The many beauties of McLaren Vale

The third of several Key Review of Wine reports focuses on McLaren Vale. It’s part of a series that will be sent in January and February. After that they will settle down to one perhaps two a week.

The issue has been the increase in samples for review I receive combined with the lack of space in each weeks Key Report to publish all the reviews.

The outpouring in January/February will be a cleansing of all the reviews I wrote but not able to publish in 2016.

I’m not much of a traveller, I see little need to be constantly charging about Australian wine regions. The odd visit to a region if it’s educational such as the one to the Riverland a couple of years ago or if I’m asked to work while I’m there is reason enough.

Believe or not but I think of the cost to winery or region and then think if I’m really worth it. Can I honestly be of good service to them for the money they are forking out?

I think a lot of wine people be it writers or sommeliers grossly over value themselves.  A lot of it is to do with ego and keeping their face out in front it’s not so much for the people they are visiting more to do with self-promotion. For a winery or region its pot luck if they get a mention in an article or a new listing.

One region I enjoy visiting whenever I am in Adelaide for wine industry conferences is McLaren Vale, I love the place and the people. It’s welcoming in a way places such as the Yarra or Mornington are not, I feel at peace there as I do where I live in the hills behind Byron Bay.

I know its very hippy-dippy but sense of place for me is not where grapes grow best it’s where I feel best. Adding to the feeling of contentment are the people of McLaren Vale, good people that offer a warm hand of friendship, plus great wine and hospitality.

Below there are over 30 wines reviewed. A couple of rose the rest red, a lot of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon but also a very interesting selection of blends.

Happy drinking


The many beauties of McLaren Vale


Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Sangiovese Rosé 2016: Light on nose and starts light on the palate but it builds and by the middle of the palate its racing, flavours tumble and summersault around the overall effect spectacular 94 points and very good value. On sale on-line at Dan’s $18

Mule ‘Gateway Vineyard’ McLaren Vale Rose 2016: Made from sangiovese its light on the nose and light on entry a sour (good) edge appears in the middle of the palate also making it better with food 90 points Its price is put at $35 which I think way too high even for a biodynamic vineyard wine, but I note Vinomofo had it listed at $12.50 and that is about right in my estimation, do be aware by the time of publication it may have been sold.


d’Arenberg ‘The Ironstone Pressings’ McLaren Vale 2013: It’s a grenache dominant wine with a good scoop of shiraz and finished with a sprinkle of mourvedre. Not the sort of lusty lass, mother would approve of, but so much fun and extremely naughty, X rated adults only, brace yourself, 94 points and worth $65

Zonte’s Footstep ‘Z Force’ McLaren Vale Shiraz Petit Sirah 2013: Powerful spice nose with a hint of prune, on entry it grows quickly, filling all parts of the mouth instantly. This would be overbearing but it quickly settles so it becomes a pleasant experience to start the journey. It retains its power all the way across the palate but it’s well toned, this body is in good shape, plenty of gym time. An easy 94 points perhaps another one maybe two down the track, only time will tell, its worth the $55 asked

Dub Style McLaren Vale No 4 Re-Mix 2014: Out of the Inkwell stable it’s a grenache mataro blend that’s medium weight a chewy juicy wine that is a joy to drink also works well chilled, 93 points and worth $40

Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards ‘Corrina’s’ McLaren Vale Shiraz-Cabernet 2014: Hearty is the word that first came to mind, good wholesome and hearty like homemade stew/soups. It has depth as it travels and length on the finish, good wine all round, 93 points and an OK price at $32

McLaren Vale Associates ‘Renaissance’ McLaren Vale Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot 2014: Unusual to see Merlot leading a blend but it works, I found this an intriguing wine the flavours unfurling in a long sensuous way across the palate, 94 points and well worth $25

Angove ‘Family Crest’ McLaren Vale Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro 2015: Soft raspberry grenache flavours at the very beginning with the other two grapes adding structure and more character on the journey, its slightly deceptive but boy it works well and has great charm 93 points and great value at $22

Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Grenache-Shiraz-Mataro 2015: An incredible wine for the price ($16). It works on two levels, one is juicy red fruits, lip smacking stuff but there is a deeper level one that satisfies the inner self, 94 points

Haselgrove ‘Cul-Stor’ McLaren Vale Shiraz-Cabernet-Cab Franc 2015: A complete mix of black fruits, earth and mushroom on the nose, this complexity continues in the mouth it hits many pleasure spots instantly and rolls and tumbles across the palate, it settles towards the end and finishes with an aristocratic elegance 95 points (price has gone walkabout)

Parous McLaren Vale Shiraz-Mataro 2015: The question about this wine is not the role of shiraz, let’s accept it’s good, very good. But the role mataro plays in the construction of the wine, it lifts and heightens the shiraz, it’s the seasoning or whatever one wants to call it, what can’t be denied is it works. 94 points and worth the $40 asked

Willunga 100 McLaren Vale Shiraz-Grenache 2015: No reference on the website when I checked (late December) and no idea of price, but very fine wine and worth 94 points


The Hundred ‘Single Vineyard’ McLaren Vale Grenache 2015: Soft and supple to start but the well-toned muscle shows through about mid-way on the journey 94 points and a bargain at $30

Allegiance ‘The Artisan’ McLaren Vale Grenache 2012:  Generous grenache raspberry fruit nose with some of the same character following on the palate it builds as it travels ending on a high note of enjoyment, 94 points, top price at $40

Cabernet sauvignon:

Haselgrove ‘First Cut’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013:  Lost of black fruits on both nose and at the front of the palate, good structure as it rolls in a lazy fashion across the palate the flavours are soft the tannins rounded, lots of pleasure for $19, 93 points

Haselgrove ‘Protector’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: Black as night without stars, deep as devilment and smooth as black satin, a sensuous wine that caresses the palate on its journey, a wonderful experience for just $40, 95 points

d’Arenberg ‘The High Trellis’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: It has the warmth and richness that typifies the Vale cabernet, some say it’s rough but I have always enjoyed the style. This is a fulfilling style, solid and sound all across its journey and full of merriment, 93 points and worth the $18 asked

d’Arenberg ‘The Coppermine Road’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2013: Its richer than many CS but none the worse for that. A dark craven of a wine the depth seemingly unmeasurable, it’s a cabernet that has a style of its own and rewarding for being so 95 points and worth $65

Richard Hamilton ‘Hut Block’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: Mid weight in the mouth it’s still developing and changes as it travels but the quality is there and it will settle in a year or so when it may add another point or two 92 now and value at $21 better value at Dan’s for only $17

Mitolo ‘Jester’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2014: Jester is the basic range in the Mitolo portfolio and this is a very sound McLaren Vale cabernet, 93 points and a lot of competition at $25

Shingleback ‘Red Knot’ McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2015: An exclusive to Dan Murphy’s and BWS, well made well balanced all parts where they should be easy to drink not over pushy but no shrinking violet either 92 points and worth $15


d’Arenberg ‘The Dead Arm’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2013: Nothing dead about this wine although it moves across the palate in a slow, majestic way leaving in its wake sparks of intense flavour, its still a youngster and will change with maturity however its giving great pleasure at the moment so 94 points now perhaps a couple more to come and worth the $60 Dan’s is asking (the link to d’Arenberg website only showing the 2011)

Inkwell ‘Perfect Day’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014: There was a difference to this shiraz, couldn’t pin it and didn’t think of it being other than 100 per cent shiraz, when checking the link I find there is 4 per cent primitivo included. It doesn’t intrude but adds a twist, perhaps it’s what gives a sour (good) edge to the sweet rich sensual McLaren Vale shiraz, fabulous wine all the way, 94 points and worth $40

Chapel Hill ‘House Block’ McLaren Vale 2014:  Of the three shiraz samples sent from individual McLaren Vale vineyards this House Block slightly disappointed, having said this, one has to take into consideration it was a tasting of high quality shiraz wines, its earthy but with lots of black fruit character, 94 points and in the right price bracket at $65

Shingleback ‘Reserve’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014: I don’t think I have ever been disappointed in a Shingleback wine and this doesn’t break the chain, the richness of the Vale with some unusual (for this wine) hints of savoury character 94 points and well worth $24

Pertaringa McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015: Not over complex but interesting enough to hold the drinkers attention all the way, 93 points $35 is the asking price

Haselgrove ‘The Lear’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015: At the time of writing the website was still showing the 2014, this may change by time of publication, its smart wine no doubting that, the feline, suggestive journey across the palate holding allure of all things pleasurable, 95 points a touch on the pricy side at $90 but not outrageous for the quality

Geoff Hardy ‘Hand Crafted’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015: ‘Plum’ I got it on the nose and across the palate, it was rather wonderful, soft wine easy to drink but pleasing on the finish, 93 points and at the top end of the price bracket at $30

Shingleback ‘Haycutters’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015:  Honest wine showing what one expects from quality McLaren vale shiraz, 93 points. An exclusive to Vintage Cellars, First Choice and Liquorland around $17 which is great value

Curtis ‘Cavaliere’ McLaren Vale Shiraz 2015: This is the pinnacle of the Curtis family wine portfolio, the good points, it has power, character, length and depth, the downside its raw and the oak leaves splinters in the teeth, it’s a wine to buy and cellar so a very mean 90 now but I am sure more will come, $70 is too much for a wine to drink now and properly within the next three years but to put away it’s a fair price


Richard Hamilton ‘Lot 148’ McLaren Vale Merlot 2014: Is it the vines are getting older or is it my own ageing, I’m beginning to enjoy more merlot’s. Rich plum character, smooth journey and not poor on the finish at all, 93 points and worth it’s $21

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