Whitey begins a series about one of his besties: that elusive fine Grenache.
Enter the Bekkers, Toby and Emmanuelle, both winemakers. “A valley floor parcel from the gravels and clays of the Christies Beach Formation contributes density, structure and framework to our Grenache, while Blewitt Springs and Kangarilla – both Maslin Sands – fruit allows us some latitude to finetune the style,” Toby says.
“The lighter weight and pretty aromatics of these later ripening parcels complement our more robust valley floor parcel.”
While perhaps reluctant to link Grenache flavour directly to geology – he suspects altitude is more significant – Bekkers is happy to use the old geological mappers’ trick of adopting native flora as an above-ground indicator of geology and thence flavour.
“One of my interests is looking at remnant native vegetation and its relationship to site – particularly elevation and soil type,” he says.
“Take Blewitt Springs: vegetation: Pinkgum, Yakka, Banksia. Indicators of deep bleached sand over orange clay. Combined with some elevation, this results in really perfumed, slightly lighter-bodied Grenache and Shiraz …
“Compared to Seaview? Vegetation: Mallee Box eucalypt, Casuarina, Wattle. Indicators of shallow red or grey loam over rock, calcrete and clay. Restricts access to moisture. Lower elevation and closer to coast means warmer and earlier ripening. Results in darker-fruited Grenache/Shiraz and enhanced concentration. Tannin profile is more intense/robust.
“In our case, we use some of the denser material as the core of the wine and then complement it with some aromatic punch from Blewitt Springs or Clarendon.”
So that’s a broad-brush summary of the sources in one district alone. Within McLaren Vale, Grenache, we seem to agree, is particularly deft at reflecting the flavours of its source.