Introducing McLaren Vale
McLaren Vale is on the Fleurieu Peninsula south of Adelaide in South Australia. In a state that boasts abundant natural and manmade beauty, McLaren Vale might be the most outstanding region. Part of the Fleurieu Zone that includes Langhorne Creek, Currency Creek and Kangaroo Island, the area rolls from the Adelaide Hills down to the coast waters of Gulf St Vincent.
From the Adelaide Hills to the northeast, the country rolls and tumbles to the sea which is why it is often described as the place where wine meets the sea. Beautiful beaches and great growing conditions are just part of why this area is renowned for its lifestyle. Post-war Italian immigration had a significant influence on McLaren Vale food and wine culture. Today visitors to the area can eat in winery restaurants.
Where is McLaren Vale?
McLaren Vale is located approximately 35km south of Adelaide, South Australia. From Adelaide, the M2 will cover most of the 40km journey to McLaren Vale in the south in around one hour.
McLaren Vale Climate
Summers in McLaren Vale are hot and dry but enjoy cool relief coming in from the sea. These coastal, Mediterranean-like conditions are perfect for producing red wine. Though occasionally unpredictable conditions can challenge harvests of McLaren Vale Shiraz. 2014 was a year in which early heavy rainfall and late heatwaves challenged growers.
Unique Characteristics of McLaren Vale
Growers have planted the ironstone soils surrounding the town of McLaren Vale producing rich, supple wines with chocolate and mocha characteristics in their Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends. Higher up in Blewitt Springs, the sandy soils produce Grenache with plum and mulberry as well as tobacco and spice.
Being an Australian wine-growing region, there is plenty of Chardonnay on offer. McLaren Vale Chardonnays are rich and peachy and cellar well becoming buttery. Sauvignon Blanc from the area offers ripe tropical fruit flavours, freshness and acidity in the finish. The region is seeing some success emerging from the light, crisp, clean grassy versions of Vermentino being produced, or the nutty, richer, white wines made from Fiano.
The variety of soils over undulating landscapes along with the varied climates allow winemakers to pick from a variety of grapes in the region. McLaren Vale wines are famed for their dry reds and wines which are complex, elegant and well structured.
Wines to try from McLaren Vale
Some of the vines in McLaren Vale are 100 years old and are still productive. McLaren Vale is best known for its deeply coloured, richly flavoured smoothly textured reds. McLaren Vale Shiraz is the dominant varietal. Over half of all land planted to vine in McLaren Vale is planted to the grape Shiraz. Almost all producers from the region use the grape to produce a McLaren Vale Shiraz.
McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon is popular as well as Grenache, Petit Verdot and Mataro. Zinfandel is growing in popularity as is Tempranillo and the Italian influence in the area can be seen in the presence of Sangiovese.
As for white varietals, Chardonnay is the most popular. McLaren Vale also produces Verdelho and Semillon. Sauvignon Blanc from the region offers ripe tropical fruit flavours and is characterised by relatively high levels of sugar in the grape. Some of the region’s more recent plantings include Vermentino, Fiano, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.
Must See McLaren Vale wineries
The history of McLaren Vale is written in its wineries. Thomas Hardy, the founder of Hardy’s wines and a McLaren Vale wine pioneer, acquired Tintara in 1876 and the vineyard has access to some of the best vines in the vale. Other brands to look for include:
- Di Fabio - Tolley Elite
- Paragon - Shark's Block
- Vasarelli - Alternatus
- Mr Riggs - Blood Brother
- Reynella - Primo Estate
- Geoff Merrill - Ingleburn Estate
- Richard Hamilton
The future of McLaren Vale Wine
For McLaren Vale with Adelaide on its doorstep, the future growth of the region’s reputation for great Shiraz but also a wide range of other exciting varietals will be continually steady.
Lifestyle is an important draw for the region for both tourists and those looking to put down roots. McLaren Vale benefits from the close proximity to the state capital, one of the most liveable cities in the world, and the coast on Gulf St Vincent. There is also a vibrant cultural scene with food and the arts being an important part of life in the region. With so much to offer and regional inclination for reinvention, McLaren Vale will continue, as it always has, to grow and develop.
- Mclaren Vale