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Introducing Aphelion Wine: Limited Grenache From McLaren Vale


A few months ago we tried the latest releases from Aphelion wines, a passion project of husband-and-wife team Rob Mack and Louise Rhodes. Since then we've been telling as many people who would listen about them and have been waiting to dedicate a newsletter article to them - event if these wines are in very limited quantities.

Why? Because we're all really big fans of these wines (and we're not alone apparently, given the awesome feedback they're generating on industry bible The Wine Front.

Both Mack and Rhodes work as Assistant Winemakers in McLaren Vale and in the past couple of years they've kept small batches of fruit aside to fill a few barrels of wine that have been receiving their extra special attention.

In one of their more unique moves, they sourced one tonne of grenache from a 70-year-old vine from a grower in Blewitt Springs (a sub-region of McLaren Vale) and split the haul into to separate ferments. One ferment was de-stemmed berries and the other was half whole bunches and half de-stemmed.

Fermented to dry, the free-run juice from each ferment was then run into separate neutral French oak barriques. In a third they combined and pressed the remaning ferments which went into a third barrel.

After nine months maturation they bottled 100 bottles from each of the three barrels - the Whole Berry, the Pressing and the 50/50. The rest was blended into the 'main' grenache release, which in itself is only 540 bottles.

Also available is the chardonnay from Adelaide Hills (240 bottles), which was whole bunch pressed and fermented in a third use French barrique.

Don't be afraid of the wax, this is incredibly good wine for the price - particularly if you are partial to grenache.

Available now in store or online:

Aphelion Chardonnay 2014

"Light, refreshing style with some creaminess to texture, touch of honeyed character and a light, toasty finish. Whiffs of vanilla bean amongst just-ripe stone fruit and a suggestion of green herbs or ferns. Delicious, effortless drinking, restrained yet shows some textural nuance. It’s very good; I doubt anyone keen on chardonnay wouldn’t be satisfied." - Mike Bennie, Wine Front. 240 bottles.

Aphelion Grenache 2014

"It’s heady with musk, raspberry, cola, sweet spice and some cedary, old spice cupboard notes. In the palate, ripeness, some alcohol heat, but not too untoward in the sweet berry fruit, peppery spice and general juiciness. It’s a great McLaren Vale grenache, complex in a way, but highly gluggable. There are lots of the best touchstones and feel of the variety, from a warm place.'' - Wine Front. 540 bottles.

Aphelion 50/50 Grenache 2014 

Cool and crazy. This is the blend of 50% de-stemmed and 50% whole bunch. Incredibly priced for the labour and fiddling, compared to so many projects of similar ilk. Mike Bennie-Wine Front. 100 bottles.

Aphelion Pressing Grenache 2014

A medium bodied and softly textured wine that has a lovely acid line that carries the palate flavours a long way. 100 bottles.

Aphelion Whole Berry Grenache 2014

Pale, floral and musk scented. Very pretty nose with dark savoury balsamic edges. Delicious! 100 bottles.

Paul Hervy