McLaren Vale in South Australia has invested more time mapping its soils than most wine regions in Australia and with good reason, as the intricate geological story of its vineyards dates back hundreds of millions of years.
Many McLaren Vale wineries have done their best to showcase this narrative via their wines, but none quite so successfully as Hugh Hamilton has with its Black Blood Shiraz trio – the interest of all three recognised by James Halliday with a clean sweep of 95-point scores in the just-released Halliday Wine Companion guide.
The Black Blood I, II and III are all given the same treatment in the winery, and yet a sampling of each will prove it to be distinct from the others, showing the power that place can have over a wine.
The three wines are from separate Hugh Hamilton sites and the differences those produce is striking. From the Cellar, the Church and the Black Sheep vineyards respectively, Mary Hamilton, daughter of Hugh Hamilton, says the Black Blood wines, “smell and taste like the characteristics of the three distinct soil types and McLaren Vale sub-regions they hail from”. If you want a practical understanding of the French concept terroir, picking up this trio of wines and trying them at home promises to be an enlightening experience. “The three Black Blood shiraz wines are the most convincing trio linking different vineyard soils and the wine in the glass,” James Halliday says.
Hugh Hamilton is a family winery with more than 180 years of winemaking history, but it’s constantly pushing the envelope with its wines. The Black Blood Shiraz trio is just one of its ‘out of the box’ experiments, playing around with unusual blending combinations, as well as being one of the few wineries in Australia to champion the Georgian variety saperavi. “I’ve always been intrigued by the quirky and the rare. These are wines no-one else will ever see,” Hugh Hamilton says.
Learn more about the Black Blood trio, or join the Black Sheep Club for a first look at other fascinating, limited-release, McLaren Vale wines designed to make you think.