McLaren Vale has some of the most variable, ancient and weathered soils on the planet. 19 different soil types have been identified in one of the most detailed soil studies carried out in any wine region. It is for this reason we called this wine ‘Ancient Earth’. It is a single-vineyard Shiraz from the beautiful sweep of vines immediately to the south of our Cellar Door. We call this our ‘Cellar Block’.
Our other vineyards have different soil types but we selected this part of our vineyard to carry the Ancient Earth mantle as it makes the quintessential McLaren Vale style of Shiraz. So what’s special about the earth? The earth is known locally as ‘Biscay soil’. It is also referred to as ‘self-mulching black cracking clay’ and these soils have unique properties. Slow to wet, they can tightly hold a large volumes of water. Unfortunately the soil is not so generous in giving the vines access to this moisture so in heatwave conditions the vines can stress quite quickly. The fruit therefore needs to be watched and managed very carefully as it ripens. On the other hand, correctly managed, the resulting wine can be quite magnificent. Shiraz thrives here and can produce fruit with great fragrance and power, but a structure which guarantees ageing potential.
Since the Cellar Block is our signature vineyard we have worked hard over several years now to ensure the consistency of this block. With careful management of the cover crop on the soil, adjustments to the irrigation regime, and correctly managed pruning to even out the distribution of shoots and fruit, we now have the vineyard working at its optimum for quality.
We want the ancient earth of the Cellar Block doing the talking so we do not intervene much in the winemaking process. Simple de- stemming leads to a gentle, whole berry, warm fermentation. Running to barrel follows within a few days of pressing. We give ‘Ancient Earth’ time in some of our best barrels.
Deep, deep, purple-red This wine has a track record of rewarding cellaring for at least 10 years.
Bouquet & Palate
In this young wine we see the powerful fragrance and flavour of the site, the terroir: liquorice, fruit-cake, blackberries, and dark chocolate. It is quintessentially varietal and regional. Its savoury tannic structure and lively acidity offer longevity. It is fair to call it robust – even slightly rustic - but showing great harmony or balance - just that it has a distinctive structure and mouth-feel, something that we see year in, year out.
Ancient Earth is made in extremely small quantities each year, only 3,240 bottles in 2012, and is consistently one of our super premium offerings.