McLaren Vale Wines – The Good Doctors Tonic

The Good Doctors Tonic

The good doctor is actually Doctor Matt who works and lives in McLaren Vale.  He has loved wine for a long time and had also harbored a dream of producing and selling his own wine.  The romantic notion of making his own wine was also triggered when he became friends with a local winemaker (Justin Lane from Alpha Box & Dice).  At the time Justin was running a facility that was tailored towards individuals making small volumes of their own wine and from then on Matt was hooked.  Another fate filled decision was based on a conversation of the sort of wine Matt wanted to make.  Surprise, surprise the response was Grange Hermitage – something that had structure to provide long term cellaring.  To do this both high tannin and acid would be required.  In the warm climate that is McLaren Vale the thoughts were directed to what grape variety would be the basis of this tannin & acid requirement – the thoughts went towards Tannat.  Tannat produces very tannic wines and in warm climates produces good fruit flavors while still retaining lots of natural acid.  Here was a marriage made in the doctors  surgery.

The wines sell for $A40/bottle and they are sold into UK and Canada – interestingly it cannot be sold in America as they have a problem with Doctor & Tonic being on the label and that this is promoting wine leads to good health!  Not on by the American importers and legislators – please, don’t be so serious.

Doctor Matt has really caught the wine bug – he now owns a vineyard in Willunga and is planning to build a house and transplant some of the vines to Tannat -has he got it bad or what?

You can check out the web site at

I must admit I enjoyed the wine but I also enjoyed the company of a passionate wine man.

2006 The Good Doctors Tonic

The finished wine was made as a blend of a hogshead each of Tannat, Cabernet & Shiraz, and one of the barrels was American Oak.  The Tannat from a vineyard at Kuptio, Cabernet from McLaren Vale and the Shiraz from Sellicks Beach.  The aromas were very closed initially, even thought the wine was opened for an hour before the tasting.  I was able to go back and re-taste this wine over a period of 2 hours and the aromas opened up markedly during that time.  By the end I got some sweetness (from the American Oak), some Capsicum and a real savory finish.  The flavors showed a black denseness with tar characters.  There is plenty of tannins and acids here mixed with fennel and the sweetness of the American Oak.

2007 The Good Doctors Tonic

The Good Doctor was not fully happy with the sweetness of the American Oak from the 2006 wine and this was the focus of change for the next wine.  The grapes for the wine were from different vineyards to the 2006.  The Tannat can from a Sand Road Vineyard, the Cabernet from Willunga and the Shiraz from Paracombe in the Adelaide Hills all in the ratio 40%/35%/25%.  This time 100% French Oak of which about 50% was new oak.  Thebug must have really caught on as The Good Doctor made 3 times the amout of wine from this vintage than from the previous, a full 300 dozen.

The aromas were so different than the 2006 – there was a blackness here with cardamon spices and an interesting chamomile soap tone.  The flavors have Blackcurrent beginnings that slip into a dense amalgam of fennel and acid with an envelop of tannin.  This wine is just “tannins all the way”.

2008 The Good Doctors Tonic

All the grapes were picked after the heat that framed the 2008 vintage.  The Tannat was again from the Sand Road vineyard, the Cabernet was from McLaren Flat and the Shiraz was this time from the Barossa.  The ratio od the final wine was 45%/35%/20% respectfully.  The Cabernet was totally fried from the vintage and the resultant wine was looking more like port than a table wine.  Then with a streak of brilliance – or was it wanting to try anything to make the wine better, the wine was passed through some grape skins from the next vintage – the Ripasso style.

The overall output showed stewed ripe black fruits on the nose.  This continued with the flavors of ripeness.  The tannin structure was not there and the flavor profile was significantly shorter than the 2007.  The wine is a result of the vintage but is considered more friendly to drink now than the other wines.  It is interesting that in a tasting lineup the other 2 wines are not as friendly to drink now but has the structure to last for a considerable time and drink very well.  In this line up the 2008 is often picked as the wine to drink now.

About Lonely Grape

Passionate about wine - particularly McLaren Vale wines. Check out my blog on different winery reviews and my wine sales web site
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2 Responses to McLaren Vale Wines – The Good Doctors Tonic

  1. Bianca says:

    I’d love to get in touch with the winemaker of The Good Doctor’s Tonic. We recently bought a whole lot to give to a group or doctors at an event and it went down so well. I would like to interview the doctor and ask if he would be interested in doing a feature story in our newsletter.

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