Leanne says: “This is one of the most exciting wines I’ve tried this year. I have a lot of admiration for Steve and his command and understanding of wine. He has a very clear idea of what he’s looking at with his winemaking. I’ve followed him through my career and am most excited about his expressions of Grenache. He believes – and I have to agree – that Grenache is truy McLaren Vale’s signature variety. There’s a renewed interest in Grenache in South Australia, with a particular focus on McLaren Vale for winemakers. Working with old vines and using large format oak, as Steve is doing, are Grenache’s best partners. Steve’s not afraid of tannins and does incredibly well taming them with almost a sandy character; it’s a perfect contrast to the sweet fruited nature of Grenache. He brings a savoury character and amazing structure to his wines. With Steve’s single vineyard Grenaches, there’s such a contrast and transparency between them. He’s making incredible and thoughtful wines with a very clear vision.
My family lives quite close to McLaren Vale, so you could say it’s a ‘home region’ of sorts for me. Whenever I’m back home, I’ll pop into the cellar door and grab a few bottles of Steve’s wines. ”
Born in the wine world, with his parents owning the iconic Moss Wood of Margaret River, Steve Pannell was certainly no stranger to the wine world from a very early age. His career has definitely not been one of resting on laurels from the family’s name as he has forged a path of his own. His international experience includes Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux, Domaine des Comtes Lafon in Burgundy and G.D. Vajra in Barolo, along with numerous Australian outposts including Wirra Wirra and Hardy’s Tintara, where he won the Jimmy Watson award for ‘Best Young Red Wine’ in Australia. Not content with a single ‘Jimmy’, Steve backed up his efforts again in 2014 this time with his Adelaide Hills Syrah under his eponymous label. Steve, and wife Fiona, first created the S.C. Pannell label in 2004 and have produced wines under the ethos of “wines that are grown, not made” ever since. Believing that Australia must adapt to the changing climatic conditions, Steve is an ardent believer that “Grenache will become McLaren Vale’s true wine of place”. The Old McDonald Vineyard truly exemplifies this philosophy. Located in the epicentre of McLaren Vale in Blewitt Springs, it is a 75 year old bush-vine vineyard that has been dry-grown. Steve’s approach is to truly display the specifics of the site, and as such uses a 5,000L old oak vat for maturation to retain the fruit purity. The quality of Steve’s wines speak for themselves, with wines built around tannin, structure and balanced fruit expression with Old McDonald Vineyard Grenache truly demonstrating the combination of an incredible winemaker with a very special vineyard.