Willunga 100 is in McLaren Vale, south of Adelaide. The grapes come from a range of selected vineyards in McLaren Vale, including some over 80 years old. Winemaker Mike Farmilo joined the team as head winemaker in 2013 and is supported by Tim James. Together they aim to produce unique and distinctive wines which capture the essence of the region. They use modern equipment alongside traditional winemaking techniques to ferment the small parcels of fruit arriving at the winery. The term "hundred" originates from late Saxon and Norman England and refers to an administrative unit of government, meaning that 100+ households had to live in the area to qualify for its place on the map. Willunga 100 select their fruit from small parcels just as the district was divided up into '100s', or small lots.
The Tithing is made only in the best vintages, from small parcels of premium bush vine grapes grown in the Di Fabio Vineyard in the Blewitt Springs sub-region of McLaren Vale. The bush vines here have an average age of 60 years and the soils are North Maslin sand with a clay sub soil. These darker, heavier soils contribute an abundance of dark fruit and bold tannins.
2016 was a vintage of two distinct halves. Winter and spring were exceptionally dry and warm, and the vines required additional irrigation to avoid heat stress. Thankfully, a number of rainstorms gave 2016 one of the wettest and mildest ripening periods. This cool, wet period saved the harvest and allowed for a long maturation period, which resulted in wines with incredible structure and ageing potential.
Hand-picked fruit was open fermented at high temperatures with regular pump-overs and plunging down to ensure optimum early extraction. This regime was lessened toward the end of the ferment to maintain the delicate aromatics of the Grenache. The wine was matured in a mixture of older French oak Hogs Heads and new Ermitage and Taransaud Hogs Heads for nine months to add complexity and mid-palate richness. The wine was bottled under screwcap to maintain freshness and ensure longevity.
The Tithing is a dark, deep, rich style of Grenache, and shows how diverse this grape can be. The flavours of lifted dark fruit with powerful savoury overtones reflect the winemarking approach, which allows time in oak and bottle before release. Ripe, persistent tannins give the wonderfully balanced fruit great length and intensity.