There are few more blue chip names in Australian wine than Steve Pannell (aka S.C. Pannell).
Son of Moss Wood founders Bill and Sandra Pannell, Steve is the only winemaker in history to have won McLaren Vale’s Bushing Trophy four times (winemaking trophies don’t mean much in isolation, but you can’t argue with four). and done both the big company thing (as Senior Red Winemaker at BRL Hardys) via Burgundy (at Pousse d’Or) plus Barolo (G.D. Vajra) along the way.
Yeah, he’s got the backstory.
It’s that last bit of experience which is the most important for this pair of new releases. Here are two wines that both show an awareness of style often missing in homegrown versions of Piedmont classics. Steve’s clearly been to Asti/Barolo and bought more than a t-shirt. The only thing missing with this duo is the extra dimension of old vine fruit – the mystical x-factor of wine made from established vines planted in the perfect spot.
No quibble about the quality, however.
S.C. Pannell Barbera 2017
From a vineyard at Gumeracha, just down the road from the Protero vineyard. Handpicked and spends 14 months in 30% new oak. Final numbers: pH 3.59. TA 6.6.
A delicious Barbera. Easily the best I’ve had from a local producer. Built in the richer, thicker mode, but with trademark acidity, this marries up vivid purple fruit with fine oak richness filling out the texture and then a perfectly balanced finish with real natural acidity. The oak does play a part, like it does in something like the Vietti Tre Vigne Barbera, but it doesn’t rob this lively medium bodied red of poise. It’s what Barbera is meant to be! Best drinking: Great now and for up to eight years. 18.5/20, 94/100. 14%, $40. Would I buy it? Absolutely.