About The Pack
McLaren Vale is in the midst of a purple patch.
Over the last decade, the region has reinvented itself - shifting away from the straight up-and-down hulking Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet - and exploring a more diverse array of varieties and wine styles.
Here are six outright delicious reds which showcase some of the interesting things happening in the region: from interesting blends to new varieties and fresher examples of stalwart regional grapes.
Six great producers here and six great bottles of red for any occasion.
2017 Bondar Wines Violet Hour Shiraz
The name 'Violet Hour' refers to the fading light owners Andre Bondar and Selina Kelly saw on the horizon as they picked the last bunches of Shiraz for their first ever release, the 2012 edition of this wine. A violet sky, a beautiful wine, and a new future ahead for the couple and their vines.
The Violet hour tastes as stylish as it looks, it hits that sweet-spot for all red wine lovers - a combination of elegance and power.
The pedigree of the McLaren Vale vineyard is second to none - it's one of the most respected sites in McLaren Vale where Seaview and Blewitt Springs meet. You get the lively, bright blue fruits of the sandy soils of Blewitt Springs with the power and structure of the Seaview terroir. It's a winning combination. The quality of the Shiraz speaks for itself.
Put simply, if you like McLaren Vale Shiraz with a fresh face - this is a must buy.
97 points - James HallidayRead more about 2017 Bondar Wines Violet Hour Shiraz
2018 Aphelion The Confluence Grenache
Crafting McLaren Vale Grenache is the main game for Rob Mack and Louise Rhodes at Aphelion. It's a game they are very skilled at. Every egg a bird, as they say.
Sourced predominantly from gnarly, 80-year-old bush vines rooted in the sandy soils of Blewitt Springs, this fresh and vital version of Grenache is set decidedly to a "Drink-Me-Now" tempo. It's the composite blend of the three Aphelion Grenaches, combining both the 100% whole berry and 100% whole bunch wines into one seamless wine.
There's tension and beauty in this release, which is to say, it's McLaren Vale Grenache at its most irresistible. The 2018 gave Rob fruit with high toned aromatics and silky texture. It's right on the money as a modern example of McLaren Vale Grenache.Read more about 2018 Aphelion The Confluence Grenache
2016 Brash Higgins NDV Nero D'Avola
The NDV is considered by many to be the premier Nero d'Avola in Australia. With a string of sensational releases under his belt, Brad Hickey has elevated this humble Sicilian variety to a new level in Australia over the years since his first release.
Hickey makes his Nero in an authentic, Sicilian style - full of spice, tannin and energy. It's naturally fermented with wild yeasts in a bees-wax lined clay amphora. The constant search for freshness, drive and detail in this oft-times simple and smashable variety is what sets the Brash Higgins NDV apart.
It's a unique and slightly wild-eyed wine, but one that has become something of a benchmark for the variety.
Absolutely worth trying if you are being enchanted by the rise of Italian varieties on Australian shores!Read more about 2016 Brash Higgins NDV Nero D'Avola
2018 Yangarra Estate Noir
This top value red is just the latest step on winemaker Peter Fraser's march towards recreating his own McLaren Vale examples of the famous bends of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Here old vine Grenache combines with Mourvèdre, Shiraz, Cinsaut, Carignan, and a splash of Counoise into a lighter styled playful red that has more under the hood than meets the eye.
In this blend you see the perfect mix of seriousness and playfulness - it's light and crunchy on one hand, it's precise and impeccably well built on the other.
For the dollars, it's one of the most interesting and satisfying reds in the region at the moment and a super-versatile red for any occasion.Read more about 2018 Yangarra Estate Noir
2017 S.C. Pannell Grenache Shiraz Touriga
The S.C. Pannell GST has been a hugely successful wine for Steve Pannell over the last few years, winning multiple accolades across the national Wine Show circuit.
In many ways, this wine typifies Steve's philosophy on Australian red wines. The GST is about freshness and balance, a red wine that puts drinkability and versatility front and centre. All three components of the blend working in harmony.
Steve describes the 2017 as : "A Swiss army wine, drink it with everything!"
Australian red wine doesn't get more glugable than this. Fans of this wine in the past should buy with supreme confidence.Read more about 2017 S.C. Pannell Grenache Shiraz Touriga
2017 Somos Cabernet Franc
For freshness and vitality in the land of Bordeaux varieties, the modern expressions of Cabernet Franc popping up all over the country really take the cake.
This lively version of the variety comes from Somos - two young winemakers and free spirits in South Australia making wines from varieties they see as underrepresented.
This was picked and pressed early, matured in mostly old French oak, every decision along the winemaking path looking for immediate drinkability.Read more about 2017 Somos Cabernet Franc