Vintage: 2023

VintageProduct CodeFormatClosureAvailability
2023SP126A2312 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

Fruit was sourced from Block 10 Oliver's Vineyard in McLaren Vale. The grapes are grown by neighbours of Stephen and Fiona, the Oliver family, at their vineyard on Oliver's Road in McLaren Vale. The ten-year-old vines are set on a sheltered east-facing slope growing in sandy loam over clay. As one of Italy’s oldest cultivars, Fiano is at home in Campania, Basilicata and Sardinia. The proximity to the coast and warm dry summers of these regions bear a striking similarity to McLaren Vale, and the Olivers' site is perfectly suited to growing this Mediterranean white variety.

Vintage

The third year of the current La Nina cycle was cool and wet, making for a challenging growing season. High winter rainfall continued through spring, delaying budburst and shoot growth. Thankfully a dry, mild summer followed, but the die was cast and harvest was one of the latest on record. Low crops with long hang times are not common, however these contrasting conditions did result in elegance and great flavour in the wines. A year that relied on attention to detail in the vineyard to make great wine.

Vinification

The fruit was harvested on 20th March, the latest that Fiano has ever been picked. Settled as cold juice for 10 days, 80% of the wine was then fermented in oak vats and puncheons, with the remaining 20% fermented in stainless steel. The oak portion was kept in oak for a further 8 weeks maturation prior to blending and bottling in late July.

Tasting Notes & Technical Details

On the nose the wine opens wtih white nectarine, jasmine tea and elderflower notes, with more exotic aromas developing in the glass, including lemongrass, galangal and honeysuckle. On the palate the wine is intense with waves of flavour. It is a wine with great poise and length.

Alcohol (ABV)

13%

Acidity

5.8 g/l

pH

3.42

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
`Basso` McLaren Vale GarnachaSP120
R
Red
Factsheet