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.
Steve’s interest in Grenache stretches back to the mid 90s upon first arriving in McLaren Vale. A preference for making medium-bodied wines is where his Grenache love affair began. Given the warm, Mediterranean climate, Grenache grows as well in ‘the Vale’ as any of the more revered Grenache regions including France’s Rhône Valley, Priorat in Spain and Italy’s Sardinia. The Grenache grapes for this wine grow on the 75 year old vines from the Old McDonald vineyard in Blewitt Springs. It is unusual to find 100% Grenache wines, as most of the time it is blended. In Steve’s words the 2017 Old McDonald Grenache is “quite possibly the best Grenache I have ever made”.
The 2017 vintage was very cool and mild, which was ideal for the vines. Good winter and spring rains were followed by a very mild, long summer. The results are wines with ample fruit complexity and great natural acidity.
The Grenache grapes were hand harvested on 4th March, which is early for Grenache. The grapes were traditionally vinified in small open-top fermenters with 20% whole bunch. The wine spent 11 days on skins before gentle pressing. It was transferred to a 4,500 litre, eight-year-old French-oak vat for maturation before being bottled without filtration nine months later.
Even though 2017 was a cool year, this Grenache is highly perfumed with an assortment of aromas and flavours including raspberry leaf, pomegranate, Turkish Delight, blood orange and violets. It is succulent, juicy, elegant and light to medium bodied. On the palate, the sandy tannins, that are typical to this varietal, are well integrated and provide a balanced, long finish.