Meet the winemaker

Why Spanish reds are worth a closer look

6 Sep, 2019

If you're yet to explore Spanish styles of red wine, you're in for a treat. Think fresh, bright and moreish wines that demand to be served with your favourite full-flavoured foods.  

We ask three producers from South Australia's McLaren Vale to explain their distinctive styles of Spanish reds, each making a compelling case for seeking out these wines.     

Hither & Yon

Hither & Yon, McLaren Vale, SA
Brothers Malcolm and Richard Leask (above) are behind this operation, having taken over the vineyards their parents established in the 1970s. Today, Hither & Yon produces an exciting range of wines, with a keen focus on sustainability. 

Q. What makes you so committed to these styles of wine?
It's all about their suitability to our environment and our bid to create easy-drinking wines for our relaxed lifestyle. We are focused on vineyard and varietal expression, and Spanish grape varieties have so much character. They are delicious to taste off the vine, so we take a gentle and rustic approach to our winemaking – all fresh fruit, natural tannin and acid, and limited oak. 

Q. How do you explain Spanish reds to people who are yet to explore them?
They have flair and punch, fresh fruit and spices, but also earth and a bit of funk, showing some Old World character, but with a cool McLaren Vale maritime edge. Pass the pizza! With our wines, as our vines have matured, they have developed more depth and texture, but we still aim to pick early for bright fruit and elegance, and to also retain medium-bodied freshness. This means our wines are great for food as well as for ageing.      

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Hedonist Wines

Hedonist Wines, McLaren Vale, SA 
It's a dynamic trio that creates the wines at this winery, with Walter Clappis working together with daughter Kimberly and her partner James Cooter. The team works with certified biodynamic vineyards, and the wines are known for their purity of fruit. 

Q. What do you love most about Spanish reds?      
A. We love the palate weight, structure and kick of tempranillo. It's a perfect wine to accompany an array of food, from tapas to pizza and smoked meats. For us, we make our tempranillo fresh and drinkable while young. It has a rush of primary fruits and savoury notes with little external interference, allowing the vineyard to speak through the wine in the glass.

Q. In what ways have your Spanish reds evolved over the years?
A. We've refined our style over the past 10 years or so to create a much lighter, younger drinking style, with little oak or maturation time to keep it as fresh as possible. It means our tempranillo has a vibrancy and freshness, and it is more structured and has a distinct line of acidity than more widely consumed Australian varieties, such as shiraz. 

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Big Easy Radio

Big Easy Radio, McLaren Vale, SA 
Take one look at the website for this winery and it's clear they are doing things differently. Winemaker Matt Head and the team are turning out some exciting wines, with each bottle's label as striking as what's inside. 

Q. Where does your passion for Spanish reds come from? 
We like to make wines that represent where we live and McLaren Vale is a true Mediterranean environment. As such, varieties like tempranillo, grenache and mataro thrive here. Making wines that suit our cuisine is also important, and the beauty of Spanish varieties is that they are naturally medium-bodied, so a perfect match for our ethos and way of life.   

Q. How do you approach the winemaking when it comes to these styles? 
The making of Spanish varieties is not unlike making any other style of red wine. We always start with the highest quality of grapes and manage them with a gentle approach. Our fermentation practices are traditional with minimal extraction and cooler temperatures to retain fruit flavours and wine integrity. We do, however, tailor our oak profiles to suit the wine style, and so minimise the risk of oak dominance in these styles. 

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*This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.