Stephen Pannell, the winemaker in charge of red wines at Chateau Reynella, has reverted to the traditional methods to produce his reds - restored open fermenters that allow maximum control over small batches of individual vineyard fruit. Following fermentation, rejuvenated basket presses delicately extract the wine from the skins without breaking the grape seeds and over-extracting the harsh tannins from the skins. The result is a classic McLaren Vale red wine with loads of rich fruit and soft delicate tannins.
The Reynell name goes back to the very beginning of the wine industry in South Australia, when John Reynell planted some of the first vines in the infant colony in the area which was later to bear his name. This pioneer of the grape was born in 1809 of a Devonshire farming family.
Shortly after his arrival in 1838 John Reynell established his property, situated 20 kilometres south of Adelaide and 5 kilometres east of St. Vincent's Gulf - the gateway to the McLaren Vale wine region.
The Reynell family were actually the first to grow grapes commercially for winemaking in South Australia. Their first vintage was in 1842.
Tragically, the heirs to the Reynell business were killed in World War 2 and in 1953 the Reynell family relinquished its controlling interest in the company and Colin Haselgrove, the winemaker, was appointed managing director.
In 1970 Walter Reynell and Sons Limited was sold to Hungerford Hill Limited. In 1972 Hungerford Hill sold a half share of its wine interest to Rothmans of Pall Mall.
Towards the end of 1976 Rothmans took complete control of the company after the joint venture was dissolved.
In 1982 however, the old established SA family winemakers, Thomas Hardy and Sons Pty Limited bought Walter Reynell and Sons from Rothmans, with the aim of making the Reynella premises the corporate headquarters for their group of companies.
Though Syrah originated in the Rhône Valley of France, Australia is home to the oldest Syrah (called Shiraz here) vines on the planet. Found in Australia’s Barossa Valley, where phylloxera has never threated viticulture, these ancient vines are between 140 to 175 years old!
Having brought fame and merit to the country’s wine scene since the early 1950s, namely via the debut of Penfolds Grange, today Syrah (Shiraz) claims rank as the most widely planted grape in Australia. In fact, the amount of land dedicated to Shiraz in Australia is now almost equivalent to what it is in France. Australian Shiraz has its own personality with flavors and aromas of intense blackberry, fruitcake, menthol, tobacco leaf and umami. Conveniently one can find great Australian Shiraz at a variety of price points but the very best will be dense, gloriously complex and capable of long aging.