prettily pale but nonetheless insistent colour, this nails the Pantone swatch Platonic ideal of rosé hues. It goes a step further, too, embracing all the elements that one finds so intoxicating about rosé while never dipping into confection or frivolity. Watermelon, strawberry, redcurrant and peach fuzz feature on the nose and palate, while just enough flex in the mid-palate eases you in but doesn’t linger, keeping refreshment value high. A benchmark mod-Oz rosé
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 1948. Today, a renaissance is seeing the grape championed, with makers in McLaren Vale arguably turning out the most compelling examples.
Cinsault has been grown in Australia since pioneering days, but it has typically been swallowed by blends. However, its ability to shrug off hot and dry conditions and still make elegant wines with plenty of acidity is seeing its star rise in warmer zones like the Barossa Valley. Fragrant and quite pretty, cinsault can have very lifted aromas of red berry fruits, like raspberry, strawberry and cherry, while some blue floral notes, like violet also typically feature. It rarely achieves much more than midweight, with gentle tannins and decent acidity.
A minor red grape from the Southern Rhône, counoise is used sparingly in blends, most notably in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It contributes spice notes and holds its acidity well, so can be used to add freshness, too.
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.