Australia’s McLaren Vale Wine Region

Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region is known primarily for Shiraz and Cabernet wines. Since it has a Mediterranean climate, it also produces several Rhone, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese varietals, including Tempranillo, Grenache, Nebbiolo and Touriga Nacionale.

Although our time was limited in the region, we were still able to visit five wineries—and they were winners.

Kay Brothers

Kay Brothers is a small winery at which we unfortunately hit two loud and demanding tours. Although we had a number of nice wines, including the 2014 Basket Press Merlot, we did have one highlight—the 2014 Block 6 Shiraz which comes from 122 year-old vines and is a worthy successor to the 2012 we had at a San Francisco trade tasting and prompted our visit.

S.C. Pannell

We particularly enjoyed three 2015 wines at S.C. Pannell:

  • Pinot Noir (from Adelaide Hills);
  • Dead End Tempranillo; and a
  • Tempranillo/Touriga blend.


We enjoyed a number of wines at Coriole:

  • 2015 Dancing Fig (Mouvedre, Grenache, Shiraz blend) which was very attractively priced;
  • 2015 Estate Cabernet; and especially three reserve wines
  • 2012 Vita Reserve Sangiovese;
  • 2014 Scarce Earth Galaxidia Shiraz;
  • 2012 Lloyd Reserve Shiraz, our favorite and the most expensive of what we tasted.

Wira Wira Vineyards

We found a number of lovely wines at Wira Wira Vineyards. Our favorites were:

  • 2014 Church Block Cab/Shiraz/Merlot blend, which was incredibly priced;
  • 2014 Woodhenge Shiraz;
  • 2014 RSW Shiraz; and
  • 2014 Chook Block Single Vineyard Shiraz–expensive, but complex and smooth


At d’Arenberg Winery, we were surprised by an intriguing (still under construction) d’Arenberg Cube. This very modernist four-story building will house offices, tasting room and restaurant/banquet room. The wines were also intrigued by a number of the wines.

  • 2015 Broken Fishplate sauvignon blanc, which Joyce enjoyed more than Tom did
  • Museum Release 2006 Ironstone Pressings GSM;
  • 2013 Foothills Shiraz; and
  • 2008 Sticks & Stones a reasonably priced Museum Release of Tempranillo/Shiraz/Tinta Cao/Souzao blend).

Two Artisan Wines show great promise, but still need a number of years. These are:

  • 2012 Derelict Vineyard Grenache and
  • 2011 Sticks and Stones (with slightly different percentages of the same grapes as the above-mentioned 2008).

McLaren Vale Restaurant

Salopian Inn. At this very popular restaurant where we ordered three dishes, but only ended up having two. We fully enjoyed the two Asian-influenced entrees, both of which the sauces totally made the dishes. Although the dishes took longer than we had expected to come out, we enjoyed both the steamed prawn and blue swimmer crab dumplings (which were brought alive by the relatively mild roasted chili oil sauce) and the braised red kangaroo tail (which was totally made by the wonderful chili caramel sauce, with Szechuan salt). We were looking forward to another very unusual Asian dish (not to speak of its sauce); Sri Lankan style “Hopper” with fermented coconut pancake, cauliflower curry, egg, coconut sambal and an intriguing chili-based “Palak” sauce. Unfortunately, after waiting and waiting, our server said that it would still be another 10 to 15 minutes. Looking ahead to a very long drive, we were forced to leave. And, as we discovered by speaking with other patrons on the way out, we were not the only ones who endured unconscionably long waits. This enough would have been sufficient for an unfavorable notice, if only the sauces weren’t so damn good.

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