Dan Traucki from Wine Assistant recently attended one of our Grenache appreciation evenings. Here’s what he had to say:
“I have written before about the amazing work that McLaren Vale growers are doing to identify and categorise the impact that their tumultuous geology has upon the flavours of their Shiraz (see Winestate Magazine, “Super Serious about Shiraz”, Sep-Oct 2017 Edition). Some of the “Valers” have also formed the “Fiano Fellowship” (see WBM, “The Fiano Fellowship”, Jan- Feb 2019 edition), to evaluate the region’s Fiano.
Now it looks like Grenache may be going to get a guernsey at the same caper, if the recent tasting conducted by McLaren Vale winery, Willunga 100, is any indication.
On a cold July evening Willunga 100 gathered a group of “Grenache Groupies” at the National Wine Centre for a, “Tasting & Tapas”, event in which the excellent Grenache from Willunga 100 were compared and contrasted to Grenache from around the world. Each flight was matched to an elegant, up-market tapas dish.
Five of the thirteen wines presented on the night were from Willunga 100 including the WILLUNGA 100 “THE TITHING” GRENACHE 2009 out of their museum. This wine was redolent with complex bottle maturation aromas, had a super smooth and silky palate with lashings of flavour and still after ten years had a hint of tightness on the finish. It was a brilliant food wine as well as a darn good drink on its own. The 2016 being the current vintage of “THE TITHING”, had the same inherent characteristics as its elder sibling but was younger, brighter and tighter. By comparing the two, one could see the longevity that awaits the current release as it elegantly matures over time.
The other Australian Grenache shown were the:
2018 YALUMBA BAROSSA BUSH VINE GRENACHE: A lighter, brighter “New Style” Grenache designed to appeal to younger wine drinkers.
2017 WILLUNGA “THE HUNDRED” CLARENDON GRENACHE: This was a big, rich, flavoursome wine with an attractive bouquet of spice and herbs, and delightful tight flavours that will evolve sensationally over time. The grapes for this wine come from 100-year-old Grenache vines.
2017 WILLUNGA “THE HUNDRED” BLEWITT SPRINGS GRENACHE: Showing its site-specific characters, it is slightly softer and gentler than its Clarendon kin, but more elegant and svelte.
2017 YANGARRA McLAREN VALE GRENACHE: Spicy aromas with a good dollop of dried herbs. A beautifully smooth, rich, round, sophisticated palate with a tight finish.
2017 HEAD WINE BAROSSA GRENACHE: A Deep and densely coloured wine with a hint of sweetness on the front palate and a tight, grippy finish.
2016 WILLUNGA 100 “THE HUNDRED” McLAREN VALE GRENACHE: A true “keeper” with a long and distinguished life in front of it.
The international Grenache wines that were shown were:
2017 Ventoux Rouge ‘Vox Caritatis’ from Southern Rhone (90% Grenache)
2016 Spice Route Swartland – South Africa
2016 Gigondas, Domaine des Bosquets (75% Grenache)
2016 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chateau de Vaudieu (81% Grenache)
2016 Mas La Mola, ‘Vi d’Altura’ Priorat Spain
2015 El Coto Rioja Garnacha Crianza
A great feature that was shown was the “Grenache Language & Descriptors” chart. Personally, I think that if that was reduced to the “Body, Tannin & Acidity” scales, it could be added to the back labels of Grenache, just as Riesling producers today are adding the “Riesling Dryness Scale” to their wine back labels. This would make it easier for consumers to choose the right Grenache for them out of the “Traditional” style (bigger, richer wines) and the emerging “New Style” which are lighter not only in alcohol, but more importantly in flavour and character. Food for thought!
This delightful event showed that Willunga 100 have well and truly mastered the fine art of producing excellent Grenache. They have mastered the nuances of their different sites, as their wines were excellent.
It also demonstrated that great Aussie Grenache is “World-Class” as well as re-enforcing the fact that the variety is able to consistently produce great wines around the world, whether it is called GARNACHA or GRENACHE. Cheers!”
To read more from Dan Traucki visit http://www.wineassist.com.au/
The people behind Grenache specialist Willunga 100 have bought its first vineyard in McLaren Vale for an undisclosed price. The 19 hectare site, situated on Moritz Road in the heart of Blewitt Springs, has close to eight hectares of old, bush trained Grenache. The vineyard is situated within the ‘Hundred of Willunga’, the area which was the inspiration for the name given to the new venture by founders David Gleave and John Ratcliffe when they first started producing wines in McLaren Vale in 2005.
“We’ve taken fruit off the vineyard for several years, so we know just how good it is,” says winemaker Mike Farmilo. “In fact our 2016 ‘Tithing’ Grenache, one of the best wines we’ve made in the past 15 vintages, came off this site.”
Willunga 100 has pioneered unoaked, single vineyard Grenache in McLaren Vale. Its Blewitt Springs Grenache, made with fruit from Sue Trott’s vineyard, won ‘Best Grenache Trophy’ at the McLaren Vale Wine Show in 2015 and 2016, while the Clarendon Grenache, which comes off the Smart vineyard, won the ‘Best Two Year Old or Older Grenache Trophy’ in 2017.
David Gleave said of the purchase: “The success enjoyed by Willunga 100 has been built on the quality of fruit we source from our growers, the best of whom we will continue working with. As our business has grown, we’ve been looking for our own vineyard for a couple of years, and knew exactly where we wanted to be. When this site came up, its location on Blewitt Springs sands made for a quick decision.
“Our aim is simple,” continues Gleave. “We plan to invest in the vineyard to see if we can improve upon the quality of the already outstanding fruit it has been producing,” continued Gleave. “After 15 vintages, it is nice to be able to give Willunga 100 a home.”
For further information, please contact Zoe Mallen:
+61 406 532206
Renowned UK critic and Grenache enthusiast Matthew Jukes has been a long-time fan of the Willunga 100 range. This year marks the second in a row that our Cabernet Shiraz has been included in his 100 Best Australian Wines report.
In addition, he has just included Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Grenache as one of his Top 100 Red Wines for Summer in The Daily Mail Weekend Magazine. He commented:
"One of the juiciest, most enthralling wines of the moment, this has an explosion of pipe smoke, rhubarb and mulberry pie scents on the nose (I’m not joking!) and a creamy, succulent palate. It could charm even the most hard-to-please wine lovers.”