Vintage: 2020

VintageProduct CodeFormatClosureAvailability
2020SP118A2012 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 Tempranillo is largely sourced from the De Lisio Vineyard in McLaren Flat, where the vines are over 20 years old. This vineyard is planted on alluvial fan clay, sand and gravel at approximately 50 metres above sea level and the quality of the grapes gave winemaker Stephen Pannell faith to plant more of this variety at his own Amery Road vineyard. This vintage now also contains fruit from Koomilya young vines, which were planted in 2014 on dark grey, very thinly lamintaed, salty siltstone at 100 metres above sea level. Tempranillo is ideally suited to McLaren Vale's climate and this wine is a perfect example of what is possible.

Vintage

A vintage taking place in the middle of a pandemic can be best described as problematic. The season had a very dry start, with lower than expected winter and spring rainfall. A day of intense heat during flowering, following this dry period, resulted in early anxiety around potential yields. Fires and devastation struck the region in December, causing stress and destruction to many vineyards. Thankfully, the days got cooler earlier than anticipated allowing for long and even ripening.

Vinification

The Dead End Tempranillo is made from 100% Tempranillo. Picked on the 6th of March, the grapes were crushed and fermented with 10 days on skins. The Koomilya grapes were picked on the 20th of March and spent 11 days on their skins. Both parcels were handled separately in the cellar until final blending. The wine was aged for nine months in French oak puncheons and bottled in February 2021.

Tasting Notes & Technical Details

This wine is highly perfumed with powerful notes of cherry and dark chocolate with hints of sweet cola and sandalwood. Floral notes of rose and lavender add a delicate touch. On the palate, this wine is juicy with well-integrated grippy tannins that fill the mouth and lead to a rich and spicy finish.

Alcohol (ABV)

14%

Acidity

5.1 g/l

pH

3.82

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
McLaren Vale Grenache/Shiraz/TourigaSP115
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
Adelaide Hills SyrahSP116
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
Factsheet
`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