Vintage: 2020

VintageProduct CodeFormatClosureAvailability
2020SP115A2012 x 75ScrewcapAvailable
Vegetarian
Vegan
Producer

In a very short space of time, Stephen Pannell has gone from being one of Australia’s best and brightest young talents to one of their most lauded winemakers.

He is a two-time winner of the fabled Jimmy Watson Trophy, the most prestigious wine award in Australia, and also won the top prize at the Alternative Varietals Wine Show three out of the last five years. Stephen moved into his own McLaren Vale winery in 2014, and now owns 36 hectares of vineyard. This control over his fruit has enabled him to take quality to an even higher level.

One of the key factors behind his success is the freshness in all his wines, something he achieves by picking earlier. “I can only pick early due to better viticulture”, he says. He is looking for the varietal ‘stamp’ rather than ‘varietal character’ in his wines, causing him to create blends such as the Grenache/Shiraz/Touriga, where the sum is greater than the parts. Because of this fresher ‘stamp’, he is also actively reducing oak influence in his wines by moving to larger, more neutral oak vessels.

It is difficult to pick out just one star among his wines. The early release ‘Basso’ Garnacha is unfiltered, with low sulphur, for drinking in its youth. The Grenache/Shiraz/Touriga has brilliant colour and is fresh and lifted on the nose with soft, supple tannins on the palate. When asked about the Tempranillo/Touriga blend, Stephen explains, “the more I work with Touriga, the bigger a part of this blend it becomes.

The ‘Dead End’ Tempranillo is perfumed and juicy with well-integrated tannins, backing up Stephen’s belief that Iberian grape varieties are ideally suited to McLaren Vale. ‘The Vale’ is an old-vine Grenache/Shiraz blend made from over 70-year-old vines, with rich black fruits on the palate and a silky texture. Like all of Stephen’s wines, the ‘Field Street’ Shiraz is made with minimal intervention and therefore faithfully expresses the purity and breadth of McLaren Vale Shiraz. The ‘FiFi’ Fiano, named after Stephen’s wife, is as exciting as it is delicious. It has a beautiful textural quality, with aromas and flavours of white nectarine, pink grapefruit, lemongrass and honeysuckle.

The ‘Smart’ Clarendon Grenache hails from McLaren Vale’s highest Grenache vineyard (230 metres above sea level), planted on its oldest soils (up to 750 million years old). Here, the dry-grown bush vines produce a richly perfumed, elegant wine with ripe red berry freshness, violets and grainy tannins. This is a beautiful counterpoint to the more powerful, structured, juicy dark fruits and savoury character of the ‘Old McDonald’ McLaren Vale Grenache from Blewitt Springs. Both wines show Grenache’s great potential for site expression in McLaren Vale and, says Stephen, “its place in the line-up of the world’s great varietal wines.”

Vineyards

The Grenache vineyards are on deep sand with a north-westerly exposure and are simply managed, without pesticides, to ensure the optimal expression of the fruit. Vines are over 70 years old. The Shiraz is from Blewitt Springs vineyard that is 40 years old and lies on very similar soils to the Grenache. Deep sandy soils encourage a larger root system, which safeguards the vine against extreme weather conditions. The Touriga fruit is sourced from a nine-year old block in Langhorne Creek.

Vintage

As one might expect, a vintage during a pandemic could only be described as problematic. A dry start to the season, and extreme heat during flowering lead to anxiety around potential yields. The heaviness brought by wild fires and the devastation they bring weighed into this vintage. Thankfully, the days got cooler sooner than anticipated which allowed for long even ripening, which developed lovely aromatic grapes. 2020 will certainly be a vintage to remember.

Vinification

The Grenache and Shiraz grapes were picked in late February, crushed and co-fermented, spending 10 days on skins before gentle pressing. The Grenache-Shiraz blend was sent to French oak puncheon for Maloactic fermentation before maturation in stainless steel vats. The Touriga was picked in early April, crushed, and fermented in stainless steel with daily pump overs before pressing after 10 days on skins, and sent to puncheon for malolactic fermentation and maturation. The final blend was decided in late February 2021 and settled in stainless steel vats for a further 3 months.The wine was bottled early June 2021 without fining or filtration.

Tasting Notes & Technical Details

A vibrant and fruit-driven wine. Notes of raspberry bon bons, cherry, blueberry and dark chocolate are wrapped in panettone aromas provided by the Touriga. On the palate, this wine has a silky texture and is medium-bodied with racy acidity. The complex aromas follow right through to the long finish.

Alcohol (ABV)

13.5%

Acidity

6 g/l

pH

3.49

Other wines from this producer

Producer
Wine
Product Code
Features
Style
S.C. Pannell`The Vale` McLaren Vale Grenache/ShirazSP102
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
Factsheet
`Smart Vineyard` Clarendon GrenacheSP103
R
Red
Adelaide Hills NebbioloSP105
R
Red
Factsheet
`Old McDonald` Blewitt Springs McLaren Vale GrenacheSP109
Vegetarian
Vegan
Practising Organic
R
Red
Factsheet
Adelaide Tempranillo/TourigaSP110
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
Factsheet
Adelaide Hills SyrahSP116
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
Factsheet
`Dead End` McLaren Vale TempranilloSP118
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
`Field Street` McLaren Vale ShirazSP119
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
Factsheet
`Basso` McLaren Vale GarnachaSP120
R
Red
Factsheet
`Fi Fi` McLaren Vale FianoSP126
W
White
Factsheet