Our last day in McLaren Vale started off early, hitting the beach to take in the views. In summer, Maslin is a popular nude beach; in winter, we caught different scenery—the layers of sedimentary rock that showed the geological age of the region!
After our 7am beach visit, we stopped at Ancient Grains bakery to sample some brekkie pies, meat pies, long blacks and flat whites. They did not disappoint. We bought a few for the following morning’s breakfast, for sustenance before our flights home.
We headed to Bekkers winery just after, where we met Toby, the winemaker and owner. We had joined him for dinner the night before, and told him that we were really getting more interested in grenache. He set up three different barrel samples of grenache: all similar aged vines, all same vintage, all same barrel treatment. The only differences were elevation and location within McLaren Vale. It was really eye opening to see the differences in the three wines. Their Fox Terrier, Smudge, tried to steal the show, but the grenache was showing him up.
After Bekkers, we headed to S.C. Pannell. With a big reputation and lots of awards, we weren’t really sure what to expect. After the first taste of wine, we all realized that the wines lived up to the hype. The staff at Pannell prepared an amazing lunch for us and opened lots of different wines: nebbiolo, shiraz, grenache, grenache/touriga blends… Plus a few others.
From Pannell, we drove over to Samuel’s Gorge. Our van got stuck in some mud after a wrong turn, so Michelle and Josiah pushed while Mike drove us out of the muck. The property is in an old farmhouse and is stunning. The wines are great, with an old-school touch that comes from Justin McNamee, the winemaker and proprietor with super wild locks and a philosophical outlook.
Our next visit was Wirra Wirra, a bigger name in the area. We barrel tasted and had their whole range of wines. We also got to see (and launch) their giant catapult. Josiah was pretty proud of his watermelon release.
The Paxton crew came to pick us up and brought us out to their very old shiraz vineyard. We were able to catch sunset over the vineyard before our dinner with Brash Higgins. He showed us around his barrel room, which also has quite a few locally made amphorae with some interesting varieties inside. We tasted several of his wines with a great home cooked meal. We were exhausted early and went to our retreat house to catch three hours of sleep before heading to the airport at 3am!
Now that we are back in the States, we’ve got lots of conference calls to make between the three of us to choose our final wines! We are all leaning towards the same producers, but you never know what curveballs are going to be thrown.—Michelle Bisceglia
This story appears in the print issue of jan 2019.
Like what you read? Subscribe today.