CLARE VALUE: Power and elegance comes in a box – of these four reds under $22 a bottle
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Clare Valley is arguably Australia’s greatest riesling-producing region, but don’t for a second underestimate the value of its reds.
Clare shiraz and cabernet sauvignon combine power with an elegance that distinguishes these reds from other regional examples. You’ll find more generous fruit flavours in most Clare reds compared to cool-climate styles but in a soft, medium-bodied frame – not quite as boisterous as a big-boned Barossa or McLaren cousin.
The Australian Wine Club shines a light this week on Clare reds, with our mixed dozen bringing together two 95-point reds, an eight-year-old cabernet crafted by third-generation producers and a unique red blend that’s zooming up the popularity charts.
They’re all stamped with the class of Clare and there’s no inflation breakout here: we’re offering these four quality wines for little more than $20 a bottle. Plus, there’s an opportunity to add in a cracking Watervale Clare Valley riesling. Yes, when it comes to wine, we are the lucky country.
The 2015 Mitchell Sevenhill Vineyard cabernet extols the virtues of small-batch, minimal-touch, sustainable family winemaking.
The cabernet fruit comes from vines planted in 1982 in a vineyard that literally surrounds the Mitchell family homestead and winery.
“The grapes only travel about 100 metres from the vineyard to the winery,’’ says Angus Mitchell, whose grandfather, Peter McNicol Mitchell, began working with a small, underdeveloped patch of vineyard at Sevenhill in Clare in 1949.
“They’re dry-grown vines, small berries, hand-picked according to taste and fermented in the traditional way.”
The result is well-structured, long-living red wines – no fuss, but no shortcuts either.
It was Angus’s father and mother, Andrew and Jane Mitchell, who built the wine business, patiently expanding their vineyards to 80 hectares, travelling widely to study the art and science of winemaking and instilling in their three children the principles of hard work and attention to detail.
The family decided about 10 years ago to implement sustainable practices throughout their operations and eliminate the use of artificial herbicides and pesticides across their vineyards at Sevenhill and Watervale in the Clare Valley. They believe this has led to even better-tasting fruit.
Angus, who is now general manager while his sisters, Hilary and Edwina, also work in the business, says Clare Valley cabernet remains tremendously underrated.
“They can be quite tight when they’re young but as they develop and get towards seven to 10 years of age, you really see the elegance, the tannins soften and you have this smoothness and beautiful flavours with a long finish,” he says.
Worth decanting for a few hours to allow the flavours to come alive, eight years after vintage. Shows off aromas blackcurrant, leather, eucalypt, tomato leaf and tobacco. Good combination of fruit, oak, acidity and tannins on the palate. Best enjoyed with food – rack of barbecued lamb or beef bourguignon would fit the bill.
92 Halliday points. 14% alc; RRP $30 a bottle.
From a single estate vineyard at White Hut. Plum, blueberries and cranberry flavours, with a swirl of vanilla define this opulent offering. Tangy acid and fine-grained tannins drive to a long finish. Matured for 17 months in seasoned French oak barrels.
Tyson Stelzer at Halliday Wine Companion awarded 95 points. Decant for full benefit. 14.5% alc; RRP $55 a bottle.
Cracking 95-point grenache from a Clare flagwaver. You’ll find bags of flavour: red licorice, raspberry, red apple, fennel and spice. Matured in seasoned French oak for eight months. Halliday Wine Companion reviewer Erin Larkin wrote: “This is a beautiful wine! Totally buoyant, plump and pleasurable. Get some.”
14.5% alc; RRP $40 a bottle.
Innovation is a driving force within the Pike family. Their Clare Valley estate now features more than 20 different varieties and such is the popularity of this unique shiraz-tempranillo blend (80%/20%), it is now produced in bigger volumes than any other Pikes red. Raspberry and cherry flavours drive this juicy wine, with hints of anise, mint and white pepper filling our frame. No harm in lightly chilling on a summer afternoon.
Red star for exceptional value and 92 Halliday points. 14.5% alc; RRP $25 a bottle.
15-BOTTLE BUY Add three bottles of Crabtree Watervale Clare Valley Riesling 2021 (RRP $32 a bottle) for $21.59 across the 15 bottles.
Order by simply clicking the links to our online store or telephone 1300 765 359 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm AEST. Deals are available only while stocks last. The Australian Wine Club is a commercial partnership with Laithwaites Wine, LIQP770016550. Stockhead is partnering with The Australian Wine Club on this offer.