Rob Mack had his professional life sorted – until he spent one vintage making wine in Clare Valley.

It was 2010 and the young financial whiz had just completed a business degree at the University of Technology in Sydney and already scored a graduate’s job at Deloitte’s Australian headquarters at Circular Quay.

“My plan was to follow that path but then my thinking got thrown out,’’ Rob says.

The wine bug bit hard during those weeks helping out at Kilikanoon, where legendary winemaker Kevin Mitchell was at the height of his powers. He emerged from the winery excited by the idea of combining his financial skills with wine and only stayed a few months at Deloitte before taking a job in the wine trade at Laithwaites.

By 2014, he was ready to fully succumb to the winemaking lure, experimenting with a single tonne of perfect Blewitt Springs Grenache in McLaren Vale. It sold out.

A decade later and his Aphelion Wine business is shining brightly: Rob was voted Young Gun of Wine in 2018, and the following year Aphelion won Best Small Producer at the McLaren Vale Wine Show. Critics’ praise and five red stars from the Halliday Wine Companion have cemented Aphelion’s status as one of Australia’s most exciting small producers and a leading maker of premium grenache.

So it makes sense that the 95-point Aphelion Affinity McLaren Vale Grenache Mourvedre 2021 should lead The Australian Wine Club’s focus on grenache in our dozen deal of the week.

The grand old grape – Australia is home to the oldest grenache vines in the world – has become the hottest thing in wine in recent years, with fruit prices soaring as a new generation of winemakers like Rob create a modern style of fresh, super approachable wines.

Grenache was essentially treated as an afterthought for most of the past century, left to hang on vines and over-ripen (increasing alcohol levels) until winemakers had completed making their shiraz and space became available in wineries. But as Rob says, more wine lovers are preferring to drink lighter, fruit-driven styles today and scale back their enjoyment of the heavier, oak-influenced shiraz and cabernets that have dominated the wine scene over the past 50 years.

“Grenache is appealing to a couple of different kinds of wine drinkers,’’ Rob says. “You have people who love pinot noir checking out grenache because, like pinot, it is driven by beautiful aromatics and is medium-bodied – not too heavy.

“On the other side, you have those who enjoy shiraz and cabernet attracted to grenache because it tends to create wines that are concentrated in flavour and have more weight than pinot.

“The other thing is that well-made grenache is really accessible when its young – fresh, juicy aromatic wines – so you don’t have to wait a couple of years to enjoy them.”

Rob and his partner in Aphelion, his wife Louise Rhodes Mack, have a strong focus on minimal intervention winemaking, creating wines that are bright and fresh. This means staying away from chemicals and pesticides in the vineyard; avoiding additives in the winery like artificial tannins and oak chips to add flavour, a careful use of oak, and no fining of the wines.

It’s a philosophy that goes right back to the start of Rob’s career “diversion” and the choice of Aphelion as the name of his wine venture: Aphelion in Greek means “from the sun”.

“I really just want the wines to reflect the site (where the fruit was grown) and the season,’’ he says.


Aphelion Affinity McLaren Vale Grenache Mourvedre 2021

A 60:40 grenache/mourvedre blend from an excellent vintage. Enticing scents of fresh cherries, plums and raspberries lift from the glass, with hints of aniseed, fennel and white pepper. Mourvedre adds structure and savouriness to the fresh red fruits flavours. Serious depth. A burst of natural acidity driving to a long finish. Delicious. 95 points from Halliday Wine Companion and a red star for exceptional value. 14.2% alc; RRP $38 a bottle.

SPECIALS $38 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in Grenache dozen.


RedHeads Princess of Thieves 2022

Classic Rhone-style blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre. Bright grenache-dominant fruit on the nose (raspberries and strawberries and cream), with hints of Turkish delight. Red plums and dark morello cherry flavours flow through on the palate, balanced with subtle savoury notes. Softly woven tannins and juicy acidity. A crowd pleaser. 14.5% alc; RRP $35 a bottle.

SPECIALS $26.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in Grenache dozen.


Patritti 2020 Section 181 McLaren Vale Single Vineyard Grenache 2020

This five-star winery, founded in 1926 by Giovanni Patritti, draws on exceptional vineyards in McLaren Vale, including one planted in 1961 at Section 181 Branson Road. You’ll find a full-bodied expression of grenache here: red fruits, vanilla and spice on the nose, with sweet dark cherries, clove and pepper on the palate. 92 points from Winestate Magazine. 14.5% alc; RRP $50 a bottle.

SPECIALS $39.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in Grenache dozen.


Loom Wines Single Vineyard Field Blend Grenache Shiraz 2019

From a 100-year-plus vineyard planted to grenache and shiraz. Vibrant aromas of red fruits, milk chocolate and pepper usher in a juicy, fruit-forward palate with lovely plum and red fruits combining with savoury notes of coffee, pepper and spice. Beautiful balance. 14% alc; RRP $50 a bottle.

SPECIALS $34.99 a bottle in any dozen; $24.99 in Grenache dozen.

GRENACHE DOZEN Three bottles of each wine above for $24.99 a dozen. SAVE $219 a dozen

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.