There are very few Australian wines that can boast 4 varieties deliberately blended together to achieve a wine that tastes so complete. This blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon has good palate weight and structure without any hint of aggressive young tannins as they have been balanced out by the Grenache and Merlot. This wine is formulated to allow for early drinking however the addition of the Shiraz and in particular the Cabernet gives the wine focus, length and ageability. Aptly named Quarterback as the 4 varieties are in approximately equal proportions. This is blending at its wonderfully, challenging best.
During a visit to Australia in June of 2004 Benjamin Hammerschlag was assessing the portfolio of another young winemaker in McLaren Vale. During the tasting, the parcels that stood out time and again had come from Tony De Lisio’s vineyards. The impression stuck and yielded an extensive tasting of De Lisio’s wines. Consistently impressed, Hammerschlag approached De Lisio and discovered an Italian immigrant with 30 years of experience in McLaren Vale. De Lisio’s talents lie in the vineyard and his connection to other immigrants in the region give him access to some of the best fruit in the district which happen to meet the classic Epicurean Wines criteria; phenomenal raw materials transformed into wines that are jam-packed with intensity.
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McLaren Vale is home to the oldest Australian vineyard, with grapes planted in 1838. It's a coastal area with the Indian Ocean bordering the west, which contributes a cooling factor that prevents the grapes from getting too hot. In all, the climate is a perfect one for the vines.
In McLaren Vale, there are vines as far as the eye can see. As in other parts of Australia, Shiraz and Grenache are the most-planted grapes of the region. While red rules, whites are able to hold their own here too. With the warm yet reasonable Mediterranean climate, white grapes like Chardonnay, Semillon and even some Sauvignon Blanc grow well. The wines are round and smooth and the producers in the region are excellent.
Like the United States, which is about the same size, Australia's winemaking regions are huddled into one or two pockets of the country. The state of South Australia, which produces about 60% of the country's wine, also has the most wineries and sub-regions, including McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Coonawarra and Barossa Valley. New South Wales is home to the Hunter Valley, while the smaller, southern state of
Victoria is best known for theYarra Valley. Head way west to the very large state of Western Australia and you'll find the tiny region of Margaret River at the southern tip.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.