Shiraz from The Gateway, McLaren Vale, Fleurieu Zone, South Australia, Australia
Purchased: 14 Feb 2014 – $100.00
Opened: 14 Feb 2018
Wine Spectator: 95
Tasting Panel: 95
Cellar Tracker: 93
South Australia is the largest wine region, by acres of vines planted and wine produced, in Australia. McLaren Vale, along with its northern neighbor: Barossa Valley, are the premier South Australia wine-producing regions in the country. McLaren Vale’s wine history goes back at least 175 years to the time of John Reynell and Thomas Hardy and their first grape plantings. Todays Accolade Wines traces its beginnings back to the establishment of the Thomas Hardy and Sons winery, in 1853, in Old Reynella, now a suburb of Adelaide. With its Mediterranean climate and well drained soils, McLaren Vale is known for its superb reds with Shiraz being its star pupil, accounting for 50% of all grapes grown and processed.
Australia is the second largest producer of Shiraz or its genetic French twin, Syrah, grapes, France being the first. These are dark skinned grapes that produce wildly different flavors depending on the terroir they spring from. The cooler climate versions tend towards medium bodied wines with higher tannins producing flavors and aromas of pepper and tobacco. In the hotter climates, such as McLaren Vale, the wine is fuller in body, softer in tannins with notes of leather and velvety chocolate. Ageing potential is 10-15 years.
In 2006 Sparky and Sarah Marquis established their own brand: Mollydooker, and opened their winery the next year just a few miles southwest of Adelaide and a hop, skip, and jump from the Gulf of St. Vincent in The Gateway sub-region of McLaren Vale. From the outset they have produced outstanding wines garnering high 90s ratings and wine of the year accolades, seemingly without effort. The winery includes 3 vineyards: Long Gully Road, Coppermine Road (Steve Earle’s Copperhead Road produced weed and whiskey), and the Home Blocks, totaling 114 acres planted in Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
The vines are growing in ancient Snowball Earth, Pre-Cambrian to Cambrian metasediments, usually extremely weathered and kaolinized. The metasediments include various textures from siltstones to sandstones and limestones to dolostones. The Mollydooker vineyards are situated a little over 450′ above sea level and enjoy a Mediterranean climate with growing season diurnal temperatures ranging from 55-85ºF. Rainfall is generally less than 1.25″ per month during the growing season.
The grapes are cold fermented, below 60ºF, with final fermentation occurring in oak barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked back to tanks for oxygenation. Then back to the barrel for approximately 3 months of malolactic fermentation. The final stage is to rack the wine again into different oak barrels to age some more before finding their way into the colorfully labeled bottles. Even before leaving the cellar these are well-traveled wines.
A dark, dark purple wine with a ruby rim. A bouquet of jammy berries and plums, bursting with chocolate. A very bold wine with medium tannins and acidity. Luscious silk and velvet on the tongue. A wonderful, lasting, spicy candy finish. A parenthetical aside on the alcohol content. The bottle states the ABV is 16.5% while the technical sheet states 15.5%. Either one packs a wallop.
An outstanding wine. My wife and I had this for our Valentines’ dinner at the Helix Wine and Bites restaurant in Grand Forks, ND. We started the meal off with a terrific morsel of grilled watermelon topped with a pepper spiced shrimp followed by oysters on the half shell heaped with garlic and herbs. The entrees were a medium rare rib eye and a filet of orange roughy tightly wound in herbs and spices. The wine supremely complemented both of these main dishes. We finished off the wine with a desert of berries and milk chocolate fondue. Actually the wine ran out before we finished the desert forcing us to top off with Bailey’s and Penfolds’ port; life is hard but we try to go along with it.
The wine with the meal was simply astounding. Drink now, but should last until 2025-2029. This is still a young wine so I strongly recommended that you decant and aerate for one hour, or more, before drinking.