Posts Tagged ‘shiraz’

Suffield Wines – Eden Valley

On our recent trip to McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills, Eden Valley, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley we had the pleasure of stumbling across the cellar door of Suffield Wines. Getting there wasn’t by design, it was a matter of taking a wrong turn down a road and pulling into the first winery we saw.

The story of Suffield Wines is much the same story as how we stumbled upon it. With no experience of winemaking or vineyards, Nick and Lyne bought the vineyard in 1998. At the time they were living in the US managing their businesses and bought the cute little farmhouse and vineyard with the goal of taking things easy. That never happened, but spending a short amount of time with Nick, that’s no surprise – he has an insatiable passion for everything and anything he mentions.

The house was run down, with dirt floors, no bathroom and in desparate need of attention. The vines too were in a similar state, left to their own devices for god knows how long. The house was run-down and the state of the vineyards were no better. The exact years of planting aren’t really available, but they estimate that the Shiraz and Riesling are around 80 years old. Neither of these have ever seen much irrigation, so they have deep root structures and a consistent harvest. Turns out the age and establishment of the vines were their saving grace, and with a bit of well placed pruning, some active maintenance and a lot of hard work they are seeing better days.

At the time the Suffield’s bought the vineyard, most of the fruit was sold by contract to Henschke. Since then, the have continued the contract selling but have started making an increasing amount of their own wines. Using a combination of minimal intervention in the wine making, the help of a contract wine maker, and great fruit the wines Suffield is producing are not only sensational but also great value.

The earlier vintages of Shiraz were heavy-handed and off balance, but age has treated them well and they are well priced. The newer vintages have been made with a far subtler hand and will mature into some crackers. The older Rieslings have the roundness which I love in older Riesling and the later vintages have fantastic acidity, almost to a fault. The 2010 vintage was bone dry, all citrus and acid and lacking in complexity – this Jim told us is the style that all Eden Valley Riesling are moving towards. Personally, I like a touch of residual sugar, it plays well with the acidity and lifts it.

McLaren Vale

A day in McLaren Vale. For the Shiraz fiend, that may sound like heaven. But quite frankly, I’m just not that in to it. I love a good Rhone style shiraz, but the general style of Australian shiraz just isn’t to my liking. But as I’ve learnt many times, a trip to a wine region is almost never about that region’s flagship wine. It’s about the gems you find on the edges of the wine lists. Things like Sangiovese, GSM and Nebbiolo that perhaps aren’t available widely, but given the chance you will fall in love with.

McLaren Vale was no different. The standout was Grenache followed closely by Sangiovese (which inexplicably isn’t very widely produced in McLaren Vale.) Grenache is one of the most widely grown grapes in McLaren Vale (rivalled only by Shiraz.) It was introduced in the 19th century and was generally used in fortifieds. Today however it is being used to produce still wines, either by itself or blended with Shiraz and the results are terrific. It has an almost delicate spiciness and a refined richness with a fine not overbearing structure. It is interesting in that it is a “big” wine, yet doesn’t tend to overpower your palate.

And the growers of McLaren Vale obviously know they are onto something with their Grenache as they have a scheme wherein producers can showcase their Grenache based wines through a special brand, Cadenzia. I’m not entirely sure of the specifics, but someone mentioned they have to be deemed to be of a certain quality and be majority Grenache based.

Kangarilla Road

If Grenache was the winning wine of the day, Kangarilla Road was the winning winery. It’s a fresh, modern winery with a great lineup of wines. The custom built cellar door itself lacks the heritage of many of the other cellar doors in the region, but what it lacks in character it makes up with it’s spacious interior and tasteful appointments.

The catalogue of wines is slightly off center. While it produces the requisite Grenache and Shiraz it also has plantings of Primitivo and Zinfandel. These wines are really well suited to the region and both wines show a unique rich character.

My favourite Kangarilla Road wine however was the Sangiovese. In comparison to the usual style of Sangio in Australia this is a different take. A darker browner colour in the glass, a stronger structure and a darker flavour profile might take this away from a traditional style, but I believe it plays into the the hand of the region perfectly.

Kay Brothers

If Kangarilla Road is new, fresh and modern then Kay Brothers is slightly dated. With an aging cellar door and retro labels the winery isn’t going to win any design awards. Though that surely is the furthest thing from their minds. The cellar door features an amazing section, “100 years today” featuring the diaries of the owners of the properties 100 years ago. The page I read featured some amazing tidbits, things like: Shot birds (10). Painted door. Looking back 100 years, the mundane seems almost exciting.

Don’t get me wrong though, in this case, it’s far from a bad thing. Kay Brothers is one of the few producers of wine in McLaren Vale who have been making wine since before federation, so I suppose they are allowed a bit of leyway.

Not that they need it, the wines do all the talking. The Shiraz (I tasted 06, 07, 08) is tightly wound and ready to ooze out over a good 10 years in the cellar. The 2008 was the most open of the 3, fruit driven yet not a hint of over-ripeness.

It is also worth mentioning the Moscato. Classic grapiness, clean and refreshing. According to the cellar door staff, it’s best served with gin and lime.


Coriole bills itself as an italian varietal specialist, but confusingly only has 3 italian (and about 6 regular) varieties available for tasting at the cellar door. Luckily for us, there was a Barbera and a Nebbiolo open. For mine, the Sangiovese was a little thin, lacking enough structure to make it interesting. The Barbera on the other hand was well balanced, juggling structure and savoury notes beautifully.

Coriole also has a cafe attached to it and although it was closed for the day, the courtyard and decks are amazing, decked in dappled sunlight they invite you to lie down and enjoy the day.

Olivers Taranga

Tucked away in a valley on what seems to be the edge of the Vale, Olivers Taranga is a family owned winery that does so many things right. The cellar door is in a heritage listed cottage with a small, tasteful family history section they serve pizzas on the weekend and the wine tasting experience is perfect. Professional and friendly, with a good range of wines and a very casual, no worries attitude.

While all of the wines were well made and considered, the 2 hightlights were the Tempranillo and “The Banished” Fortified Grenache. The Tempranillo is a beautiful wine, balanced and well structured without taking itself too seriously.