“96 points. The bouquet is full of flowers, spices and forest berries, with the beautifully balanced and shaped palate taking the wine to another level with its seamless flow of red fruits.” James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion
Chapel Hill have been supplying outstanding wines to AWC members for over 30 years. Pam Dunsford produced a string of award-winning wines through the 1990s and now Michael Fragos has followed her with a string of terrific releases, including his 2020 MV Bush Vine Grenache.
McLaren Vale is home to some of the oldest Grenache vines in the world, dating back to the 1840s and 1850s. It was one of the first grape varieties to be introduced to Australia in 1832, as part of the Busby Collection of vines from Europe. It was especially popular in South Australia, where it thrived in the hot and dry climate. McLaren Vale, with its proximity to the sea and its resulting Mediterranean climate, became one of the prime areas for grenache cultivation.
Up until the 1960s, Grenache was mainly used for making fortified wines, which were the dominant style of wine in Australia up till then. As consumer preferences shifted towards table wines, grenache declined in popularity and was often replaced by shiraz or cabernet sauvignon.
Many of the region’s old vineyards have survived the changing wine fads . These gnarly bush vines produce low yields of concentrated and complex grapes, which having survived the “fortified wine era”, were mainly used by blending with other varieties.
However, in the last decade or so, Grenache has experienced a renaissance in Australia, especially in McLaren Vale. Winemakers have rediscovered the potential of this variety and have started to make more expressive and diverse styles of grenache, from vibrant and juicy to rich and structured.
The predominant parcel of grapes that features in this wine is sourced from vines that were planted back in 1926. The resultant berries from these bush vines are extremely small and develop thick skins that are crammed full of complex flavours, deep colour and textured tannin.
Chapel Hill MV Bush Vine Grenache 2020 14.0% 6x75cl £132.00
A nose of exotically spiced fruit and perfumed flowers draws you in, then the light, sweet, red fruit excitement takes over. There are flavours of strawberries, black cherries, and raspberries, with hints of cinnamon and anise, layers and depth are there as well.
With its earthy textures, spicy undertones and perfumed flavours, this wine perfectly captures the spirit and history of McLaren Vale’s grape growing and winemaking heritage. It is the epitome of modern Australian Grenache. The irony is that this modern style has been produced from such ancient vines.
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