The Marion Vineyard
By Franz Scheurer
We visited the Richard Hamilton vineyard on a recent trip to the McLaren Vale. I always had a soft spot for their Shiraz, finding it extremely good value for money and a good example of the terroir, but for some reason or other, had never made it to their cellar door.
It was early morning, we were the only ones at the cellar door, giving us a chance to seriously try all the wines on offer and chat to the very knowledgeable staff.
One wine stood out, the Marion Vineyard Grenache Shiraz, which I had never seen before. This wine stands alone, both in style and in appeal. Full bodied, yet supremely elegant, it surprises with an incredibly peppery and spicy nose with a hint of red berries. On the palate the spiciness is confirmed with soft tannins, an all-encompassing mouthfeel and an incredibly long finish. It has depth, it has spice, it has fruit, it has supreme earthiness with feral overtones and it has that meaty textural mouthfeel that I so love in a red wine. The Marion Vineyard Grenache Shiraz is a limited release Single Vineyard Reserve wine produced under the Richard Hamilton label from the Marion Vineyard in suburban Adelaide.
The Marion Vineyard is one of the few remaining suburban vineyards in the world and certainly one of the oldest. Plantings date back to 1837 and comprised 156 acres with 5,000 tonnes of grapes being harvested in its heyday. It was gradually invaded by suburban development in the 1960s and 70s until the Oaklands Road site was sold to Marion Council in 1972. It lay unused and largely neglected for decades until a combined effort by Marion Council and Richard Hamilton Wines returned the vineyard to its former glory in the early 1990s. The first crop was harvested in 1994 and Richard Hamilton Wines has managed the day to day operation since that time. It is from these grapes that the Marion Vineyard Grenache Shiraz is made, creating a unique opportunity to repay the community for its patience. This is an important site, culturally and socially, and of great significance to the wine industry, giving us a window back to the very settlement of the district by the pioneering forefathers and first Europeans in South Australia. The vineyard is carefully pruned and picked by hand with limited use of sprays and a focus towards organic viticulture for weed, disease and pest control to minimise any impact on the environment and the local community, resulting in low yielding vines producing quality fruit and ultimately super premium wine. To quote Richard Hamilton: “This vineyard is 97 years old and it is probably the 95th crop from these old buggers, not too many vineyards have survived so long!” Once a year the Marion City Council, Richard Hamilton Wines and the local community get together to celebrate Vintage Day. They certainly have something to celebrate!
For more information or orders:
The Hamilton Group
Willunga SA 5172
Tel.: 08 8556 2288