Chapel Hill Winery, Coriole Vineyards and Wits End

by Vic Harradine

Chapel Hill Winery

The Chapel Hill Winery tasting room is located in just that, a (former) chapel on a hill—once known as the Seaview Methodist chapel and schoolhouse. A stunning feature in this old ironstone building is that which Chapel Hill’s logo is based, a stained-glass window constructed in Scotland in the 1700s. The chapel was officially opened in 1865 and remained until a ceremony officially closed it in 1965, 100 years later. Boarded up and deteriorating, it and surrounding land were purchased from the Uniting church by Adelaide professor, Tom Nelson. Tom planted vines in 1972 and began the monumental task of meticulously restoring the building, creating a winery, a tasting room and offices. The burgeoning winery—the present 2017 vintage is its 43rd consecutive—is still family owned, now by the Swiss-based Schmidheiny family, having purchased it in 2000.

 

Chapel Hill Winery stained-glass window - tasting room


The vines at Chapel Hill have been managed for the past decade by viticulturist, Rachel Steer. They are a member of the ‘Sustainable Australia Winegrowing program’ with a goal of, ‘minimising the impact on the soil and surrounding environment’. Rachel’s also a core, decision-making member of the winemaking team. Her roots are deep in the area, having grown up in nearby Adelaide Hills GI—spending teen-age weekends and summers picking grapes and pruning vines before earning a degree in viticulture. Chief Winemaker and CEO, Michael Fragos and winemaker Bryn Rogers are focused on gentle handling of fruit and minimal intervention, with much of the fruit undergoing small-batch, open-top fermentation with hand plunging, basket pressing and subtle oak maturation accomplishing natural wine clarification without filters or fining. The superior results of the team—wines have incredible purity and balance—showcase themselves in the bottle.

Chapel Hill Winery sign and wine label logo

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chapel Hill ‘George Block’ Chardonnay 2016
McLaren Vale $25.00 12.5% alcohol
Lovely aromas of baking spice, pineapple and lemony citrus stream from the nose of this medium-bodied, nicely textured Chardonnay. It bathes the palate with a sweet and tang river of fine citrus acidity—Key lime and Meyer lemon—riding over a bed of ripe peach and white nectarine—all deftly balanced and intertwined through the mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. (Vic Harradine)

**** drink or cellar
Chapel Hill Mourvèdre 2014
McLaren Vale $30.00 14.5% alcohol
This showcases purity of fruit throughout, good balance and plenty of style and charm. Spice-forward aromas of red berry fruit and black plum introduce a surge of tang-laden flavour with boysenberry and dark cherry adorned with spice, tarry notes and grilled savory herb to the fore. It’s medium bodied with good mouthfeel and a lengthy, lip-smacking finish that’s simply gorgeous. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Chapel Hill 2013 ‘Bush Vine Grenache was sourced from hand-harvested, bush-vine fruit, fermented 10 to 12 days in open-top fermenters, basket-pressed and coarsely racked into one- to five-year-old 300 L hogsheads then bottle un-fined and un-filtered.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chapel Hill ‘Bush Vine’ Grenache 2013
McLaren Vale $30.00 14.5% alcohol
Floral aromas meld with red and black berry fruit and savory herb on the nose of this mid-weight, well-textured red. There’s wonderful spice-driven tang on the palate delivered through a stream of passionfruit and pie cherry interwoven with wisps of cocoa and warm, earthy notes. The ever-present spice notes are joined by dry, mouth-watering, crunchy red fruit on the mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. Outstanding sipped on its own, divine with charcouterie—spiced olives, sharp cheese and spicy deli meats. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 ‘The Parson’ Shiraz won a trophy at the 2016 ‘The Great Australian Shiraz Challenge’ and a Gold Medal at the Royal Adelaide Show, also in 2016. Fruit was gently pressed and fermented then allowed eight days on skins before maturing in tight-grained, well-seasoned French oak.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chapel Hill ‘The Parson’ Shiraz 2016
McLaren Vale $19.95 14.5% alcohol
This is very good value with plenty to offer—purity of fruit, balanced on a pin and structure delivered in a drink-me-now style. Grilled savory herb, piquant spice and perfumed floral notes provide segue for a rich wave of palate-coating flavour—boysenberry and blueberry interweaving with wisps of mixed spice and underpinned with soft, ripe tannin. It’s medium-plus bodied with complexity, balance and a long, lip-smacking aftertaste—well matched with burgers, red pizza, steak and gourmet sausage. (Vic Harradine)

• Small vineyard lots for the following 2014 Chapel Hill Shiraz were picked and fermented separately on skins a minimum 8 days in open-top fermenters then gently basket pressed and barrel aged in 600 L French hogsheads, 20% new for 18 months, racked and returned periodically then bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chapel Hill Shiraz 2014
McLaren Vale $30.00 14.5% alcohol
Savory-laced aromas of floral notes and berry fruit set the table for a smorgasbord of structured and complex flavour from this medium-plus bodied, generously textured gem. A wide swath of boysenberry and tangy black currant envelop the palate decorated with piquant spice and oodles of charm. There is persistent purity of fruit and a lingering dry finish of crunchy, red berry fruit. Pour with grilled rack of lamb. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit sourced for the following Chapel Hill 2014 ‘The Parson’ Cabernet Sauvignon was open-top fermented, left on skins up to 9 days with daily plunging before basket pressed and matured in tight-grain French oak barrel with regular racking.

**** drink or cellar
Chapel Hill ‘The Parson’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
McLaren Vale $19.95 14.5% alcohol
Aromas of dark berry fruit mingle with minty and floral notes on the nose of this full bodied, nicely textured Aussie Cab. Black and red currant, black licorice and sweet vanilla coat the palate carried along on a tight taut underpinning of still-resolving tannin and excellent acidity. You could drink now after a three-hour aeration/decant knowing there are great rewards to be reaped for careful, short-term cellaring—pour 2019 to 2023. (Vic Harradine)

****1/2 drink or cellar
Chapel Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
McLaren Vale $30.00 14.5% alcohol
This Cab Sauv was sourced from carefully selected McLaren Vale fruit and produced only six barrels—from the best of the best. Red berry fruit, savory herb and gamy notes introduce a well-balanced, well-structured river of tangy red currant, pie cherry and cranberry cascading over the palate interwoven with cassis and dark plum compote. It finishes dry and mouth-watering with a boatload of elegance and charm. (Vic Harradine)

• In the following Chapel Hill 2014 ‘The Vicar’, small-lot, vineyard plots were harvested, gently pressed and fermented a minimum 12 days in small-batch open fermenters. Following basket-pressing, wine was matured 20 months in barrel with periodic rack and return then bottled un-fined and un-filtered.

***** drink or cellar
Chapel Hill ‘The Vicar’ Shiraz 2014
McLaren Vale $55.00 14.5% alcohol
This is stunning Shiraz showcasing balance, persistent purity of fruit, firm structure, and complexity. Aromas of peppery spice, grilled savory herbs and gamy notes herald a teeth-staining, palate-coating mouthful of delectable flavour—black currant and ripe black plum interwoven with mixed spice framed by mouth-watering, balancing acidity. The finish and aftertaste are monumentally long. There are +15 years ahead and it’s drinkable now after a three-hour aeration/decant. (Vic Harradine) 

Coriole Vineyards

Mark Lloyd, General Manager Paul Lloyd, Business Manager Alex Sherrah, Senior Winemaker

Coriole Vineyards began in 1967 under the ownership of Hugh and Molly Lloyd and is still owned by the Lloyd family, now managed by the father/son team of Mark and Paul Lloyd—son and grandson of Hugh and Molly—with Alex Sherrah as their winemaker. The first Coriole wine was released in 1970. The original vineyards on the estate were planted in 1919 while the farmhouses, built in 1860, have housed the cellar-door tasting room for over forty years with its slate roof and slate floors and the fabulous English-country style gardens—first planted in the 1860s—near its enchanting entrance. They’re well known for their broad portfolio of value-laden, fine wine with their ‘Mary Kathleen Reserve Cabernet/Merlot’ listed in the prestigious, ‘Langton’s Classification of Australian Fine Wines’. 

There’s more to Coriole than growing grapes, making and marketing wine. They’re prominent supporters of the arts with annual, winery-based events—‘Coriole Music Festival’, ‘Shakespeare in the Vines’, ‘Here’s to Now’ and ‘Spring Affair’. They farm sustainably—regenerating native vegetation, soil bio-management with compost teas and green manures, recycling water, minimal intervention in winemaking, and have begun an initiative to farm organically. They’re also well known for Mark’s pioneering, prescient planting of Italian grape varieties—Fiano, Sangiovese and others starting as far back as 1985—with resultant wines turning heads and garnering praise from wine judges and wine critics.

Coriole Music Festival 2016

 

• The following 57% Sangiovese/43% Shiraz blend showcases Sangiovese fruit sourced from +30-year-old, estate-grown vines. Mark Lloyd, General Manager/past winemaker at Coriole, is a true pioneer in recognizing and planting vines of Italian origin in McLaren Vale, South Australia. The painting on the wine label of the following wine is by Mark Lloyd’s mother, Mary (Molly) Kathleen Lloyd.

Coriole Vineyards Sangiovese/Shiraz 2016****1/2 drink or cellar
Coriole Vineyards Sangiovese/Shiraz 2016
McLaren Vale $27.00 14.5% alcohol
Lifted aromas of black pepper, red fruit and wisps of floral notes open this medium-weight, well-textured, balanced beauty. There’s persistent purity of fruit with strawberry/rhubarb and tangy red currant adorned with spice and savory herbs dazzling the palate infusing the lip-smacking finish and aftertaste—ready to drink now and simply delicious. Pour with a deli board and baguette—spicy olives, mortadella, capicola and Provolone cheese. (Vic Harradine)

• With the first commercially produced Fiano in Australia in 2005, Coriole Vineyards owner/winemaker Mark Lloyd has been proven quite a visionary, producing wines such as the following excellent Fiano from the 2016 vintage. It’s a low-yielding variety with pronounced aromas and flavours. It has also become more widely planted in Australia.

****1/2 drink now
Coriole Vineyards Fiano 2016
McLaren Vale $27.00 13.0% alcohol
Lemon, floral notes and buckwheat honey aromas abound on the nose of this crisp and refreshing Fiano. It’s medium bodied and carries flavours of mandarin orange, Key lime and notions of nutty notes along on a line of tang-laden acidity. Finishing dry and mouth-watering, give this a go with freshly shucked, briny Malpec oysters under a squeeze of fresh lemon or with prawn ceviche. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2012 Optimist Reserve was sourced from single-vineyard, estate-grown, 35-year-old Chenin Blanc vines

****1/2 drink now
Coriole Vineyards ‘The Optimist - Reserve’ Chenin Blanc 2012
McLaren Vale $28.00 12.5% alcohol
Exotic aromas of citrus, incense and tropical fruit are precursors to a surge of palate-coating, tang-laden flavour with mandarin orange, Key lime and honeyed stone fruit riding a spirited line of clean and refreshing acidity. It’s medium bodied with textured mouthfeel and a lingering, lip-smacking finish. It’s ready to drink now and lovely to sip on its own or poured with lemon chicken or prawn and chorizo paella. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Coriole Vineyards Negroamaro, an indigenous red grape from southern Italy, is now grown almost exclusively in Apulia, in particular, Salento—the heel of the Italian boot. It can produce incredibly dark-coloured, red wine.

****1/2 drink now
Coriole Vineyards Negroamaro 2016
McLaren Vale $27.00 13.5% alcohol
This is Coriole’s first bottling of this varietal; it was fermented in open-top, bees-wax-lined, concrete fermenters and hand plunged. Ruby hued and quite aromatic—mixed spice and red berry fruit spill freely from the glass of this balanced and beautiful red wine. A gorgeous mélange of tangy red fruit—crunchy raspberry and ripe, juicy cherry—cascade over the palate adorned by piquant spice and great élan. It finishes lengthy with oodles of lip-smacking-good, racy fruit flavour. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Nero d’Avola was added to the Coriole stable recently proving a runaway winner with previous vintages capturing Gold medals and Trophies by the armful. It was whole-berry fermented in small, open-topped, beeswax-lined concrete vats and spent time maturing in well-seasoned oak barrel.

**** drink now
Coriole Vineyards ‘Nero’ Nero d’Avola 2016
McLaren Vale $25.00 14.0% alcohol
Peppery spice and savory herb aromas abound on this medium-weight flavourful red. It coats the palate with a red and black currant laced with piquant spice and black licorice persistent and pure through the lingering, mouth-watering finish and aftertaste. There’s deft balance and good structure with ripe, soft tannin adding interest. Pour with pastitsio, manicotti or pasta and Bolognese sauce. (Vic Harradine)

• The majority of fruit for the following 2015 estate-grown Shiraz was sourced from vines with an average age of approximately 40 years.

****1/2 drink now
Coriole Vineyards ‘Estate Grown’ Shiraz 2015
McLaren Vale $28.95 14.5% alcohol
This opens with an involved nose of peppery spice and sweet vanilla mingling with berry fruit aromas. An explosion of juicy, tangy fruit blankets the palate with ripe mulberry, racy red cherry and perceptible, fine-grained tannin infusing the long, dry finish. Aerate/decant three hours or twist tops 2019 to 2025—there’s a lot of life, maturity and excellent sipping ahead. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Coriole ‘Reserve’ is named for one of the founders, Mary Kathleen Lloyd. It was hand harvested from three small, estate vineyards and is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Coriole ‘Mary Kathleen - Reserve’ Cabernet/Merlot 2013

McLaren Vale $40.95 (745489) 14.5% alcohol
It’s early days in the bottle development of this premium red blend. A subdued nose offers savory herb, baking spice and dark berry fruit aromas Delectable ripe fruit—currant, blueberry and black cherry, interlaced with racy tang—passion fruit and cranberry, still-evolving tannin and a world of promise envelop the palate for now. It’s full bodied and full flavoured—to enjoy to its fullest, open 2020 to 2030. (Vic Harradine)

• The following two ultra-premium Shiraz were hand picked from single-vineyard, dry-grown, Coriole estate vines planted in 1919. This wine is listed in the ‘Excellent’ category of the vaunted ‘Langton’s Classification of Australian Fine Wines. They were matured in French-oak barrel 18 months and bottle-aged another 12 before release.

***** cellar
Coriole Vineyards ‘Lloyd Reserve’ Shiraz 2012
McLaren Vale $100.00 14.5% alcohol
The 2012 Lloyd Reserve is opaque and highly scented—aromas of sweet vanilla, black plum and cedar leap from the glass. It showcases full-on fruit flavour, excellent tang, firm structure, depth and complexity. A broad swath of ripe, sweet briary berry and juicy black cherry intertwined with dark bittersweet chocolate and earthy notes coat the palate persisting through the monumentally lengthy finish and aftertaste. Pour 2019 to 2035

***** cellar
Coriole Vineyards ‘Lloyd Reserve’ Shiraz 2013
McLaren Vale $100.00 14.5% alcohol
Peppery spice, oaky notes and sweet vanilla aromas provide segue for persistent purity of fruit and a beautifully structured and balanced Shiraz. It’s full bodied with good mouthfeel and considerable depth and concentration in the juicy, crunchy, palate-enveloping flavour—pie cherry and red currant interwoven with savory herbs and earthiness. Dark cherry/berry fruit evolves on the back palate and it finishes with solid tannin underpinning framed by excellent tang. Cellar carefully, 2020 to 2030, pouring with grilled, seasoned strip loin. (Vic Harradine)

Wits End

• Wines are labeled ‘Chalk Hill’ in Australia, but in Canada and the U.S. they’re labeled ‘Wits End’ and ‘Alpha Crucis’ in deference to the ‘Chalk Hill’ winery in Sonoma County, California.

Jock Harvey Tom Harvey

Wits End is a McLaren Vale, premium, family-owned and managed winery of 6th-generation, South Australian, Harvey family members—Jock and Tom Harvey. The brothers have deep roots and current tendrils entwined with the wine industry growing up in the family wine business, taking study trips, working in wineries abroad, gaining wine-specific University degrees and rolling up their sleeves working as vigneron and viticulturist. Tom is presently Director and past Chair of the McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism Association.

Renae Hirsch - Wits End winemaker

Renae Hirsch, has been responsible for winemaking at Wits End since 2015. Her goal is to, ‘make wine that shows purity of fruit with varietal, regional and vineyard characteristics’. The Harveys own and manage vineyards originally planted in 1897 that are on own rootstock and are still bearing fruit. Fruit is farmed and certified organic as well as using some biodynamic methods.

• Indigenous to Italy, the white grape Fiano is becoming more popular in South Australia as plantings have recently flourished there. The following 2016 Fiano recently won a ‘Gold Award - Judged with Food’ at the Sydney International Wine Competition.

**** drink now
Wits End Fiano 2016
McLaren Vale $25.00 13.0% alcohol
Exotic spice and honeyed aromas abound, precursors to a medium-weight, beautifully textured river of mandarin orange, pear and marzipan framed with racy, citrus tang. It races over the palate with great élan persisting with purity of fruit infusing the mouth-watering, lip-smacking finish and aftertaste. Pour with grilled or pan-seared seafood. (Vic Harradine)

• Fruit for the following 2016 Wits End Vermentino was sourced from a 13-year-old, single-vineyard, five-acre plot. Vermentino, a white grape widely planted in Italy, is now gaining vineyard plantings in Languedoc, France as well as South Australia.

****1/2 drink now
Wits End Vermentino 2016
McLaren Vale $20.00 12.0% alcohol
Aromas of tropical fruit, floral and straw notes swirl from the nose of this mid-weight delectable gem. Key lime, lemon curd and mineral flavours ride a tang-laden spine of mouth-watering acidity from twist top to last drop. This spent a brief time on its lees, with partial stirring, after tank fermentation. There’s generous mouthfeel with a racy finish followed by a lingering, lip-smacking aftertaste. Built for early drinking, pour with prawn ceviche, pan-seared fish or mussels steamed in white wine. (Vic Harradine)

• The following is a 50% Grenache/36% Tempranillo/14% Graciano red blend.

**** drink or cellar
Wits End Grenache - Tempranillo 2015
McLaren Vale $20.00 14.0% alcohol
Leaping from the glass with lively aromas of piquant spice and red berry fruit, this streaks over the palate with a surge of crunchy red fruit—red currant, pie cherry and passion fruit—garnished with dark plum and a boatload of mixed spice. This is medium-bodied with good texture and blessed with a long, tang-laden finish. Pour this drink-me-now red with manicotti, pasta Bolognese or Swiss steak. (Vic Harradine)

• The following 2015 Luna Shiraz was sourced from low-yielding fruit from an outstanding vintage and three premium, organically farmed vineyards. It fermented and aged separately before blending after maturation for 15 months in a combination of 20% new and 2nd- and 3rd-fill French oak barrels. There’s a splash of 5% Barbera fruit, as well.

****1/2 drink or cellar
Wits End ‘Luna’ Shiraz 2015
McLaren Vale $18.95 14.0% alcohol
This showcases good structure, purity of fruit, good balance and complexity. Aromas of black pepper, floral notes and baking spice introduce a wide swath of tangy black currant, black plum compote and bramble berry fruit decorated with piquant spice, black licorice and oodles of wonderful tang. It’s medium bodied with generous mouthfeel and lengthy, balanced and beautiful finish. Lovely on its own and ready to drink now, it also pours well with grilled beefsteak or lamb. (Vic Harradine)

• The following Alpha Crucis ‘Titan’ Shiraz is Chalk Hill’s flagship wine; it’s highly sought after and is exceptional value.

***** drink or cellar Exceptional Value!
Alpha Crucis ‘Titan’ Shiraz 2015
McLaren Vale $35.00 14.5% alcohol
Highly perfumed exotic spice and dark berry fruit waft from this full-bodied, fully textured and full-Monty flavoured Shiraz. This highlights persistent purity of fruit—red and black currant with spice-packed black plum, firm structure from fine-grained tannin and many adornments on the palate with sweet vanilla, baking spice and earthy notes to the fore. Aerate/decant this three hours pouring now to 2024 alongside premium, grilled and seasoned, beef tenderloin. (Vic Harradine)