1. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT GRENACHE?
Firstly, I love grenache for how versatile it is as a drink. As a medium bodied red wine it lends itself to all seasons beautifully. People often associate reds with winter, but if it's especially warm I like to throw it in the fridge for a few minutes - it takes the edge off and becomes a great summer drink! Grenache is full of vibrant fruit with a very seductive nose, loads of interest on the palate, spice, and textural tannins. And most importantly, each grenache tells a story of where it's from. At Willunga 100, we're big on ensuring the characteristics of the site are reflected in the glass.
2. WHY IS MCLAREN VALE SUCH A GREAT REGION FOR GRENACHE?
Grenache is a Mediterranean variety that grows very well in warm climates, so we're lucky in McLaren Vale to be blessed with warm summers. It ripens late, and actually needs quite a bit of heat to ensure it ripens before the change of season. We also have a lot of old vine grenache in McLaren Vale with very large root systems, the deep roots find the water the vine needs without irrigating. A lot of these old vines are 100% dry grown, proving just how well the vine does with heat/water stress. This is great for a country constantly in a state of drought! On a hot day you'll notice the leaves on the grenache vines are still upright and turgid, while some other varieties would have stressed, wilting leaves.
3. WHERE IS YOUR IDEAL PLACE TO CRACK OPEN A BOTTLE OF THE NEW RELEASE 2020 GRENACHE?
At home on the deck with a group of close friends, enjoying the sunshine and a long lunch!
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.
It’s that time of year again, where Australia’s wineries stack up against one another in the annual release of Halliday scores - Australia’s superior authority in wine judging. Willunga 100 is proud to announce the below points for our Shiraz Viognier, and The Hundred Grenache range. While the 2018 Hundred wines haven’t yet been released, the 2018 Shiraz Viognier is available for purchase now.
Shiraz Viognier 2018 - 92 Points
“Fermented on skins in stainless steel for 7 days, in French and American hogsheads (20% new) for mlf and maturation for 18 months. Prior to bottling 5% viognier was blended into the shiraz. The role of viognier here is plain. It's the x-factor in the lifted, fragrant perfume - apple blossom, violet - and beyond that, shiraz sets the tidy pace with red fruits shining, spice and crunchy tannins. Pretty neat package.” SHOP NOW
The Hundred Blewitt Springs 2018 - 94 Points
“Hand-picked, whole berry, fermented on skins for 14 days, basket-pressed to stainless steel tanks, mlf, matured in stainless steel tanks. The Hundred range shows off the diversity in style of Vale grenache with Blewitt Springs bringing its sunniness and spice to the grape. A real crowd pleaser with exceptional fruit concentration, all the while remaining light on its toes. Black cherries, lifted florals, high spice, liquorice strap, pastille. That pastille jubeyness follows on the palate, adding a just a touch of sweetness. On song.”
The Hundred Clarendon 2018 - 91 Points
“Hand-picked, whole berry, fermented on skins for 14 days in stainless steel fermenter, basket-pressed to stainless steel tanks, mlf and maturation in seasoned French oak puncheons. Dry-grown, bush vine grenache from Clarendon with a bright, fresh outlook. Grenache sensibilities abound with stewed plums, violets, liquorice strap, wood smoke. Some confection moments, musk, raspberry bonbon join with fine tannins and warm mouthfeel to round out a smart and enticing wine.”
Halliday Wine Companion 2021 - All tasted by Jeni Port
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.
The 2020 Halliday Wine Companion was recently released, and we're pleased to say that Willunga 100 has again hit all the right notes.
We’re always thrilled to receive great feedback, but even more so to share the wines with you. Click the link below to shop.
2018 Grenache Rosè - 91 Points
"Pale salmon-pink; rose petal and bath powder aromas moving decisively on the palate to red fruits of field and forest. Good length/persistence." - 2020 Halliday Wine Companion
2016 Grenache - 91 Points
"A very different vintage to 2017, this is right in the mainstream of the resurrection of grenache from its days as purveyor of large amounts of fodder for fortified winemaking. It was a ripe year, but the wine hasn't lost its shape." - 2020 Halliday Wine Companion
2017 The Hundred, Clarendon - 94 Points
"From 80yo dry-grown bush vines. Bright, clear crimson-purple; the bouquet is pure and correct, with red cherry/raspberry aromas leading the way with a stream of focused fruit, oak, and tannins standing by watching proceedings." - 2020 Halliday Wine Companion
Note: Our 2017 Tempranillo scored 95 points, however, this wine is yet to be released. In the meantime, if you'd like to take advantage of our 2016 vintage, click the SHOP NOW link below.
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.