As this is the Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend, I thought it appropriate that I write about a Clare Valley milestone today.
There are only a limited number of businesses in the wine industry that can claim a centenary of any sorts and even less that can claim it in relation to a vineyard.
This year, the Clare Valley’s progressive and dynamic, Reillys Wines, has achieved this milestone with the Grenache vines on their “Home Block” Vineyard in Leasingham having been planted in 1919. The vines were
Since being planted 100 years ago, these dry grown, Centenarian “bush” vines have produced limited (by today’s standards) quantities of amazingly flavoursome, small Grenache berries. These vines continue to be hand-picked as they were over the past century.
Today, these ancient vines are managed by Reillys’ owner and winemaker, Dr Justin Ardill, who appropriately is passionate about making his wines as traditionally as possible while at the same time embracing modern quality standards. Since founding the winery 25 years ago, he has continued the age-old practice of fermenting the red grapes, in open fermenters using wild yeasts. During vintage he can often be seen in the winery hand plunging the must caps himself.
Justin is passionate about retaining as much of the vineyard/site character of the grapes as possible because it is a reflection of what the Clare Valley is able to produce. This originality is further enhanced by a considerable part of the winery’s production being dry grown, thus truly reflecting the vintage conditions.
Once fermentation is complete, the wine is matured for two years in a combination of French and American oak barrels. When Justin judges that a particular wine is ready, it is then bottled and cellared in bottle for a further three to four years before being released when at its very best. Almost every vintage of this Grenache wine since 2004 has either won wine show medals or received high praise from highly respected wine critics.
Being a small “make” in volume terms, this gorgeous Grenache wine is not widely available in retail stores across the country. It is however readily available at the Reillys Cellar Door cottage in Mintaro, where with its rich fruit flavours and elegantly subtle tannins it has become a favourite with visitors.
It will be while before the Reillys 2019 Old Bush Vine Grenache is released due to their philosophy of not releasing wines until they are ready for current consumption. The current release is the 2013 vintage, with the 2014 being released later in the year. However, it is a wine that will be worth waiting for and also a fitting way to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of one of our WWI diggers who planted the vines on land given to him by a grateful nation. www.reillyswines.com.au
THIS WEEKS WINE REVIEW:
The Clare Valley Gourmet Weekend is a major event on the South Australian wine calendar with hordes of Adelaidians flocking up there to enjoy the fabulous food and wine experience.
One of the wines that will be on offer there this weekend is the REILLYS WINES 2014 OLD BUSH VINE GRENACHE. As detailed in today’s Blog this wine was made from grapes grown on vines that were planted in 1919. www.reillyswines.com.au
At five-years-old this wine is just hitting its straps, with the vibrant fruit flavours coming to the fore. It has a bouquet of lifted black and red fruit aromas coupled with a smattering of pepper and just a hint of liquorice.
The palate is big, bold and rich with plenty of blackberry flavours melded with a dash of chocolate and a tinge of dried herbs. It is silky but with tight tannins on the finish. Enjoy this glorious wine now with hearty Autumnal food, or double decant it and enjoy it on its own.
PS: On a recent visit to the winery I got to have a taste of the still fermenting 2019 vintage of the Old Bush Vine Grenache. OH, WOW! It augurs ever so well for the centenary vintage of this wine. I can’t wait!!