Vintage: 2020

VintageProduct CodeFormatClosureAvailability
2020SP120A2012 x 75ScrewcapAvailable
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 idea for an early release, low sulphur, unfiltered Grenache had been bubbling away for a few years. Finally, in 2017, access to fruit from the right vineyard in Blewitt Springs: dry grown and pruned to single-bud spurs, sparked the Basso project in to life. The vineyard, planted in the late 1970s, lies at 80 metres above sea level on sandy loams over clays. From the Latin Bassus, meaning low, Basso is low in additions and speaks clearly of the place from which it comes.

Vintage

A dry start to the season, with lower than expected winter and spring rainfall, followed by a day of intense heat right on flowering led to some early anxiety around yields. Fires struck parts of South Australia around Christmas, but fortunately this part of McLaren Vale was not affected. The days became cooler sooner than anticipated, allowing for long and even ripening.

Vinification

The grapes were hand picked at 13.7 Baume. Fermentation took place in open top fermenters with daily pump overs. The grapes spent 10 days on skins before gentle pressing. After undergoing malolactic fermentation, the wine was aged for ten months in large, old French oak vats. The wine was racked twice before bottling, without filtration, on the 8th of February 2021.

Tasting Notes & Technical Details

Raspberry liqueur, red apple skin, dark spice and cinnamon make for a vibrant, seductive perfume. The palate follows through with fresh blue and red berry fruit. Youthful and medium bodied, with super fine tea-like tannins that carry red fruits on the finish.

Alcohol (ABV)

14%

Acidity

5 g/l

pH

3.54

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
`Dead End` McLaren Vale TempranilloSP118
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
`Field Street` McLaren Vale ShirazSP119
Vegetarian
Vegan
R
Red
Factsheet
`Fi Fi` McLaren Vale FianoSP126
W
White
Factsheet