Take a trip to one of Australia’s prettiest wine regions and partake of its special produce
Ask any wine buff to name their favourite region in South Australia and usually the Barossa Valley comes up trumps. The home of Penfolds Grange and numerous black-as-night hearty shirazes have convinced many that the Barossa is without doubt South Australia’s peak wine region – the king of the mountain.
However, for the biggest, boldest wines in South Australia it is another region, just south of Adelaide, where these wines are generally found – in the McLaren Vale.
Located on St Vincent Gulf and the road south down to Cape Jarvis, the pretty town of McLaren Vale boasts dozens of high quality wineries, including some of Australia’s best-loved brands. Within the region’s picturesque low rolling hills are found renowned red wine specialists d’Arenberg, Oliver’s Taranga, Wirra Wirra and Coriole – just a taste of the names that call McLaren Vale home.
There is also myriad tiny, family-owned ventures and even the odd brewery that make McLaren Vale not only highly diverse, but also a tremendous tourist destination.
While the McLaren Vale is relatively close to a host of other wine regions, such as the Adelaide Hills, Clare and Barossa Valleys, its climate is completely different.
McLaren Vale is a wine region of gentle hills
The little bit of altitude in the Adelaide Hills plus cooler nights in the Barossa and Clare Valleys manage to impart some elegance to wines from these regions, but not so in McLaren Vale.
Long hot summers, similar to nearby Adelaide, and the warming influence of the gulf impart massive colour and fruit concentration, which are immediate tell-tale signs for McLaren Vale reds.
There is also a strong movement in the area towards environmental sustainability. Mike Brown of Gemtree and SacredTree wines is a leader in this field, utilising a range of organic and biodynamic principles to create not only superb wines but also those that respect the local environment.
In McLaren Vale it is shiraz and grenache that generally produce the finest wines with both varieties well accustomed to the region’s extreme heat. But recent years have also seen the area become a melting pot for grape varieties from around the world, both whites and reds.
Italian white varieties such as fiano and vermentino as well as alternative European red grapes such as tempranillo, sagrantino, mencia and sangiovese are also becoming extremely popular as they are also well suited to the region’s warm temperatures.
All this makes a trip through McLaren Vale an eye-opening and highly enjoyable introduction to the world of wine beyond Australia.
(Feature image: Gemtree Wines)