The Vagabond Grenache, McLaren Vale, 2013
Although we might be somewhat deluded in our belief that the world is just about to wake up to the delights of Grenache, our extensive travels throughout The Rhone and in Spain convinced us that with low yields and meticulous fruit sourcing, Grenache makes world class wine.
We're also convinced that, of all of the regions of Australia, the greatest potential for greatness is in the McLaren Vale.
We therefore set about finding unique plots throughout the region, looking for specific soil formations that would embue the Vagabond with finesse, varietal purity and texture
A normal winter with adequate rainfall was followed by a very dry spring, summer and autumn. Mid summer temperatures were moderate which led to excellent early ripening before a series of heatwaves resulted in accelerated ripening. Where water was available and where the canopy was healthy, fruit quality was very high with low yields giving the potential to make great wines.
In 2013, the fruit for the Vagabond came from the Blewitt Springs and Seaview subregions of McLaren Vale. The fruit from a single vineyard in Blewitt Springs is from 70 year old, dry grown, bush vines planted in deep sands with some ironstone. Fruit from 40 year old trellised vines in the Seaview subregion were grown on sandy brown loams.
Both vineyards were vinified separately. The Blewitt Springs portion was hand picked, gently crushed to retain whole berries and then cold soaked for 5 days prior to fermentation. Twice daily hand plunging during fermentation was followed by gentle pressing before running to 300 litre hogsheads. 20 new French oak was used, with the balance being made up of used French.
The Seaview portion was treated differently. Hand picked and 15% whole bunches retained which lined the fermenter before adding the lightly crushed berries. Cold soaked for 5 days then fermented with twice daily hand plunging before pressing and running off to 300 litre hogsheads.
A savage selection was made after 6 months ageing with the blend being dominated by the Blewitt Springs fruit which exhibit pure, lifted raspberry and savoury strawberry fruit while the minority portion of Seaview fruit brings depth, concentration and rich cherry fruit.
The overwhelming impression is of lightness, lift and purity with hints of dried citrus, spice and cherry. Not for nothing is Grenache known as the Pinot of the South!