Penny's Hill Cracking Black Shiraz 2012, McLaren Vale, Australia

Drunk September 2015 @ home

The winery

After several years searching unsuccessfully for an established McLaren Vale vineyard, Tony and Susie Parkinson finally had to buy some bare land in 198 upon which to establish a vineyard. Located in the foothills east of McLaren Vale, the 32 ha (80 acre) property, long used for grazing, gave commanding views over the waters of Gulf St. Vincent and the promise of a great vineyard.

The property was named Penny’s Hill Vineyard, after the hill at the foot of which it is sited. Vines were planted to a unique narrow-row configuration from 1991.

In 1993, the newly planted Malpas Road property was acquired, followed in 1996 by purchase of an adjacent highly prized hay-producing paddock that was immediately planted to vines and named Goss Corner. In 1998, the original Goss family homestead, ‘Ingleburne’ was added to the Malpas and Goss properties to reconnect what had originally been one entire holding.

Now many years on, Tony Parkinson maintains ownership and management of the business with a dedicated team which includes younger son, James who is learning the vineyard ropes and taking care of property maintenance. Son David is also working on site, but as a filmmaker and graphics contributor to the wine enterprise.

The wine

The fifth vintage of ‘Cracking Black’ Shiraz, is so named due to the majority of fruit being sourced on the cracking black Bay of Biscay soils of the Malpas Road vineyard in McLaren Vale.

Dating back to 1838, McLaren Vale was one of the first regions in South Australia planted to vines. The region enjoys a true Mediterranean climate experiencing winter dominant rainfall and warm, dry summers tempered by the proximity to the waters of Gulf St Vincent. A long summer-autumn ripening period ensures good fruit ripeness, richness and balance.

Planted in 1991 and added to the Penny’s Hill estate vineyard group in 1993, Malpas Road is named after the pioneering Malpas family who held lands in what was originally referred to as ‘Bay of Biscay’. This is an obvious reference to the relatively infertile cracking, grey-black soil upon which our hand-tended Shiraz patch does its work. The fissures which occur as the black soil cracks apart, sever surplus root structure; a process which naturally lessens vigour and enhances ultimate grape quality. Other fruit parcels were sourced from the slightly higher elevated vines of the Penny’s Hill vineyard. Harvest was February - March 2012.

To best reflect the variations in terroir across the vineyards, harvest of individual parcels occurred on different days. Grapes were crushed, de-stemmed and fermented on skins in open fermenters for 7 days prior to pressing. Wines completed fermentation for up to 16 months in French oak barrels; approximately 30% new, the balance 1-3 years old. By keeping parcels separate throughout the winemaking process, winemaker Ben Riggs was able to access a wide variety of component characteristics as final blending approached. Bottling – 8th August 2013. tasting notes

Penny's Hill Cracking Black Shiraz is a classic McLaren Vale Shiraz and exactly what I like from this style of wine. Very concentrated in colour and flavour with intense fruit.  Blackberry, mulberry, black cherry and pepper the typical notes from the region are very evident but in a balanced way, not over powered by alcohol, with just the right amount of tannin and with a long dark chocolate  finish. For £15 a bottle or so, a very good Australian wine, particularly if you like a full bodied style.