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Re-discovering McLaren Vale

Not long ago Australia was the king of the export world, led by homogeneous “Critter” wines and a “bigger is always better” attitude that would make even a native of Texas proud.  Sadly (for the large commercial producers) drought, over-production, and consumer fatigue led to an enormous drop in popularity for Australian wine in the US.  When one door closes, however, another frequently opens, and Australia has begun to rediscover its roots as producers of fine wines.

McClaren Vale has long been known as one of Australia’s finest wine regions and is filled with mainly small, boutique producers that largely farm sustainably—often biodynamically.  Shiraz is the grape of choice here where the Mediterranean climate (tempered by the Gulf of St Vincent), limited rainfall and thin, well draining soils curtail the Shiraz natural vigor to produce fruit clusters with very small berries.  The resulting wines frequently have a high concentration of color and flavor but maintain a higher natural acidity than much of the wine produced in other notable regions, such as the extremely hot Barossa.

A great example of McLaren Vale Shiraz is Gemtree Wines “Uncut” (alluding to an uncut gem in its raw form), which is biodynamically farmed, unfiltered, and unfined.  Left to age in French oak puncheons and barrique for sixteen months, this wine is ready to consume now with a bit of decanting, but will last in the cellar for a decade.

Grab a bottle to enjoy with that big Texas Ribeye this summer!