(Image: SC Pannell)

SC Pannell Winter 2020 Grenache Release

"Coming to you from the depths of my 42nd vintage. The focus this year was on our Grenache vineyard in Blewitt Springs. Harvest started late, expectations heightened as we waited, and we were naturally nervous of what would unfold.

This would be our first harvest experience at the recently acquired vineyard – an exciting test for everybody in the team. We had little idea of the fruit's quality, our trust entirely with soil and season, a location that lends itself to something spectacular and hours spent agonising over every pruning cut.

Harvest began on the 4th of March and by the 16th of March all the fruit was off, including two blocks of treasured 100-year-old bush vines. We knew when we walked the blocks that there was an abundance of fine tannin and that flavours were in our favourite spectrum of musk and raspberry, but it matters little till it's in the fermenter.

Each of the six blocks was handled separately and it's fair to say that a ripple of excitement lifts the spirits of everyone in the team when we see the expression of each block slowly unfurl. Each has their own perfect alignment of tannin, flavour and sugar through ferment from fruit, fortuitously planted by our forebears and, dry-grown in sandy soils.

Grenache has an ability to bear the hardship of a changing Australian climate. Seeing how it handles each season leads me to wonder why Grenache is compared to other varieties, and why isn't it the other way round?

We've often heard the expression 'warm climate pinot noir' used to describe Grenache and used 'pinot like' in previous tasting notes. Perhaps it's Grenache's medium-bodied nature or the tendency for some winemakers to disguise the variety's abundance of tannin. Either way, I can no longer agree with the comparison.

For our team, Grenache more closely resembles regal Nebbiolo or ancient Aglianico. All three varieties have highly speculative origins and all three speak clearly of where they are grown rather than how they are made. I believe they are teaching my team and I to make better wine - to spend more time in the vineyard, to do less in the shed, to be patient and let the wine guide us rather than force our will into the bottle. All three varieties encourage us to further explore varietal tannin which we have come to believe moderates the exuberance of Australian red wine.

Patience does not come easily, nor naturally, to me. It's a valuable trait to learn and treasure. The imminent releases of the single vineyard 2020 Grenaches and the 2020 Olivers Rd Aglianico has taught me a lot about patience. We've waited and watched these wines come to life in the bottle and are excited that a release date has finally come.

The time required of the newest grenaches has yet to reveal itself, but the excitement is there and once again we will enjoy the wait. We've learned not to compare varieties, or even the separate blocks as they unfold, but to appreciate them for what they are."

Stephen Pannell

Old McDonald Grenache 2020

From a 78-year-old, dry-grown, bush-on-a-wire vineyard I have worked with since 2004 formally owned by Duncan McDonald and now farmed by Matt Hatwell. Typical Blewitt Springs sands at an altitude of 83m above sea level facing Southeast.

Hand-picked on the 29th of February at a Baume of 14.0 with an intensity of tannin and flavour that we have come to expect from this block. Fermented in an open top fermenter with 23% whole cluster, daily pump overs and 14 days on skins before very gentle pressing with no hard pressings used in the final wine. Transferred to a 4300L vat for settling before being racked off less and sent to a 2800L 9-year-old vat and a 3-year-old 1000L vat for maturation. Racked a further two times and bottled without filtration late June 2021. The final alcohol is 14% with a PH of 3.46, total acidity of 6.1 and total sulphur at bottling of 55ppm; 5100 bottles produced.

A persistent, powerful and complex release, unashamedly tannic. Furthers our exploration of varietal tannin.

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Stephen’s interest in Grenache stretches back to the mid 90’s upon first arriving in McLaren Vale. A preference for making medium bodied wine lead him to Grenache and the love affair began. Given the warm, Mediterranean-climate, Grenache grows as well in McLaren Vale as any of the more revered Grenache regions including France’s Rhone Valley, Priorat in Spain and Italy’s Sardinia. It’s medium bodied nature also makes it ideal for our food, life style and climate.

It is unusual and rare to find 100% Grenache wines, as most of the time it is blended. Stephen has been making a varietal Grenache from McLaren Vale for the past 22 years and can now provocatively state that he thinks it ages more gracefully than McLaren Vale Shiraz. Grenache will become McLaren Vale’s most recognised wine and our true wine of place.

The Vintage

How best to describe a vintage in a pandemic? Problematic. A dry start to the season with lower-than-expected winter and spring rainfall followed by a day of intense heat right on flowering lead to some early anxiety around yields. Fires and the devastation they bring struck around Christmas 2019 and many of our growers losing the livelihoods weighed heavy as we went into vintage. Thankfully the days got cooler sooner than anticipated allowing long even ripening. A year to remember and be thankful.

Winemaking

Variety: 100% Grenache Noir / Garnacha Tinta / Garnaxa / Cannonau.
Varietal Origin: Spain or Sardinia; an ancient variety with origins that are hotly contested.
Vineyard: 78 year old vines from the Hatwell vineyard, Blewitt Springs.
Process: Hand-picked on the 29th of February at a Baume of 14.0 with an intensity of tannin and flavour that we have come to expect from this block. Fermented in an open top fermenter with 23% whole cluster, daily pump overs and 14 days on skins before very gentle pressing with no hard pressings used in the final wine. Transferred to a 4300L vat for settling before being racked off less and sent to a 2800L 9-year-old vat and a 3-year-old 1000L vat for maturation. Racked a further two times and bottled without filtration late June 2021. 5,100 bottles produced.
Alcohol: 14%
pH: 3.46
TA: 6.1
Total Sulphur at bottling: 55ppm

For the Senses

Flavour Profile: Aromas of ripe raspberry, damon plum compote, candle wax and polished exotic wood, red lipstick, dark chocolate, Turkish delight and violets. A flavour invasion of cherry, cranberry, spice and rose petals.

Structure & Texture: The tannins are like a skeleton holding the flavour together before sneaking back to the front of the palate and starting all over again. Reminiscent of young Nebbiolo.

Cellaring: Keep it for up to 15+ years.

Serving: Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Palestinian Spices in Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan.

Winefront Review by Mike Bennie

Posted on 14 April 2022

“Slurpy, soft, round and ripe red wine with dark cherry, plummy fruit, clove and cinnamon spice characters and some dark chocolate to finish. Feels warm for grenache, a spicy, breathy hit of the variety with a sheet of flat tannin doing some chewiness for us all. Brooding expression, done ok.”

93 Points

Ned Goodwin MW - Halliday Wine Companion

"A more successful vintage across the elevated sands of Blewitt Springs than Clarendon. Delicious wine. Kirsch, thyme, dried rosemary, lavender, mint and florals, tiptoeing along a balance beam of fibrous tannins and saline freshness. Nothing drying. A squeaky pucker to the finish. Aussie sweet fruit, to be sure. But tamed. Long, flowing, and sandy of aura. Bravo!” 

95 points

Huon Hooke - The Real Review

Rated by Huon as his No1 McLaren Vale Grenache from 2020

“Bright, medium to deep red/purple colour. Red fruits and sweet herb aromas, hints of brandied cherries, the palate full-bodied, deep, and powerful, with a sheen of fine but firm tannins that run the length of the palate. It’s almost luscious in the mouth. A powerful, impressive wine with a very promising future. The tannins are fine, firm and emery-like. Serious potential here.” 

96 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

“A rich blueberry fruit nose with violet, dark nectarine and some exotic tamarillo and papaya too. Pungent and distinctive. The palate has a fleshy core of plush fruit with commanding tannins that have so much power and energy but are delivered with grace. The flavours are blood orange, pink grapefruit, goji and red currant and are concentrated to the very end. Refreshing and packed with interest. Drink over the next decade. Screw cap.”

98 Points

 

Smart Grenache 2020

The fourth release from a 65-year-old, dry-grown, bush-vine vineyard on the edge of the Clarendon township, 230m above sea level facing Southeast, farmed by Bernie and Wayne Smart.

Hand-picked on the 17th of March. Perfect bunches with no shrivel and a Baume of 13.7. Fermented in an open top fermenter with daily pump overs and 10 days on skins before gently pressing with no hard pressings used. Transferred after settling to a 2800L 9-year-old vat and 2 XL puncheons. Racked twice and bottled, without filtration, late June 2021. The final alcohol is 14% with a PH of 3.3, total acidity of 6.6 and total sulphur at bottling of 56ppm; 5300 bottles produced.

A more composed release than previous years, a reflection of the season not the winemakers.

_

Stephen’s interest in Grenache stretches back to the mid 90’s upon first arriving in McLaren Vale. A preference for making medium bodied wine lead him to Grenache and the love affair began. Given the warm, Mediterranean-climate, Grenache grows as well in McLaren Vale as any of the more revered Grenache regions including France’s Rhone Valley, Priorat in Spain and Italy’s Sardinia. It’s medium bodied nature also makes it ideal for our food, life style and climate.

It is unusual and rare to find 100% Grenache wines, as most of the time it is blended. Stephen has been making a varietal Grenache from McLaren Vale for the past 22 years and can now provocatively state that he thinks it ages more gracefully than McLaren Vale Shiraz. Grenache will become McLaren Vale’s most recognised wine and our true wine of place.

The Vintage

How best to describe a vintage in a pandemic? Problematic. A dry start to the season with lower-than-expected winter and spring rainfall followed by a day of intense heat right on flowering lead to some early anxiety around yields. Fires and the devastation they bring struck around Christmas 2019 and many of our growers losing the livelihoods weighed heavy as we went into vintage. Thankfully the days got cooler sooner than anticipated allowing long even ripening. A year to remember and be thankful.

Winemaking

Variety: 100% Grenache Noir / Garnacha Tinta / Garnaxa / Cannonau.
Varietal Origin: Spain or Sardinia; an ancient variety with origins that are hotly contested.
Vineyard: 65-year-old, dry-grown, bush-vine vineyard on the edge of Clarendon, farmed by Bernie and Wayne Smart
Process: Hand-picked on the 17th of March. Perfect bunches with no shrivel and a Baume of 13.7. Fermented in an open top fermenter with daily pump overs and 10 days on skins before gently pressing with no hard pressings used. Transferred after settling to a 2800L 9-year-old vat and 2 XL puncheons. Racked twice and bottled, without filtration, late June 2021. 5,300 bottles produced.
Alcohol: 14%
pH: 3.3
TA: 6.6
Total Sulphur at bottling: 56ppm

For the Senses

Flavour Profile: Intensely perfumed, strangely reminiscent of the 80's, citrus peel, framboise, kirsch, turned rose wood and musk lollies. A flavour invasion of citrus peel and raspberry, musk lollies, cherry pips, rosewater and exotic spice.

Structure & Texture: Composed, juicy and seductive with velvety tannins and a 'gotcha' moment on the back palate that funnels the tannins into a fine point. Achingly long finish.

Cellaring: Keep it for up to 10+ years.

Serving: Side by side with Old McDonald Grenache and a slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Palestinian Spices in Zaitoun by Yasmin Khan.

Winefront Review by Mike Bennie

Posted on 14 April 2022

“Perfume and pretty expression with white pepper, sappy green herbs, red cherry/currants, light-fresh feeling frame and a feathery presence of sandy tannin giving shape. Bright and vibrant expression, pure and glides along beautifully. Lovely, finer expression.”

95 Points

Huon Hooke - The Real Review

"Deep, bright red/purple colour. The aromas are fresh and primary, highly perfumed raspberry, gumleaf and mint, the palate lean and edgy with sinuous tannins and freshening acidity. There's tension and medium-long carry. It could benefit from a year or two's cellaring to mellow a little. Some fresh herbs. It's a touch raw right now but has lots of potential”

 92 Points

Nick Stock - James Suckling

"From a low-yielding vintage, this wine has such a precise and fragrant style with fresh and lively red currant, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry fruit aromas. Berry pastry and Monte Carlo biscuit here too. Vibrant and succulent palate with elegant tension to the fine, long tannins and arrow-like acidity. Raspberry finish. Uplifting and delicious. Drink or hold. Screw cap. 26 Oct, 2021”

97 Points  

 

Basso Garnacha 2020

The idea for an early-release, low-sulphur, unfiltered Grenache had been bubbling away for a few years and in 2017 access to the right fruit from a dry-grown vineyard, sparked the Basso project into life. From the Latin Bassus, meaning low, Basso is low in additions and speaks clearly of the place from which it comes.

Lighter, warm-climate red wines based on Grenache particularly from McLaren Vale have a growing place on the tables of Australian diners. Youthful and flavoursome wines that match where and how we live and the food we love to make and eat.

The Vintage

How best to describe a vintage in a pandemic? Problematic. A dry start to the season with lower than expected winter and spring rainfall followed by a day of intense heat right on flowering lead to some early anxiety around yields. Fires and the devastation they bring struck around Christmas and many of our growers losing the livelihoods weighed heavy as we went into vintage. Thankfully the days got cooler sooner than anticipated allowing long even ripening. A year to remember and be thankful.

Winemaking

Variety: 100% Grenache Noir /Garnacha Tinta/ Garnaxa/ Cannonau
Varietal Origin: Sardinia or Spain; an ancient variety with origins that are hotly contested.
Vineyard: McLaren Vale
Process: Harvested at 13.7 Baume, fermented in open top fermenters with daily pump overs, 10 days on skins before gentle pressing, malolactic fermen- tation followed by maturation in large French oak vats. Racked twice and sent to bottle without filtration on the 8th of February 2021, 24,000 bottles produced.
Alcohol: 14%
Ph: 3.54
TA: 5.0
Total Sulphur: 27 ppm

For the Senses

Flavour Profile: Raspberry liqueur, red apple skin, autumn, dark spice and cinnamon; a seductive perfume that is vibrant. The palate follows through with a very berry freshness from red to blue

Structure & Texture: Youthful and magically medium bodied. Tea like tannins, that are super fine and linger, carry the red fruits. Beautiful.

Cellaring: Perfect now but will happily hang around for five years, maybe longer.

Serving: Slow roasted shoulder of lamb with couscous, dates and almonds by Claudia Roden in Med A Cookbook.

(Image: SC Pannell)

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