Tempranillo [temp-rah-nee-yo]

TEMPRANILLO. [Pronounced: temp-rah-nee-yo]

A Spanish grape varietal, generally producing wine with slightly savoury characteristics. While Spanish versions usually reflect more leather, cherries and earthiness, Australian winemaking and terroir tends to product more fruit-driven examples with black cherry and blueberries driving the palate.

Medium bodied and with decent (but not usually overwhelming) tannins, it could be considered Spain’s answer to Italy’s sangiovese and complements the food of its country: chorizo, tapas, spicy seafood, paella, tacos, burritos… you get the drift. Generally more responsive in warmer climates, the Australian regions with most success making tempranillo are the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Heathcote and Margaret River.

A TRULY TASTY TANTALISING TEMPRANILLO!

A singing tempranillo to try out this summer is from the Willunga 100 vineyard in the McLaren Vale. Crack it open at your afternoon barbeque, and because it compliments food so well, you can enjoy it with just about anything (although it really shines with Spanish and Mexican flavours). It’s another great drop from wine‑maker Mark Farmilo, who has recently been working alongside Willunga in their winemaking.

The wine is highly accoladed: 93 points & five stars from Wine Orbit; 91 points from Patrick Eckel; 90 points from Huon Hooke and the 2017  vintage has recently scored 95 points and Gold with James Halliday!

“Excellent colour; very precise black cherries, spices and darker berries on the back-palate, fine but firm tannins. Will relish time in bottle, and its great balance willstand it in good stead. Quality oak, too.” – JAMES HALLIDAY, 1ST AUGUST 2019.

https://www.vendimia.com.au/products/24337-willunga-100-tempranillo/

 

Meet the maker… Mike Farmilo

Meet the maker… Mike Farmilo, McLaren Vale SA.

Mike Farmilo is the un-sung hero behind both Monterra Wines and Colab & Bloom, the funky McLaren Vale brand he and his business partner, Norm Doole established in 2015. Indeed, Mike Farmilo has flown under the vinous radar for four decades despite an extensive career that began at Angove after he graduated from Roseworthy College in 1977. A stint at Seaview saw Farmilo fall in love with McLaren Vale, an affair that’s remained ever since. Farmilo was recruited from Seaview into the challenging role of Group Red Winemaker with the industry giant, Southcorp — now part of Treasury Wine Estates.

It was at Southcorp that Mike’s talents came to full fruition with the responsibility for the benchmark red wines of Penfolds, Lindemans, Seppelt and Wynns. Farmilo was deeply involved with crafting Penfolds’ iconic Grange and instrumental in winning two Jimmy Watson trophies, the highly prized Melbourne Wine Show’s ‘Top Young Red’ trophy. To cap off his Southcorp career, Farmilo was crowned McLaren Vale Bushing King in 1994 as maker of the Championship Wine of the Show. Retiring from Southcorp in 1997 wasn’t for Farmilo, so he turned his focus to numerous projects that have kept him busy over the last 20 years including vintages in Germany, California, France and Chile. Mike has judged at dozens of Wine Shows across the country, including chairing the Australian Small Winemakers Show in Stanthorpe.

While the Monterra portfolio includes traditional French shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and pinot noir, it’s Italianate grapes that are catching Farmilo’s attention with pinot grigio and nero d’Avola adding spice to his winemaking endeavours. Under the Colab & Bloom banner Farmilo pushes well beyond the boundaries of corporate winemaking with tempranillo and garnacha (aka grenache) shining. Farmilo is back in the zone and loving it — enjoying the fruits of his labour.

Check out our Mark Farmilo wine picks: 

Monterra Reserve Black Label Shiraz  

Colab and Bloom Grenache

Willunga 100 Tempranillo

Meet neighbours Hobbs and Chris Ringland

We would like to introduce you to winemaking legend Chris Ringland’s long-time neighbours and friends: the Hobbs family.

The Hobbs story began in 1998 when winemakers Greg & Allison Hobbs had their neighbour (and outstanding winemaker!!) Chris Ringland make their first few vintages. The Hobb’s vineyard is situated at the top of the Barossa Ranges, overlooking Flaxman’s Valley. With vines over a century old, the grapes grown on this course yellow soil get richer and more distinctively Barossa-flavoured as the decades roll by.

Since then, Chris has guided their path in the winemaking game, joining them as consultant & friend on their journey to creating some of the Barossa’s best boutique wines. Greg Hobbs is now one of the few Australian winemakers to attempt an Amarone style shiraz (where the fruit is semi-dried until it is similar to raisins) to produce a richer, deeper and more complex wine.

Chris Ringland also produces iconic Barossa wine in very small batches (think 700 to 1000 bottles per year) and was once given a score of 100 Points by American wine critic Robert Parker. Combined, this dynamic duo produce some remarkable wine just oozing with rich, fruity Barassa Valley goodness.

Check our our ‘Festive Neighbours’ pack which includes a selection of Hobb’s and Ringland’s premium red wines, and is an amazing introduction into wine in this price bracket for only $399 per half-dozen case.

Or see our full range of Hobbs wines, including 2 Amarone style Shiraz’s & a viognier that is enough to convert any wine drinker that white can be more serious than red!

Region Insight: Clare Valley

HOME OF AUSTRALIA’S PREMIUM RIESLING

Located some 100km north of the Barossa and 140km north of Adelaide, this region produces some of Australia’s premium Riesling. The fruit produced here makes delicious wines with great depth and intensity. Elevation is one of the factors that make Clare such a prime region for grape growing – particularly for Riesling and Shiraz. Although not technically considered a ‘cool-climate’ area, most of the vineyards are planted at between 400 and 500 metres above sea level, meaning cool to cold nights during the growing season. Given its distance from the ocean, the region is also quite continental, so warm to hot during the day and quite dry while the vines are ripening their fruit.

Although Clare Valley is more famously known for its Riesling, it’s the same climatic conditions that help to produce its unique style of red wine with the three top varieties being Shiraz, Cabernet and Grenache. Clare Valley reds present a delicious contradiction. On one hand they’re big and bold, yet on the other, underlying acidity creates beautiful elegance. Pikes and Knappstein are two of the better-known producers from the area.

Comparing your Shiraz’s

While many wine drinkers make their wine selection simply based upon a preferred variety (a nice pinot noir over a merlot for example) they can sometimes be quite surprised by the results in the bottle. And why should we find this unusual? While all wine labels must clearly state the variety, vineyard & vintage, they can never truly represent all the specific characteristics of a wine deeply shaped by their growing region and vintage. In this short review of three of our beautiful–yet–different featured shiraz offerings, Peter Bourne introduces us to the wonderful world of terroir…

HUNTER VALLEY, NSW – OAKVALE SHIRAZ ’17

The Hunter Valley is regarded as the birthplace of Australian wine and is undoubtedly a great example of terroir. Why? Because on the face of it the warm, humid climate of the Hunter Valley is not conductive to winegrowing, with sub-tropical storms in the peak January/February growing season diluting flavours and increasing disease pressure. However, in the dry years, such as 2014, the afternoon cloud cover and cool overnight temperatures slows the ripening process so the grapes build more flavour. Flavours of Hunter shiraz are variously described as savoury/umami, or in the ‘olden’ days — sweaty saddle and cow shed. The 2014 is in the former mould, with intense wild blackberry flavours, hints of clove and a taut tannin structure. Drink now with a rare steak or cellar for five or more years.

 

MCLAREN VALE, SA –MONTERRA RESERVE SHIRAZ ’17

Although the Barossa and McLaren Vale are just hours apart, there’s a distinct difference between the two winegrowing regions, with shiraz being the perfect mirror to compare the two terroirs. McLaren Vale is unashamedly hot in summer but the breezes off St Vincent’s Gulf moderate the heat, with the mix of sandy soils near the coast and more complex red and brown loams in the Clarendon Hills bringing a juicy, red & black fruit flavours with a more compact tannin profile. Mike Farmilo makes his Monterra Shiraz in the traditional style with oodles of flavours that just cry out for a barbecue – chops, sausages or a good hamburger.

BAROSSA VALLEY, SA – BETHANY EAST GROUNDS SHIRAZ ’16

While the more inland Barossa valley region enjoys the same warm conditions as the McLaren Vale, the combination of a more continental climate (with cooler nights) and its richer soil adds depth and power to the Barossa shiraz style. The Schrapel family have farmed the Eastern Hills of the Barossa Ranges for 150 years with the 2016 East Grounds Shiraz a  typically dense, intense shiraz with dark chocolate and black fruits bouquet, a rich compact core of equally dark fruits and a skein of compact tannins binding the wine together. Best with a leg of lamb and lots of roasted vegetables.

 

Isn’t Shiraz.. just Shiraz??

SHIRAZ IS AUSTRALIA’S MOST IMPORTANT GRAPE VARIETY – AND HAS BEEN FOR OVER 180 YEARS.

The key to its success is mainly shiraz’s versatility and willingness to reside in a wide variety of climates, from cool sites like the Great Southern, Grampian and Canberra districts to the temperate climes of the Clare Valley, Heathcote and Mudgee. Shiraz also thrives in our warmest regions like the Hunter & Barossa Valleys and McLaren Vale. Tasmania is the only state without any significant plantings of shiraz.  That said, the much lauded Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy of 2011 went to the 2010 Glaetzer Dixon Mon Pere Syrah – much to the embarrassment of the Barossa boys that year.

But not only is shiraz viticulturally versatile, but it clearly reflects the dirt in which it’s grown, with an incredible range of flavours and styles — from the rich earthy flavours of Hunter shiraz to the litheframed, pepper-and-spice styles of the Frankland River area.

The traditional home of shiraz is the northern Rhône — its epicentre the famous hill of Hermitage where James Busby collected his seminal vine cuttings in December 1831. Busby’s plantings at Kirkton Park in the Upper Hunter spawned the remarkable legacy that has seen shiraz/syrah planted across the nation. The shiraz/syrah confusion has now been settled with DNA evidence proving they are the same grape variety. The research dates syrah back a millennia with its birthplace near Lyon. The myth that shiraz/syrah came from the Persian (now Iranian) city of Shiraz has now been laid to rest.

Nowadays shiraz generally flies solo in Australia, however historically it was often paired with cabernet sauvignon. The premise given was that shiraz gave rich, juicy flavours while the cabernet sauvignon gave structure, power and length. The introduction of merlot to Australia in the 1980’s saw cabernet sauvignon merlot replace the traditional ‘cab shiraz’ blends, although Penfold’s Bin 389 and Yalumba ‘The Signature’ still carry the flag.

Shiraz is also grown in the southern Rhône, and is one of the thirteen acknowledged varieties of the Cote du Rhône (and more celebrated, Châteauneuf du Pape) appellation(s). However, grenache is king in the warmer sites of the southern Rhône. Australian wine makers follow a similar path with their GSM blends (grenache, shiraz, mourvèdre), sometimes swapping the dominant grape to make a SGM or even MSG. Whatever the blend these lush, plush reds make perfect partners to pies, pizza, pasta or anything off the barbecue.

Shiraz takes on a sophisticated guise when a splash of viognier is added – a la Cote Rotie, one of the revered appellations of the northern Rhône. The local icon is Clonakilla, with Tim Kirk creating a whole new genre of shiraz with his slinky, subtle, spicy-laden take on the variety. Just 5-10% viognier is all that’s necessary — the results are astonishing.

Shiraz will remain at the top, not because we all love dense, warm blooded, high octane styles but because of its adaptability to different climates, different soils and most importantly to different winemaking philosophies. Viva la difference — be it shiraz or syrah.

Region Insight: Eden Valley

SO CLOSE TO THE BAROSSA… BUT SO DIFFERENT IN STYLE!

The Eden Valley is an amazing region, capable of producing perfect cool climate wines from Chardonnay to Zinfandel, but is also recognised for its beautiful Shiraz and Riesling.

Bordering the Barossa Valley, the Eden Valley’s altitude, cooler temperatures and cool nights produce wines with elegance and good acid structure. For most wine lovers, Eden Valley is
famous for dry, crisp Riesling and elegant Shiraz.

Many other varieties also do well here including Viognier, Roussanne, Tempranillo, Nebbiolo and Semillion. Thorn-Clarke, Henschke, Yalumba and Irvine Wines are doing great things in this extremely diverse region.

Regional Wine Shows, Special Purpose Shows & Competitions

Regional Wine Shows

While capital city shows accept entries from all over the county, the (smaller) regional shows are limited to the wines from their region. For instance the Royal Hobart Wine Show is a national show, while the Tasmanian Wine Show is limited to the Island’s wines. The Royal Adelaide Wine Show is national, while regional wine shows are run in the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and the Limestone Coast, which incorporates Coonawarra. The National Wine Show of Australia only accepts entries that ‘qualify through Australian regional & capital city wine shows, and special purpose competitions’ and is essentially looking for the best of the best.

Special Purpose Shows and Competitions

While the agricultural and regional wine shows are run on a not-for-profit basis, there are a number of commercial wine shows. The Australian & New Zealand Boutique Wine Show, the Sydney International Wine Competition, the National Cool Climate Wine Show, Australian Small Winemakers Show, the Canberra International Riesling Challenge and the Great Australian Shiraz Challenge are just a few of the names out there. All are professionally run, but consumers may be baffled by the difference between a small winemaker and a boutique one.

How important are these competitions for winemakers and vineyards?

While the winning of these awards can create a splash in the media, it is certainly not mandatory for winegrowers to enter into wine shows — and is actually a very costly process in terms of dollars, time and wine for the winemaker. Often small prestige producers with limited stock would rather sell via their cellar door. Large companies and those new to the business can gain attention by boasting of their gold medals and trophies, but on the flip side, a cult maker may not want to tell their dedicated customers their latest chardonnay scored just 14 points!! It happened to one of our iconic winegrowers and he’s never entered a wine show since.

The 100 Point System

What is this 100 point system I keep hearing about in the wine world??

Robert Parker Junior published the subscription-based Wine Advocate for over 30 years, predicated on his ability to pick winners. The great 1982 Bordeaux reds were overlooked by the traditional English wine critics, but Parker trumpeted their virtues. He was right, and his reputation was set in stone.

Parker began using a 100 point system, with all his top wines scoring in the high-90’s. Parker has awarded 100 points to the Chamber’s Rosewood Rutherglen Rare Muscat. The US-based Wine Spectator followed Parker’s lead with their 1995 Top 100 Wine of the Year awarded to the 1990 Penfold’s Grange with a rating of 97 points – a wine listed at $100 USD per bottle!!

Australian Wine Shows have now adopted the 100 point system with wines scoring less than 85 points in the N.B.M. category, a silver medal awarded at 90 points and a gold above 95. James Halliday follows the 100 point system, scoring the Morris of Rutherglen Old Premium Rare Liqueur Muscat at 100 points.

Victories versus value… is it worth it??

In reality, medals and trophies are only a guide and rarely take into account price. A $15 bottle can rub shoulders in the same wine-show class as a $150 bottle. Is the $150 bottle ten times as good? No—it may be better but the multiplier effect really doesn’t work with wine. Wines in the $10-$20 range are made to drink now and not necessarily cellared for a decade. Winning a medal — or even better, a trophy — is a quality guide but in the end, trust your palate and buy the wines that bring pleasure to you, your family and your friends.

 

Region Insight: Margaret River

From Run-Down Dairy Country to International Limelight in just 50 years…

The universal awareness of the Margaret River Wine Region is such that it’s hard to believe that winegrowing on this pristine coastline began just over 50 years ago. Dr Tom Cullity planted experimental vines at Vasse Felix in 1967, making his first (disastrous) vintage in 1971. The pioneering stories of Tom and his medical mates, Dr Kevin Cullen (Cullen Wines) and Dr Bill Pannell (Moss Wood) is well told in ‘The Way It Was’ — a history of the early days of the Margaret River wine industry.

The Margaret River surfing beaches are legendary; indeed it was pull of the surf that brought the first tourists to (what was then) poor, run-down dairy country with dirt roads and little infrastructure. One young bleached-blonde, beer drinking surfer was Denis Horgan, who with the help of his brother John and the encouragement of Napa Valley guru Robert Mondavi, planted Leeuwin Estate near the township of Margaret River. Another dedicated surfer, David Hohnen (again with family support) founded Cape Mentelle — now part of the French prestige brand LVMH Group.

While wine is the now main drawcard, Margaret River has evolved into a wonderful tourist destination. The drive from Perth (shortened to 3 hours by recent road-upgrades) brings floods of  weekenders to the region, as well as copious numbers of trans-Nullarbor pilgrims. But other attractions aside, it’s certainly the quality of the wine that defines Margaret River. So pour a glass and taste for yourself.

Understanding the coastal terroir…

The Margaret River coastline stretches south of Busselton on Geographe Bay to Augusta, Australia‘s most south-westerly point. The best vineyards sit between the Bussell Highway and Caves Road, which meanders along in parallel with the Indian Ocean coastline. It’s the Indian Ocean that defines the maritime climate of the region, its warm currents making for mild winters while the cool on-shore breeze moderate summertime temperatures.

Vineyards to the north, around Wilyabrup and Yallingup (Woodlands, Domaine Naturaliste, Arimia and Windance), are a tad warmer producing fleshier reds while those near Margaret River township (Voyager, Leeuwin, Cape Mentelle and Xanadu) are cooler and better suited to white grapes and subtle, savoury reds. Vineyards to the east of the Bussell Highway are planted on heavier soils with the cool onshore breezes petering out, so it’s significantly hotter and the wines brawny and bold.

Speaking of soils, the coastline is marked by limestone caves with this porous sub-terrain topped with variety of soils—from ironstone gravels to sandy loams. These free-draining soils naturally limit yields with the persistent on-shore winds further reducing the crop by blowing flowers off the infant clusters. Low yields lead to high quality—a given with Margaret River wines.