I had tasted Paul Petanga wines at the 2009 Vale Cru tasting at the Victory Hotel, however I could not remember too much about the wines as they were one of the last tried on the day. I tried about 45 wines that day and my palate was totally stuffed by the end of the day. I hooked up with Paul on Twitter and so I though a new investigation into Petagna Wines was required.
The vineyard and winery shed are located just off South Road near the Victory Hotel, right in the Sellicks Beach sub region of McLaren Vale. His vines were planted in 1998 and are made up of 2 different Shiraz clones (1654 and 1127). The vines are carefully tendered by Paul – I am sure he knows each vine by name.
One quickly gets a sense that Paul is doing things his way in the vineyard and the relatively small shed that acts as the winery. Quickly I felt very comfortable with Paul and his surroundings just like I was a long term friend. Paul is obviously very proud at what he is doing and likes the opportunity to talk about it – we are tared with the same brush and at times it was difficult as we were talking over each other. I need to work on my listening skills.
The names and some of the wine labels are different in a good sort of way – see for yourself.
Petagna Wine has a web site – which at time of writing is under construction, but it has Paul’s contact details.
So I do not repeat myself during the reviews I need to explain a theme in the wines. Firstly, they are massive wines but have lovely complexity and structure. These wines need time, both in the bottle and a decanter before serving, to ensure you get the best from Paul’s investment. Secondly, the grapes have all come from the Sellicks Hill sub-region of the McLaren vale area. If you ever want to understand the differences in the wines from this region, then these wines are a great start. Thirdly, I will mention Muskiness on the nose of all the wines – this is not a stale smell but that you get from those pink musk lollies I can remember from my youth. Fourthly, the wines have relatively little free sulphur dioxide (approximately 7 ppm free compared to a normal level of about 30 ppm). Contact with air is encouraged with these wines – Paul even “splashes” the wines about every few months. Fifthly, the food matches are all strong flavored foods such as slow cooked meats or game (except for the Rosato). Sixthly, the wines see considerable oak time (about 3 years except for the Rosato), this oak is normally older oak (more than 3 years old) so the oak influence is not as strong as first expected.
2006 Valletta ($A25)
This wine is a Grenache & Shiraz blend that has been in barrel for 3 years. Time has been kind to this wine infusion. Well the musk lolly smell is here and I cannot remember smelling this quite the same before so it is such a surprise. An aniseed infusion into the dark fruits here with a vanilla hit on the back of the nose. The palate shows darker fruits than I expected from a Grenache based wine but this is not what draws you to the wine – the strength but elegance is absolutely intriguing and so is the fennel based finish to such a blend. I was concerned with the 3 years in oak, but I should not have as it is just part of the wine.
2006 Dio ($A40)
A Grenache (70%), Shiraz (30%) and Mourvedre (10%) blend and what another joy. Dio means God – there is nothing more behind this name that it is the sister wine to Diavolo, which means Devil. Here we have the musk lolly smell, with more obvious red fruits (red currents) and the familiar fennel linger on the back of the nose. Paul tells me this wine has a relatively high volatile acid level which would also increase the “funkyness” on the nose. Again, this is a big wine but has a silky finish that includes a real floral and perfume element which I would expect comes from the Mourvedre.
2006 Piombo ($A45)
The Piombo is a single vineyard Shiraz from Paul’s vineyards. The musk and fennel elements are here again but this time combined with blackberry and leather, with the fruit components seem to be “lifted” above the more subtle elements. The palate is an explosion of black fruits with fennel and cardamon that just sticks around creating a long long after taste. Plenty of acid here to make this wine well structured and I just want to consume steak when I think of this wine.
2006 Diavolo ($A40)
The Diavolo is the flagship wine (I like them all so much so I am not so sure this needs to the flagship) and I say bring on the Shiraz Cabernet belnds (70%:30%). This blend was an Australian concoction to use Shiraz to fill the middle palate of Cabernet Sauvignon. These wines seem to disappear as we all became obsessed with varietal based wines ie going from an Australian Burgundy to a Cabernet Sauvignon. Good to get rid of the “Burgundy” labels but did we have to go away from the blends that worked so well? I should get back to this wine – the usual black fruits here with fennel and vanilla components. On drinking I thought here is the minty Cabernet showing us the way. Boy was I wrong – Paul showed my some of the 2007 Shiraz from the same vineyard (still in oak) and this was very minty. The mintyness was so strong that he only uses less than 5% of wine from this vineyard in the blend or it overpowers the whole wine. There is plenty of complexity, with the black fruits, mintyness, silky tannins that the wine feels almost viscous and had a lingering mouthfeel as well as lingering flavors.
2006 Rosato (price not determined)
This wine has not been bottled as yet (probably due to cash flow constraints) and was another bolt out of the blue. The wine is light in colour, but showing some brown tinges (maybe oxidative) and was served cold. When Paul asked me it I wanted to try something different, there was no way I was expecting this! The nose showed real mushroom, barnyard stinkyness with hints of strawberries. My mind went straight to the word “feral” to describe it – somewhat old world. I was not sure I should drink it when I first saw it, but the smell told me something different was happening here – so I tried it. Again a surprise, here was a cold infusion of red fruits with a dry finish that I was drinking rather cold! I could say no more that to inquire – “What the hell is this?” Again the answer was not as expected – this wine is mainly Grenache with some Chardonnay added. Paul also told me he has given some of this to his beer drinking friends on a hot day and they have come back for more – this concept was the driver for the wine. Paul wanted to make a wine that he would like to drink at the end of a long hot day – instead of having a beer. All I can say is that if I could buy a few botles of this I would be saying pass the Rosato