Stephen Pannell is one of the best and brightest of the new generation of Australian winemakers, having spent a decade working as chief red wine maker at Hardys before striking out on his own in 2004. Steve has worked all over the world, including in Italy with Aldo Vajra in Barolo and in France for Domaine Dujac and Pousse d'Or. His broad experience has helped shape his approach to winemaking and his wines are true expressions of the grapes and vineyards of McLaren Vale. In October 2015, Steve was named Winemaker of the Year by the consumer wine magazine, Gourmet Traveller Wine.
This cool climate Syrah was sourced from Echunga, 410 metres above sea level in the Southern Adelaide Hills. The fruit is grown on well-drained, granitic soils which Stephen believes are perfect for the cultivation of the best quality Syrah. The vineyard is contour planted and is hand harvested in sections progressively through the vintage as each section matures.
Spring and early summer were quite warm and very dry, with temperatures cooler than usual in January and early February, which allowed the fruit character to develop at a steadier pace. The usual hot and dry weather soon returned, and as a result the vintage began a week earlier than normal. Although yields were reduced, the quality of the fruit harvested in 2015 was outstanding and the wines show excellent freshness, vibrancy and intensity.
Fermentation took place in small open top fermenters with 20% whole bunches. This along with hand plunging and pump overs contributed to the beautifully silky tannin structure of the wine. After fermentation, the wine was transferred to large format French oak vats and puncheons and matured for 10 months before bottling.
This wine is highly perfumed, vibrant and complex. There is a lovely tension between the power and control of the palate with intense juicy black fruit and peppery spice woven into a silky texture with well-integrated dry earthy tannins on the finish. As the use of 'Syrah' in the name suggests, it is more Northern Rhône in style.