McLaren Vale is a coastal wine region a short drive (40 minutes) south of Adelaide. Its Mediterranean climate is optimal for grape growing with warm, dry conditions during the day and a rapid cooling off at night. I don’t often quote Robert Parker, but I believe he’s bang on with this statement: “I believe what’s happening in McLaren Vale right now signals an important paradigm shift in Australian winemaking philosophy. Perhaps more so than any other GI (Geographical Indication) in Australia, this region has made huge strides towards clearly defining and differentiating itself in recent years with remarkable results that can be tasted in the wines.“
Talking to the winemakers and growers in McLaren Vale is invigorating. It’s not just same old same old. They are not only passionate about their craft, they are dynamic and experimental. You are increasingly likely to come across Italian varietals now alongside the mainstays of Grenache and Shiraz: Fiano, Vermentino, Nero d’Avola to name a few. Viticulturalists are paying attention to their soils and their underlying geography. McLaren Vale is the first Australian GI to have developed its own geology map (see below) that shows in painstaking detail what type of rock sits beneath the soil at every point. A lot of it is over one billion years old.
So what? Well, the more knowledge one possesses, the better one can make the right decisions when it comes to growing, irrigating, picking and winemaking. And they’re all showing it off in the Vale, so get to know this region, it just might surprise you.