The country north of South Australia’s capital Adelaide always reminds me of a stark landscape. Nothing is lush, just dry, and where the eucalypts struggle to grow bigger and the saltbush barely fattens a sheep. And kangaroos scarce. Near the sleepy town of Riverton in the Mount Lofty Ranges, 80 kilometres from Adelaide we find the vineyard of Macaw Creek owned by career winemaker Rodney Hooper.
Tough and dry is an excellent outlook for growing signature Australian shiraz and cabernet, and after all, another heroic red wine producing region to the north, the Clare Valley does likewise. This means the wines are substantial, and in their favour, grape growers have such lean rainfall events that growing their crops organically is quite an easy task (with control though).
If you ever wish to assess how a winemaker is tracking then never head for the newest release; yes they will look fresh and bursting with grape pip exuberance, but that is expected because in every older bottle there was once a good young bottle.
MACAW CREEK Reserve Shiraz Cabernet 2008 AUD 28 14.5% alc 90.Very serious smelling wine; deep colour and lots of aging in motion, some youth but the licorice tells you shiraz is present and lots of it! Look out for the sweet aromas from time in bottle, red fruits, berry jam, oak barrel sweet nuance and many other nose-endearing bits that attract drinkers wishing for full flavour. The shiraz dominates-well really! In the warm summer and Gilbert Valley autumn when these grapes will have developed their power, so the shiraz richness has just stretched out over the cabernet dryness; makes the wine very full. Drink while you eat bbq rib eye or share a tomahawk steak, bone-in, just for extra flavour; as the wine will match it. Also known as a Great Australian red.
MACAW CREEK Cabernet Shiraz 2009 AUD 16 13% alc 95. A hero’s drink because this has charm, and has aged even better than its older cousin, Shiraz Cabernet. The wine has all the aromas running together, so one complete unit; earthy, mocha, spice, choc-chip, more spiced than jam-sweet, very intriguing; a top wine; then the shiraz enrichens the mouth while the cabernet tannin tightens up the finish; one lovely drink with mixes of age flavours and supple texture; just runs down an empty mouth.
MACAW CREEK Cabernet Shiraz 2012 AUD 16 14.5% alc 94. The modern day star; just so attractive-purple, the juicy aromas are all out of the glass, hard to contain, just ripe shiraz and cabernet looking for appreciation; no charm just brute flavour, oak hardly apparent, full some, chunky, rich for years I think. Store a bit or visit Rodney’s cellar in Macaw Road in about five years (he will probably have some still). But at the current price it is a steal.
MACAW CREEK Organic Riesling 2014 AUD 15 12% alc 90. Never visit this part of South Australia (personally or with your mouse) without trying riesling. This comes from two organically-grown Clare vineyards; so it is the heart of Riesling country; light bodied, pale, low alcohol, fruity, long, angular acidity which is slaty and citric. Seek out some oysters or just pan fried whiting. Delicate wine for subtle food.
EM’S TABLE Organic Riesling 2014 AUD 15 12% alc 90. This is another Clare Valley cracker; pale colour, I never like it very coloured, so pale green, hints of straw designates good winemaking, and to top that off, lovely rose, white flowers and lemon/lime make this delectable. Light bodied, and little residue on its skins from organic viticulture. Drink with organic plums or nectarines to keep in sync.
EM’S TABLE Organic Preservative Free Shiraz 2010 AUD 18 13.5% 90. Made for those who have an allergic reaction to sulphur dioxide or for those who take an aversion to wine additives. This is additive free wine; cleverly made by Hooper to last by making a wine quite high in drinkable tannin (natural preservative) and bottled early to stem any oxidation from time outside a bottle. Also supported by closure under screw cap as natural cork would be hopeless. Taste; just like normal shiraz, rounded, quite funky now as a five-year-old wine, rich and juicy.