Friday, March 22, 2019

McLaren Vale Red Wines

In the 1990s, in Piedmont, a 'war' broke out between the so called traditionalists and the modernists. The traditionalists employed long maceration periods, and they produced tannic Barolos to be consumed after a number of years of cellaring. Then some winemakers came along who radically reduced maceration times and produced fresh wines which could be enjoyed young. Furious arguments went on for some time, both sides moved a bit to the middle, and finally it is a fairly happy co-existence.

There is no war in McLaren Vale, as far as I know, but a similar thing is happening. The traditionalists produce tannic full-bodied wines, mainly Shiraz and Grenache, and mostly from the flatter southern part, based on alluvial soils. Then there is a group of winemakers who source material from the hillier north, mainly Clarendon and Blewitt Springs, and emphasize elegance and delicacy above all else.

It is not quite as clear cut as that, but earlier in the week I visited Kay Brothers, dÁrenberg and Oliver's Taranga, who I would put in the first group, and Bekkers, Yangarra and SC Pannell, who I would put in the second group. One thing is clear; you don't know anymore what you will get from a McLaren Vale red, unless you know the producer or have tasted the wine. Individual tasting reports will follow.  

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