Mal Leask, our winemaker, talks us through Hither & Yon's range of grenache wines and explains what makes grenache so special.
Grenache is a big deal in McLaren Vale. Our region has come to love the Spanish grape, and though it's been a long journey to get to this point, we're forever thankful to be making quality grenache wines. It's worth noting that when Mal and Richard's dad first arrived in McLaren Vale in the 1980s, grenache was a variety generally used to make either super-sweet and overripe reds or fortified wines. That's all changed now, with the McLaren Vale region being one of the first to recognise the potential of grenache in Australia.
Our philosophy is very much around sustainability and regenerative practices. Grenache is a very site-driven variety, so you should get a feel for the place and the environment in which it's grown, particularly somewhere like McLaren Vale. Our grenache vines have been growing on the property for almost 80 years, and fortunately they've managed to survive long enough for us to really embrace grenache and the special place that McLaren Vale is.
Meet the range
'For Hither & Yon, this is certainly considered one of our classic wines,' says Mal. 'It's a 70/30 blend of grenache/mataro and the aim here was to produce a really lovely, bright, red-fruited and pretty grenache.'
'It's quite a lot of mataro for a blend, though the grenache comes from vines planted in the 1960s, which means it's quite concentrated despite looking light and pretty. The grenache brings the strawberry and raspberry fruit spectrum, with florals and rose petals, while the mataro provides the more spicy and savoury elements. Grenache on its own can be quite simple and juicy, without a lot of length or structure, so the mataro really lengthens the palate and brings a beautiful, easy-flowing feel to the wine. It's tight and very elegant.'
'This is a really good wine for anyone new to grenache, because it's a really meshed, beautiful, blended, simple, juicy wine. You're not looking for the varietal components; it's more about how the wine feels, and it's really soft in the mouth and palatable. Refreshing, too. It's food-friendly, which is important, and great for sharing.'
'There's a beautiful springtime feel about this wine,' says Mal. 'The two different grapes are picked, taken to the winery and crushed and co-fermented together, so it's basically two varieties treated as one wine and a pretty even split between the grenache and touriga.'
'We pick the grapes 10–12 days later than the grenache we use in the mataro blend and we're looking for fuller, spicier fruit. Grenache is renowned for its sweetness and warmth, and the touriga comes over the top with these beautiful purple fruits as well as a sweet spice. It's richer, a little more textural, and a little more chewy on the finish, which makes it a beautiful food wine. If people want something a little more luxurious and silky, this wine certainly does that beautifully.'
'This is a really beautiful grenache made from old bush vines and it's got a nice story behind it,' says Mal. 'Before Hither & Yon started 10 years ago, we'd been growing grenache for other wineries in the region. The grapes used for this wine were taken by other brands, who made some lovely wines, but we wanted to take an opportunity to make our own, which we did in 2016. We put the family name on the back to give it that little bit of heritage and show how proud we are of it and it really does champion place, sub-regional characters, and geology.'
'This wine is really interesting because in a line up of old vine grenache, it's quite difficult to pick where it comes from. We're in the cooler foothills of McLaren Vale and there's a lot of alluvial, sandy loam material in the vineyard here. The wine has a very different nose to a lot of the grenache we see in the region; there's a lot of orange and citrus, almost Campari-like notes, and it's very hard to work out where it comes from. There's a lot of eucalyptus too.'
Pairing grenache with food
'Food pairing is always a good question,' says Mal. 'For me, the grenache/mataro is really good with pizza or pasta dishes, particularly something with a tomato base. The natural acidity helps freshen the finish of the wine, so that's a beautiful, casual pairing on a Friday night.'
'The grenache/touriga has a little more body and texture, so it can handle something that might be lightly charred on the grill, whether it's fresh squid, or haloumi, or little lamb cutlets. My general rule with grenache is that you want the fruit to shine, so we're not trying to layer the food over the top of it. You just want some natural acidity or natural tannin to come into play and allow the grenache to be really pretty.'
Ready to discover all things grenache? You can purchase any of our grenache wines here. We'll be raising a glass of grenache with our friends and family today and hope that you have an opportunity to do the same. We're also waiting to see your grenache-loving faces at our cellar door, so don't forget to come and visit when you have an opportunity!