Origin: McLaren Vale / South Australia / Australia
Grapes: Chenin Blanc
MMAD Vineyard is a new venture from the much-admired names behind Shaw + Smith and Tolpuddle Vineyard. It is a partnership between Shaw + Smith’s founders, Martin Shaw and Michael Hill-Smith MW, chief winemaker and CEO Adam Wadewitz and CEO David LeMire MW. For many years, this talented quartet had been searching for a site in the McLaren Vale. That ambition was realised in early 2021 when they purchased an established vineyard in Blewitt Springs, attracted by the potential of old vine Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Grenache. MMAD was conceived as an acronym of the team’s initials.
Blewitt Springs is a sought-after, high-altitude area of the McLaren Vale. It is the highest, coolest and wettest subzone and the fruit generally ripens two to three weeks later than the rest of the district. The 16.5 hectare MMAD vineyard is at 200 metres above sea level and the vines are exposed to fresh south-westerly winds blowing in from the Gulf of St Vincent. MMAD vineyard neighbours local grower Sue Trott’s fabled site, which is the source of one of Willunga’s award winning single vineyard wines. Its classic Maslin sands enhance the aromatics derived from the cooler position of Blewitt Springs.
Beneath the sands of the MMAD vineyard is a layer of ironstone pebbles. The combination of sand, ironstone and cooling winds lends both perfume and structure to the wines. Farmed under organic principles, though not certified, there are permanent mid-row cover crops, alternating with green mulch every other row. MMAD’s oldest vines, Grenache and Shiraz, were planted in 1939 and 1941 respectively, while the Chenin Blanc dates back to 1964.
Just as this team did at Tolpuddle a decade ago, their plan is to take an existing site and, through improved viticulture, transform it into an outstanding single vineyard. The potential of the vineyard is illustrated by just how good the 2021 vintage is.
The Chenin is beautifully expressive, with an arresting texture and a bright and lively acidity. The wine combines a fine-ness from the whole bunch pressed component with more texture from the crushed fruit, and an array of characters including citrus peel, kumquat, wet stone, hessian, and sea-spray. The palate is long and framed by crisp acidity, with exciting ageing potential.