There isn’t much that Stepen Pannell – aka S.C. Pannell – hasn’t done.
Here’s a winemaker that has won a Jimmy Watson Trophy (twice if you count Hardys). Worked for a big company and then gone on to make his own label. Been National Wine Show Chief Judge. Crowned as Winemaker of the Year. Named as Bushing King. It goes on and on..
Now, you can add ‘at the pointy end of the Grenache revival’ to the list.
There’s a cadre of winemakers that belong to the nouveau Aussie Grenache club, headed by people like Marco Cirillo at Cirillo Estate, or Pete Fraser from Yangarra. But still, it’s a small group, and Grenache sits low in the Australian grape hierarchy.
Wines like these single vineyard 2017s, however, remind that more winemakers should join the ‘I ❤️ Grenache club’.
For my money, this is a variety that Australia should be championing. Sure, Grenache is planted all over the world – particularly in Spain and southern France. Yet Australia has both the vineyards and the collective winemaking experience with the variety.
In other words, Grenache deserves more love from everyone…
S.C. Pannell Old McDonald Grenache 2017
Old McDonald has a farm. At Blewitt Springs. With 75 year old, dry grown vines.
What’s immediately attractive is the brightness, the cool vintage delivering exuberance on nose and palate. It’s pretty, ripe and so very lively, with just a little back palate bitterness to keep it in shape. That pure raspberry fruit runs deep, the shape round, yet mouthfilling in natural fruit life. A Grenache of mid weight purity, light and energy that is genuinely delicious.
Best drinking: Now to fifteen years easy. But why wait? 14.5%, $60, 18.5/20, 94/100. Would I buy it? Sure would. Not expensive for the quality and provenance.
S.C. Pannell Smart Grenache 2017
From 62 yr old dry grown Grenache vines at Clarendon. After the open and opulent Old McDonald this is cooler and has more spice. Perfectly pitched red fruit with a lick of something more primal at the back. That translucent Grenache fruit glory is again on display – exuberant mid weight and bright, but with darker notes underneath. Delicious, again, and my pick of the two (just)
Best drinking; This could go even longer than the Old McDonald, but a delicious drink now. 14.2%, $60. 18.6/20, 94/100. Would I buy it? Sure would. Probably even take this over the Old McDonald.
Meanwhile, here are a few more of the recent Pannell releases.
S.C. Pannell Tempranillo Touriga 2016
According to Pannell the interesting thing about 2016 is the similarity to 1996 and 2006 with ‘profound tannins balanced by exuberant fruit’ . He also thinks this is ‘unquestionably the most serious Tempranillo Touriga to date’ too.
Includes a little Tinta Cao in the mix this vintage. Indeed, it’s a serious wine in ‘16 too. Inky purple red, the nose is dense and compact, almost unyielding. But the palate is a surprise – I was expecting heavy flavours and extract and alcohol. But it’s savoury and dry, tannic and focused, the acidity perhaps a little firm, but the ripe glossy purple fruit evened out by grainy tannins. Substantial modern Vale red with tannins and grip. The future is where this wine will shine.
Best drinking: I’d wait 2-3 years and then it will go medium term – so fifteen years plus. 14%, $30. 17.7/20, 92/100+. Would I buy it? Yes I would. Intrigue here at a very fair price.
S.C. Pannell The Vale 2016
Stephen’s ‘wine of place’ using old McLaren Vale vines from two vineyards. All matured in large 5000L oak. 70% Grenache and 30% Shiraz. Purple red, the nose has a ferrous ripeness to it with just a dash of plum jam. Thrusts of juicy, lightly confected Grenache red currant fruit with a sandy bitternesss through the middle. No obvious oak influence and that helps accentuate the Grenache. There’s a width here – a real volume of flavour. It’s perhaps a little warm, but that core of Grenache fruit is a star.
Best drinking: Good drinking for the next 15 years+. 14.5%, $40. 17.7/20, 92/100. Would I buy it? I’d drink a bottle but would pay for the Temp Touriga.
S.C. Pannell Basso Garnacha 2017
Early release, low sulphur (30ppm) and unfiltered joven style. Spends 6 months in large old oak. Very light ruby, all sweet red lolly raspberry fruit and cinnamon, in a bright and primal style. Such life! Bright Grenache fruit, a twist of bitterness and then light tannins. The perfect summer drinking red style. Maybe a fraction simple, but that’s kinda the style. Nice wine.
Best drinking: Now for the fruit, but will continue to drink well for years yet. 13.5%, $28. 17.5/20, 91/100. Would I buy it? Yum yes.