Country, Region: South Australia, McLaren Vale
Grenache delivers what Pinot promises… A celebration of the dogged stubbornness of two McLaren Vale families, who persisted with their plots of Grenache, when other implored them to turn their land to other pursuits. From very old bush vines each vineyard eighty years plus, we make a contemporary Grenache with fragrance, succulence and fine boned structure (a little like our favourite Pinots!!).
Hand harvested from a suite of four very old bush vine vineyards, picked over 5 separate dates and separated by 3 weeks to provide layered complexity and varying degrees of ripeness. The three neighbouring Blewitt Springs vineyards, planted in 1930, 1939, and 1940 respectively contributed 82% of the blend, with the balance coming from the oldest portion of the Smart vineyard in Clarendon planted in 1920.
We love the combination of these two expressions of McLaren Vale Grenache - the spicy, fine, pinot-esque expression that hails from the rocky loams and altitude of Clarendon, and the ever so slightly darker, more structured characteristics we see from the deep white sands of Blewitt Springs. Separated into 8 separate wild ferments, hand plunged only, they varied in whole-bunch inclusion from a couple of de-stemmed whole berry ferments up to 28%, and time on skins from 3 to 6 weeks, all building necessary tannin and structure. We then basket pressed each parcel to a mixture of old oak puncheons and inert tanks. As always maturation was undertaken on fine lees to build mid palate texture and for the reductive benefit to counter Grenache’s predisposition to oxidation. With 6 months only in large old oak to allow the blend to come together and bottled young before any meaningful oak influence can be seen. 14.7 % alc/vol.
Showing old vine intensity without heaviness, fragrant cranberry and wild cherry fruit lift, violets, earth, and garrigue herbs: the palate is pure with calming depth and intensity, but kept necessarily fresh by grainy tannins and a bright line of natural acid.
After almost three decades shared experience in the wine industry, Bernice Ong and Julian Forwood decided to have a crack at their own (ad)venture. For them, Ministry of Clouds represents the relinquishing of past security and structure for the beguiling freedom and independence inherent in this, their own voice.
They seek fruit from distinguished vineyard sites mostly in McLaren Vale, but also in the Clare Valley for a crystalline expression of Riesling and across the Bass Strait for a flinty and somewhat wild expression of a Tasmanian Chardonnay. Their reds revel in Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro and Tempranillo fruit from a variety of mature vineyard sites through McLaren Vale, some up to 90 years of age.
Ministry of Clouds produce classic wines that show careful attention to detail, wines that speak of the land, that reveal the essence of the season; wines with perfect ripeness yet showing some tension, restraint and poise complete with crunchy texture, delicate balance and a somewhat modest built. They are wines that beg to be shared on a convivial table consumed with various foods, flavours and textures.