Vintage 2021 is shaping up superbly, we had some really good rain over winter which set us up for some beautiful early growth and healthy canopies. Our dry grown bushvine grenache at Blewitt Springs has just started to go through veraison (which is where the berries begin their ripening process and start to change colour).
The team has been working hard in the Willunga 100 ‘Blindspot Vineyard’ this year with a few upgrades and changes. Most excitingly, late last year we planted a new section of Grenache – cuttings of nearly 100 year old bushvine Grenache were taken from the much loved ‘Smart Vineyard’ in Clarendon where we make our single vineyard Clarendon Grenache. They were planted into the sandy soils of the Blindspot Vineyard and we’ve been keeping a close eye on their growth.
The Smart vineyard has been looked after by the same family for 3 generations and has been the source for many well regarded McLaren Vale Grenache vineyards – we were really grateful to get cuttings from a vineyard with such amazing pedigree. We hope that once it is established we can line it up side by side with the Clarendon Grenache to highlight the impact location has on the wine.
Stay tuned for more vintage updates!
Willunga 100 Winemaker
Our Blewitt Springs 'The Hundred' Grenache has been highly decorated across past vintages, and the 2018 is off to the same start. It received the ‘TOP GOLD’ MEDAL from The Royal Adelaide Wine Show 2020 as part of the 'Grenache, 2018 vintage or older' class. The judges commented: “A strong class, top wines show diversity in style. Bright and delicious with fruit intensity”.
The Royal Adelaide Wine Show is the most prestigious wine show in Australia, featuring over 2,500 wines from over 300 wineries across the country.
Wines are judged by a panel of esteemed judges from across Australia over four days, to determine medal and trophy winners.
The ' Hundred' range exemplifies the diversity in style that can be achieved with McLaren Vale Grenache by focusing on single vineyard wines from some of the region's finest sub-zones.
The dry grown bush vines for this single vineyard Grenache were planted in 1952 on ancient sandy soil is over a clay and ironstone base. The Trott vineyard is situated 210m above sea level, on the moderate to steep hills of Blewitt Springs next to the Onkaparinga Gorge.
Fruit is hand-harvested and whole berry sorted, then vinified in open fermenters and gently basket pressed. The result is a vibrant and complex wine that is a pure expression of both site and variety.
This year we had lower than average winter rainfall followed by a dry and warm start to spring. This meant that canopy vigour was reduced and crop levels were down. We had a few warm days during flowering with some hot northerly winds which heavily impacted fruit set, with the exception being Grenache, which had only a small reduction compared with average.
December had some extremely hot days which saw some of the vines experience a little bit of stress, but then temperatures through January and February were very mild, which gave us a prolonged ripening period allowing for good development of flavour. A very timely couple of rain events late January and early February gave the vines a much needed replenish to get them through the rest of the season.
All of the grenache vineyards we source from are dry grown bush vines, despite the dry weather through flowering and veraison, they held up exceptionally well. Fruit looked far more regular than other varieties, and the bush vines had good shoot growth with healthy canopies. One difference from previous years was smaller berries and bunch size, resulting in a nice concentrated flavour. The cooler ripening period has also meant we held on to some really nice natural acidity.
McLaren Vale was very lucky to avoid any impact from the bushfires – with fires being both south of the Vale on Kangaroo Island, and north of us in the Adelaide Hills. Early smoke taint testing was undertaken as a precaution and we were grateful to have been spared as a region.
As a general overlook, the 2020 vintage tracked a couple of weeks later than what we have seen in more recent years, with our first harvest being the Blindspot grenache for the rose’ on the 28th February, closely followed by the Tempranillo on the 2nd March. The majority of the remaining fruit came off in the last two weeks of March with a total of 76 tonnes being crushed for 2020.
In general, we should see a lot of very high-quality wines come out of McLaren Vale this vintage – I think everyone will just wish there was more volume!
Among some wine consumers, Grenache may not be as well-known as Australia’s major red varieties of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. However, Grenache has a distinguished history in world and Australian wine production, and the latest sales data suggest the recent resurgence in its popularity continues.
Grenache is performing well in the Australian on-trade market. According to Wine Business Solutions, Grenache is the fourth most listed red wine in the on-trade behind Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2019, there was a 21 percent increase in Grenache listings, from a 5.4 percent share of red wine listings to 6.6 percent.
Demand for Australian Grenache is growing internationally. Over the past five years, the value of single-variety Grenache exports has more than doubled, from $2.4 million in 2014 to $5.5 million in 2019. In 2019, bottled Grenache exports averaged $13.14 per litre, more than double the bottled red wine average value of $5.43.
Wine Australia has released an interesting article about the rise of this mighty grape. To read more CLICK HERE.
Here at Willunga 100, we have been shocked and saddened by the recent devastation caused by bushfires across Australia. The losses experienced in our homeland, especially around Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island, have touched us deeply and our hearts go out to all our colleagues, friends, fellow producers, growers, and all those directly or indirectly affected by these tragic events. The road to recovery will be long and hard but as an industry, we will pull together and support those in need. In solidarity, Willunga 100 will donate $2.00 from every case sold on our website from January through to June 30 to the Adelaide Hills Wine Region Fire Appeal and Kangaroo Island Mayoral Relief and Recovery Bushfire Fund.
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/
Wine writer Des Houghton from The Courier Mail has reviewed two Willunga 100 wines in his column Quaff. He recently visited the Queensland College of Wine Tourism at Stanhope where he sampled a range of alternative reds. Mr Houghton encourages readers to broaden their wine horizons and try new grape varieties, one of his suggests is Grenache, and of course we couldn’t agree more. If you’re new to grenache, or if it’s an old favourite, here at Willunga 100 we specialise in this dynamic gem, and we have a range of award winning grenache wines for you try.
Mr Houghton wrote of our wines “There are red berry and rose perfumes springing from the glass in the Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Grenache. On the palate look for strawberry flavours and a hint of cinnamon. The Hundred Single Vineyard Blewitt Springs McLaren Vale 2015 Grenache displays red berry and floral aromatics of rose on the nose and cherry spice notes on the palate. Lees ageing has added to the richness.”
To read the full article please check out the clipping below, and to try a Willunga 100 grenache for yourself click here to visit our online store.
The addition will strengthen BWA’s New World offering, which includes a handful of other carefully selected brands such as Carmen from Chile and Doña Paula from Argentina, alongside their very strong French, Spanish and Italian selections.
“We are very excited about the addition of Willunga 100 to our portfolio,” said Bruno Butragueno Managing Director of BWA. “We’ve been looking at high quality Australian wineries for a while and are thrilled to announce that Willunga 100 will join our portfolio. We plan to promote into Mainland China the modern McLaren Vale wines and premium cultural legacy of the winery. This new experience focused on high-quality Grenache represents a fantastic opportunity in this tantalising market.”
Willunga 100 is the brain child of founders David Gleave and John Ratcliffe, industry veterans and Australian wine devotees, passionate about the potential for outstanding wines from McLaren Vale. Their aim with Willunga 100 is to make modern expressions from this exceptionally diverse region with a focus on premium Grenache, the star grape of McLaren Vale.
Situated about 45 minute drive south of Adelaide in South Australia, McLaren Vale’s Mediterranean climate, with warm sunny days and cooling breezes from the nearby Gulf of St. Vincent, makes it perfect for grape growing. The 500 million year old soils are abundant and diverse giving a huge amount of depth and complexity to the wines.
Winemakers Mike Farmilo and Tim James have worked a combined sixty years in McLaren Vale and have established long and fruitful partnerships with local growers particularly in the superior sub-regions of Willunga, Clarendon and Blewitt Springs where fruit for the top wines is sourced.
“It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that we add China to our list of export markets,” said Willunga 100 Co-founder David Gleave. “As we embark on this new chapter for Willunga 100 I have no doubt that with BWA’s commitment to delivering top quality wine within China, we will finally be able to showcase the best that McLaren Vale can offer through our passion for Grenache.”
Importantly for penetrating the China market, impressive accolades abound for Willunga 100’s Grenache wines, which were all rated 93+ points by Australia’s most renowned wine critic James Halliday in his Australian Wine Companion 2018.
“Grenache’s natural sweet spice, fragrant perfume and soft tannin makes these wines the perfect accompaniment to an infinite array of Chinese dishes,” says Nimbility Founding Partner Polly Aylwin-Foster, “a very important factor for positioning these wines within the China on-trade where BWA excel. We are confident that the BWA team, led by Bruno, will deliver fantastic visibility and sommelier-advocacy which will be crucial to building the Willunga 100 brand in China.”
The opening selection that will be landing with BWA in mid-June will include:
McLaren Vale Shiraz Viognier 2016
McLaren Vale Grenache 2016
The Tithing Grenache 2016
For more information about Willunga 100 in Asia please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Vintage 2018 is well under way and producing superb fruit. Mike and Tim have been busy in the vineyards picking a small parcel of Tempranillo and a new Shiraz vineyard in Willunga. This week gets even busier as we pick our Home Block Tempranillo in the warmer beachside district of McLaren Vale, and then move toward the cooler sites of McLaren Flat, Blewitt Springs and Clarendon to pick our Single Vineyard Grenache.
Given the even, moderate, and dry growing season with only a few hot spikes across summer, its shaping up to be an excellent year for Grenache and McLaren Vale as a region.
We look forward to sharing these wines with you soon! Stay tuned.
About Sam Kim
Sam has been involved for the past 30 years in New Zealand hospitality, wine retail, importing and distribution, as well as running wine courses and master classes. Wine Orbit is a website featuring reviews of New Zealand wines and wines of the world.
Willunga 100, Grenache Rosé 2017, McLaren Vale - 93 points, 5 stars
It is delicate yet delightfully flavoursome, displaying raspberry, cranberry, rockmelon and lemon zest
characters on the nose, followed by a vibrant palate that is bright and juicy. The wine offers sweet berry
flavours together with refreshing acidity, finishing long and crisp. A fabulous drink. At its best: now to 2019. AU$18.00. www.willunga100.com.
Willunga 100, The Hundred Grenache 2016, McLaren Vale - 95 points, 5 stars
Made from 93-year-old, dry-grown bush vines, this is a stunning grenache; the perfumed bouquet shows raspberry coulis, dark plum, toasted hazelnut, game and floral characters. The palate is equally gratifying with pristine fruit flavours and rounded mouthfeel, wonderfully complemented by velvety texture and fine tannins. Flavoursome, generous and delectable. At its best: now to 2026. AU$35.00. www.willunga100.com.
Willunga 100, The Tithing Grenache 2016, McLaren Vale - 96 points, 5 stars
This is seriously good; the fragrant and complex bouquet shows raspberry, strawberry tart, cedar, floral and warm spice aromas, leading to a concentrated palate that is plush and soothing. The wine displays excellent depth and intensity, together with fabulous fruit purity and spicy complexity, finishing superbly long and silky. At its best: now to 2028. AU$45.00. www.willunga100.com.
Willunga 100, Shiraz Grenache 2016, McLaren Vale - 93 points, 5 stars
Comfort wine at its best, this is fruit-expressive, fragrant and flavoursome. The inviting bouquet shows blackberry, dark plum, hazelnut, game and black olive characters, followed by succulent palate that is juicy and smooth with plenty of attractive fruit flavours, backed by silky tannins. At its best: now to 2024. AU$25.00. www.willunga100.com.
Willunga 100, Tempranillo 2016, McLaren Vale - 93 points, 5 stars
It is immediately appealing on the nose showing dark plum, blackcurrant, thyme, floral and cocoa aromas, leading to a succulent palate that displays rich fruit intensity and silky mouthfeel, wonderfully supported by fine, polished tannins. The wine is plump and fleshy, and offers terrific drinking. At its best: now to 2024. AU$25.00. www.willunga100.com. Jan 2018.
Willunga 100, Shiraz Viognier 2016, McLaren Vale - 94 points, 5 stars
A delicious offering; the beautifully lifted bouquet shows black/blueberry, plum jelly, chocolate tart and cedar characters. The palate is concentrated and beautifully rounded, offering gorgeous fruit purity as well as richness, wonderfully complemented by silky texture and supple tannins. At its best: now to 2026. AU$25.00. www.willunga100.com.
We did it again! Our 2015 The Hundred Grenache,Clarendon has taken out "Best Two-Year-Old Grenache" at the McLaren Vale Wine Show, plus 96 points in the recent James Halliday Grenache Challenge. This is the third year one of Grenache wines has won a trophy at the McLaren Vale Wine Show, last year being the The Hundred Grenache, Blewitt Springs.
These two wines now have the following accolades;
2015 The Hundred Grenache, Clarendon
Gold Medal - 2016 McLaren Vale Wine Show
Trophy - Best Two-Year-Old Grenache - 2017 McLaren Vale Wine Show
96 Points - Grenache Challenge - James Halliday Wine Companion
2015 The Hundred Grenache, Blewitt Springs
Best One-Year-Old Grenache - McLaren Vale Wine Show 2016
Best Grenache - McLaren Vale Wine Show 2016
Trophy, Best Other Variety - National Wine Show 2016
Gold Medal - The Royal Adelaide Wine Show 2016
Gold Medal and 96 points at the Sydney Royal Wine Show
93 Points - Halliday Wine Companion.