Chapel Hill’s 2014 McLaren Vale Shiraz marks another high water mark for this outstanding property. Garnering from Wine Advocate 92+ Points, the deeply colored 2014 Chapel Hill McLaren Valle Shiraz offers an impressive array of savory aromas: a core of blackberry and mulberry fruits infused with forest woodlands, wild herbs, and cracked black pepper wafts from the glass. Full-bodied and concentrated but without the heavy jammy flavors that detract from many lesser South Australian offerings, Chapel Hill’s 2014 McLaren Vale Shiraz not only reveals Michael Fragos’ acumen with Shiraz, it once again highlights McLaren Vale’s superb terroir. Although it is built to last and will almost certainly continue its upward trajectory with additional time in bottle, Chapel Hill’s 2014 McLaren Vale Shiraz delights now. For immediate consumption, afford the 2014 Chapel Hill McLaren Vale an hour or more of aeration and serve it at cool room temperature (about 60° F).
Although the 2014 Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz needs little to shine, this youthful Shiraz provides the ideal accompaniment to grilled filet mignon and beef tenderloin served with grilled portabella mushrooms and caramelized onions. Lamb stew or lamb and vegetable kebobs grilled over hot coals with wild herbs offer more tasty pairings. A spicy brisket and fried onion slider makes a fine accompaniment too. Smoked ribs and specialty burgers offer more excellent pairings. For an explosive combination, consider a juicy beef or buffalo burger with roasted poblano pepper, pickled red onion, pepper jack cheese and jalapeño aioli. Homemade lasagna and Eggplant Parmigiana also make rewarding partners to Chapel Hill’s Shiraz. And should a glass of the 2014 Chapel Hill McLaren Vale Shiraz remain after dinner, we suggest you finish it in the company of creamy, un-crusted cheeses. You will be glad you did. Enjoy!
Two decades ago we discovered the artfully crafted wines of Chapel Hill winery and featured several of Chapel Hill’s exceptional McLaren Vale Shiraz wines. But after a stint in which Pam Dunsford, the first women graduate of Australia’s prestigious school of oenology at Roseworthy, brought Chapel Hill to international prominence with Gold Medals at the prestigious London International Wine and Spirit Competition and the International Wine Challenge in London, Chapel Hill’s wines seemed to all but vanish from the American market. Happily, under the current leadership of Chief Winemaker and McLaren Vale native Michael Fragos, Chapel Hill wines are once again available and are even more complex and engaging than ever.
Chapel Hill draws its name from the historic stone chapel built on the property in 1865, which has served as a local church, a parish school and now the winery’s cellar door and art gallery that features the work of talented local contemporary and indigenous artists.
Under Michael Fragos (IW&SC 2007 International Winemaker of the Year), Winemaker Bryn Richards and Viticulturist Rachel Steer, Chapel Hill has solidified its position as one of South Australia’s top wineries. Chapel Hill owns and operates 44 hectares (about 109 acres) of vineyards in South Australia’s famed McLaren Vale appellation and purchases fruit from a select group of McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills growers. Shiraz reigns as king at Chapel Hill as it does throughout McLaren Vale, but Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese also pay homage to the extraordinary success of this winery. And, with the addition of fruit from the nearby, cooler Adelaide Hills, Chapel Hill fashions a number of outstanding white wines, which further account for Chapel Hill’s preeminence among McLaren Vale producers.
Whether we refer to this great varietal as Shiraz or Syrah, we are talking about the same illustrious grape. Shiraz has been grown for centuries in the Rhône Valley of France, where it is responsible in all or part for many of the greatest red wines of France (Hermitage, Côte Rôtie and Châteauneuf-du-Pape specifically). The grape’s exact origin remains a matter of debate, yet historians agree that it was brought to Europe from the Middle East, most likely from the area around the ancient city of Heraz whose name closely resembles that of Shiraz. From there Shiraz somehow made its way to the south of France and centuries later to Australia, California, and around the world.
McLaren Vale is one of South Australia’s most important wine growing appellations. It is also a region rich in history and rightfully covets its reputation as the birthplace of the Australian wine industry. Enhanced by its proximity to Adelaide as well as its superb climate, Mediterranean beauty, food, wine, and art culture, McLaren Vale thrives as a viticultural area as well as an important tourist destination. Most importantly, McLaren Vale is renowned for the quality, power and grace of its wines, many of which emanate from some of the world’s oldest vines.
Nestled between rolling hills and a picturesque coastline, McLaren Vale’s Mediterranean climate has created ideal conditions for the cultivation of red varietals, especially Shiraz, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Moreover, McLaren Vale has become a leader in environmentally sustainable viticulture.
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