In the early 1980s, McLaren Vale was home to more small, family-owned and run wineries than any other region of Australia. While it no longer holds that record, its gently rolling hills, short-drive access from Adelaide’s CBD, even shorter drive to the beaches running north to south close to the western boundary of McLaren Vale, and the profusion of restaurants make it a must-go destination (once its premier decides to open South Australia’s borders).
Its dauntingly complex geology is easy to understand if you say the sandy soils of Blewitt Springs are the most accommodating of all types, the black or red limestone-impregnated soils similar to Coonawarra next, and there are no keep-away soils if you match variety and location.
It is Australia’s best location for grenache, and over the years has produced many worthy cabernets (thanks in part to the water-cooled climate), leaving shiraz (18,114 tonnes*) with over 60 per cent of the crush, ten times that of grenache (1870 tonnes*). You then have the Spanish/Italian/Mediterranean mix of alternative varieties barbera, mencia, nero d’Avola, tempranillo and nebbiolo, featured in the selection below.
* 2019 figures
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