Right from the start I must admit to all the Lonely Grape readers that Noon Winery is one of my all time McLaren Vale wineries. I first went there during a Bushing Festival in 1986, where the father of current owner (David Noon) was the wine maker and one of the worlds gentlemen – Clive was the cellar door manager. After the initial winery visit, when I went to McLaren Vale I would goto Noon’s last and just give them the last of my money with Clive working out how many bottles I could get. Clive had a photographic memory and thus could remember your last purchases – this with his leather fisherman hat were a part of the charm of the place. It was truly a very sad day when I found out that Clive had passed on. Another lingering memory was turning up to find David working in the winery and he asked for my help to plunge the reds in the open vats. After this help we tasted some wine and then the purchases were organised, David invited us to “have a drink”.
Anyway, I should not concentrate about the past – how about Noon Wines of the present. Drew and Reagan produce a small output of wines and distribute the wine overseas in limited quantities, they have an active Mailing List (that has a limit on quantities to buy) and the cellar door is open 3 weekends per year (during October). Last year I found 2 things. Firstly, there was a waiting list to get onto the mailing list and I heard that it could take up to 3 years to get onto the mailing list. Secondly, there is usually a line up at the cellar door for the opening weekend and thus a waiting time (that was for me – 2 hours of a joy where I got to talk to like minded passionate wine people). I also note that Noon Wines sold out of wine last year on the first weekend – they kept the cellar door open for tastings, but no purchases.
This year I was ecstatic when I found out that I had made the Noon Wines mailing list and ordered my wines the next day to make sure I could get what I wanted. As I live in McLaren Vale, I organised to pick the wine up on the first day the cellar door was open this year – so I could taste the wines as well as pick them up.
Some notes about the vineyards:-
- The estate vineyard is grenache which was planted in 1934. The vineyard is bush vine and dry grown.
- Young vines block which planted to Shiraz and Graciano (planted in 1998)
- BJ’s Block planted to Grenache
- 20 Rows Block (Langhorne Creek and planted in early 1960’s) planted with Shiraz
- Fruit Trees Block (Langhorne Creek and planted in the early 1070’s) planted with Cabernet Sauvignon
And now the wonderful McLaren Vale wines:-
2009 Rose ($A17)
A lovely light (but bright) pink colour from the overnight skins contact of this Grenache based wine. The nose is full of cherries and a slight hint of pepper right at the finish. The palate has lots of strawberries and red cherries. There is a slight bitter finish (though not unpleasant for me) coming from the relatively high alcohol for a Rose style (at 14.5% alcohol). There is a suggestion from Drew Noon that the wine can cope with a couple of years cellaring – but I do not think I will wait. This McLaren Vale dry grown Grenache wine has plenty of structure so it would go well with grilled tuna or a chinese chilli chicken dish.
2008 Twelve Bells ($A10)
The Twelve Bells wine is made to be fruit driven and to be the perfect mid week wine. I would have to agree. The wine is a Grenache (80%) and Shiraz (20%) blend and is very fruit driven. The dry grown estate Grenache shows wonderful soft fruit combined with minimal oak influences provides a wonderful soft wine to have with a big bowl of pasta, with a tomato based sauce and lots of Parmesan cheese. I am salivating at the thought of this combination.
2008 Eclpise ($A27)
The Eclipse has historically been a Grenache / Shiraz blend from the wonderful dry grown bush vines from the estate blended with some Langhorn Creek material. This year some Cabernet and estate grown Graciano has also been introduced. This blend was probably born from the low volumes of wine produced from the 2008 vintage – however the McLaren Vale weather conditions may have led to an improved outcome. The wine has a dense colour – almost black. The nose is rampid with blackcurrant and the palate is just full of black fruits. There is oak influences (American and French oak) and they are totally balanced with the other components. Sure there is 15.5% alcohol, but the fruit character is all there and there is not a “hot” finish you may expect from such an alcohol level. One thing that does strike you when you drink the wine is the wonderful almost viscous mouthfeel you get from each mouthful. If you had not guessed by now – I really liked this wine. The wine calls out to be drunk with rich casseroles such as lamb shanks with garlic and rosemary.
2008 Solaire (500 ml bottle) ($A21)
Solaire means sun in French and this wine is aptly named. The wine is a Grenache / Shiraz / late harvest Cabernet Sauvignon blend that packs a punch with 17% alcohol and these is no fortification spirit added. The grenache fruit is dominate on the nose with a real “porty” character. The Cabernet is evident on the palate with blackberry characters mixed with the plums of the Grenache. There is a sweet finish – but not too sweet. Please pass the blue vein cheese and crackers while drinking this one!