Tag Archives: McLaren Vale

Hickingbotham – Clarendon Vineyard

10th June 2015

The Clarendon vineyard in McLaren Vale has contributed to some of Australia’s great wines, including the likes of Grange, as well as supplying Clarendon Hills winery. Planted in 1971, the plantings focus on Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

I was therefore surprised to hear that a few years ago, the vineyard was sold to the Jackson Family Estate. The company owns a number of wineries across the globe including some cult wineries in the Napa Valley. They also have Yangarra amongst their stable of wineries.

2012 was the first vintage under their control and Charlie Seppelt was appointed winemaker to oversee the operation. Charlie was given the daunting task of establishing a winery, complete with an oak regime to produce high quality wines from the outset.

Having just looked at the first releases, the early results look very promising. Though the wines could not be considered cheap, the pricing does, however, reflect the value of this special vineyard.

Reviewed2012 Hickinbotham Brooks Road Shiraz

Hickingbotham – Shiraz – Brooks Road – 2012. Classic McLaren Vale Shiraz that shows bright, fresh and pretty berry fruit characters. The palate has dense black fruit, but none of the candied characters that are common in the Vale. The finish is silky and refined, with a core of minerality. The oak (30% new) has been soaked up by the fruit, so as not to appear disjointed. Opens up and gets quite chewy and textured, with licorice and spice to close.

Hickingbotham – Cabernet Sauvignon – Trueman – 2012. Cassis and mint on the nose, though the fruit is quite muted at this point. Closed, tight and refined, the palate has remarkably fine, though persistent tannins. Finishes with chalk-like minerality with graphite and olive characters. This is the opposite of what I would expect from a warmer climate Cabernet. According to the winemaker, the Hickingbotham vineyard produces some of Australia’s most tannic Cabernet.

Hickingbotham – Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz – Peake – 2012. Surprisingly, this is more floral and fragrant than either of the straight wines. The palate has a savoury edge, with the quality fruit balanced by fine tannins. With air, the mineral-like texture really builds, the fruit coating the mouth and persisting for what seems like minutes. This needs years to reach its peak, but the wait will be worthwhile. 1200 bottles made.

Shiraz – New Release

Reviewed: 30th March 2014

Whilst I have no direct control over the wines that are submitted to the panel for tasting, the wines on display for this tasting were very impressive in general.  The wines came from some well known labels, as well as several that are new to me.


Henschke – Shiraz – Mount Edelstone – 2009 (18.5).  The silky elegance and balance came as a surprise here after some of the more robust wines tasted.  This is elegant, refined, long, supple and deliciously seamless.  Whilst everything is in place to age, this is great now thanks to the delicate fruit and fine tannin/oak balance.  A superior wine that will take 15 years + in the cellar.

Yalumba – Shiraz – Octavius – 2008 (18.5).  Lovely mint and herbal notes initially here.  There is, however, a core of dense, powerful fruit that starts to show with air.  The palate is silky and fine yet, again, the latent power is palpable.  The fruit flavours tend to red berries.  Chewy tannins and oak close down the fruit, but these are not intrusive or out of balance.  Develops licorice and spice with air.  Whilst the oak treatment is evident, it is in no way intrusive, sitting nicely with the high quality fruit.  Deserves its reputation. (RRP $110).

The Yard – Shiraz – Justin Vineyard – 2012. (18).  Great fruit and winemaking, yet the acid here is just a little fresh initially.  Opens to show plum and blackberry flavours with spice and hints of oak.  Very long and textured, this is a wine for the patient.  The next day, this was even better with delicious dark fruits that coat the tongue melding with very fine tannins on a near seamless finish.  (RRP $35).

Cross Stitch – Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon – 2012 (18).  I like this a lot.  Ripe red fruit with excellent balance.  The palate is silky and fine, with the gentle tannins complementing the fruit perfectly.  Really long, this is an elegant wine of considerable charm.  Good now or in five years.  (The points here are for the sheer drinkability). (RRP $22).

Willoughby Park – Shiraz – 2010 (17.9).  A dense wine full of licorice, spice and black pepper.  The finish is almost a touch awkward now, but is long and balanced.  Quality oak and fine tannins marry well with the fruit on the finish.  Opens to show sweet, ripe fruit that is seductive and delicious, with a lovely finish.  From the Great Southern. (RRP $22).

Izway – Shiraz – Rob & Les – 2012 (17.8).  This is a cracker of a wine, with a delicious mouthful of ripe plum fruit, yet with just enough structure to make the balance spot on.  This is juicy, ripe and totally delicious.  Not as “serious” as some here, but a great drink right now.  (RRP $30).

Sandalford – Shiraz – Estate Reserve – 2011 (17.8).  Closed, dense and powerful, this wine stands out for its quality fruit and winemaking.  Whilst it has lovely ripe fruit, it is refined, and initially quite subdued.  On the palate, the fine tannins shut down the finish though the length and texture are excellent.  With plenty of air, the lovely spicy fruit came to the fore.  A wine for the future.

Shingleback – Shiraz – The Davey Estate – 2011 (17.5 – 18).  Dense, taut and somewhat unyielding.  Hints of spice (clove and star anise).  The palate is firm, with fresh acidity, yet there are silky/refined tannins and oak and plenty of fine, white pepper to close.  This is an elegant, yet powerful wine that has potential.  Reflects the year with restrained, cooler climate fruit characters.  (RRP $23).

Crooked Brook – Shiraz – 2011 (17.5).  Ripe plum-like characters initially, yet with a core of elegant red fruits.  The palate has lovely mouth-feel and weight, and there is a lick of licorice that runs to the back of the palate.  Long and juicy, with fine tannins that frame the fruit.  Excellent drinking.

Rosemount – Shiraz – Diamond Label – 2012 (17.3).  Silky, dense, ripe and balanced.  This has souring plum-like fruit, with cedar and spicy notes.  The finish is plump and textured, with a touch of chocolate and coffee to close.  Not that dense or complicated, but a good drink.


S.C. Pannell – Current Release

Reviewed:  28th September 2013

When Bill Pannell first established Moss Wood in the early 1970’s I am sure that not even he could predict the impact his family would have on the Australian wine industry.  After entrenching Moss Wood’s reputation, Bill went on to establish Picardy winery in Pemberton where he and his son Dan are producing world class wines.

Whilst Bill and Dan are household names in Western Australia, the fortunes of another Pannell winemaker are somewhat overlooked.  Steve Pannell (Bill’s son) was instrumental in producing some of the great wines of Hardy’s, where he was chief winemaker from 1999 – 2003.

S.C. Pannell was established in 2004 and produces an array of both Red and White wines.  These range in style from softer, more approachable (and affordable) wines to the serious and age-worthy.  Time prevented me from reviewing their white wines, so these will have to wait for another day and, perhaps, a trip to McLaren Vale.

The current release wines served to underscore the quality of the operation, with the 2011 reds demonstrating just how good wines from this vintage can be.

NB:  This was not a blind tasting.  My points are best used as a guide only.


S.C. Pannell – Grenache Blend – Tinto – 2011 (16.8).  This has a lovely, bright red colour that seems the perfect match to the floral fruit notes on the nose.  There is bright fruit on a palate that has cherry and hints of tar and spice.  Simple, easy to drink and food friendly.

S.C. Pannell – Tempranilo\Touriga – 2012 (17.3).  I like this a lot!  There is plenty of dense, ripe fruit that is succulent and deliciously juicy.  Long and sappy acid on the finish adds life.  Really good wine that would be a great mid-week wine served with a bowl of pasta.

S.C. Pannell – Shiraz – Adelaide Hills – Syrah – 2012 (17.7).  Spectacular red/purple colour.  Dense, tannic, ripe, chewy, long, lean, angular.  A wine of real potential, with lovely peppery fruit to close.  Fine, silky tannins are firm and plentiful.  A textural treat.

S.C. Pannell – Grenache/Shiraz – 2010 (17.7).  Gorgeous, fragrant and lifted red berry fruit on the nose, courtesy of the grenache.  The palate is flooded with redcurrant and spice, with silky, texturing oak and tannins.  Long and savoury, this will be best in 5 – 10 years, once it has had time to open up and evolve.

S.C. Pannell – Nebbiolo – 2008 (18).  The colour alone stands this apart from the rest of the range, tending to rusty orange at the rim.  A superb rendition of nebbiolo that is true to its Italian heritage, with hints of floral fruit and tar-like characters building on the finish.

S.C. Pannell – Grenache – 2011 (18).  The colour is fantastic.  There is ripe, perfumed fruit, though this is subdued and cloaked in structure.  The palate is powerful, ripe, and precise.  The tannins are silky and fine, while the oak is there primarily for texture.  Excellent length and mouth-feel.  This is a superb effort.

S.C. Pannell – Shiraz – 2011 (18.5).  Remarkably restrained and tight.  There is a density to the fruit on the nose, with the McLaren Vale fruit characters developing in the glass with air.  The palate is restrained and near seamless, with great precision and focus.  Again, the latent power starts to express itself as the wine opens in the glass and on the palate.  Near seamless, this is a wine that can be consumed now or any time to 2030.


Teusner – New Release

Mick And Kym

Reviewed: 22nd September 2013

I caught up briefly with winemaker Kim Teusner (pictured right) and viticulturalist Michael Page (left) to look through their range of wines to coincide with the release of the 2012 reds.

Teusner is a relatively new label, having released its first vintage of Joshua in 2002.  Since then, the team has been able to secure access to several old vineyards, and are producing high quality wines in a variety of styles and price points.

For me, the highlight of the tasting was The Family shiraz.  The fruit for this came from a single vineyard in the Stonewell sub-region of the Barossa and is chock full of Barossa goodness.  Whist this only has limited availability, it is worth tracking down as it really delivers on the price/quality scale.



Teusner – Riesling – 2012 (17.5).  Typical Eden Valley style that is closed and restrained, with an oily minerality that adds interest.  The palate has lemony fruit and is well balanced.  While quite lean now, this has good mouth-feel and will fill out with a few years in the bottle.

Teusner – Sauvignon Blanc – Woodside – 2013 (17).  Lifted sherbet and lemon aromas with a nice zesty lift.  A balanced wine that avoids the pungency that some cool climate versions can get, yet retains a zesty freshness that defines the style.

Teusner – Shiraz – The Riebke – 2012 (17 – 17.5).  Delicious, ripe, red fruits here.  The palate is juicy, succulent and more-ish.  There is little in the way of oak on show, which allows the cherry, plum and redcurrant fruit to shine.  Now – 5 years.

Teusner – Shiraz – The Family – 2012 (18).  Compared to the Riebke, this has more depth, intensity and power, with cedary oak in the background.  The palate is structured, with some grip to close, courtesy of the oak and fruit tannins.  There is real depth, intensity and length to the superb fruit.  At $25, this is a bargain!

Teusner – GSM – Avatar – 2012. (N/A).

Teusner – Grenache/Mouvedre/Shiraz – Joshua – 2012 (18).  Really fragrant and spicy on the nose (fennel and thyme), while the palate is silky and supple.  This is deceptive as, whilst it is a lovely drink now, it has the power and structure to build and age with time.  The fragrant grenache fruit is the main feature, while the mouvedre and shiraz add structure and a peppery lift.

Teusner – Shiraz – Righteous FG – 2010 (18.5+).  Incredibly concentrated and essence-like.  The nose is an amalgam of superbly dense fruit and quality oak.  Despite being amazingly concentrated, the palate is supple and silky, with a degree of elegance on the finish.  The tannins are very fine and the length prodigious.  An amazing wine that is full of latent power.  Will live long!