Sometimes, just because it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck….it’s not always a duck. In this case, St Mary’s wines are located on V&A Lane, Penola. Yep, that’s a very famous address in the Coonawarra district. But St Mary’s falls outside the recognised GI of Coonawarra. There was a long and drawn out case where the Mulligan family (who established and still run St Mary’s) and others, argued about who should (or shouldn’t) fall within the boundary lines of the famous “Terra Rossa Strip”, which is a mere 16km long and 1.8km at its widest. Captured here in a piece by Gary Edmond and published in the Adelaide Law Review in 2006, it leaves them in GI Purgatory, with the best option being to state Limestone Coast on the labels. Leaving all that aside, St Mary’s only use estate grown grapes from Terra Rossa soils. They’ve also established 300 acres of native bush as wildlife sanctuary for rare and endangered species. All wines available to purchase from the website.
St Mary’s Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Limestone Coast, 2013
Cork seal. Lightly coloured garnet and richer meatier pinot nose. Young rosemary stalks over dark forest fruits, fresh paté with elements of stewing cherry with a touch of pencil eraser/rubber. Got some chunk, not scared of its origins. This is full frontal Pinot Noir. On the plus size, Big and meaty. Monster cherries (like the ones we here in AU export overseas to lucrative Asian markets) pummel in and out of grainy tannins. Dark juice stains long as the full-ish body falls away to the textural, and somewhat elegant, ruffled pheasant’s tail…or should that be a Glossy Backed Red Tailed Black Cockatoo’s tail of flavours, remind you it’s still a Pinot Noir.
St Mary’s Vineyard, Shiraz, Limestone Coast, 2013
Cork seal. Choco mint, concentrated peppercorns over plush blood plums and blackberry with youthful tightly wound woody oak. All bibs and braces. Workman like, but not simple. It never falls to sugary concentrate, yet has a lovely ripeness to the darker fruit. The sandy tannins are like the dust on your denim at the end of the day. Sits easy in company like an old pair of jeans.
St Mary’s Vineyard, “House Block” Cabernet Sauvignon, Limestone Coast, 2013
Cork seal. Brambles and cassis. Menthol to eucalypt. Blackcurrant and pencils with almost clove spices. Ticks a lot of Cabernet boxes that you could normally mark as “Coonawarra.” It’s proper crunchy tannins, blackcurrant Cabernet. There’s a minty dominance again that blankets across the flavours, but there’s an urgency to the wine underneath. Unlike the Carillon that wants to take its time and stand tall for aeons, this feels like it has something to say and wants to say it fast. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a simple wine in which the flavour fades, that’s not the oeuvre here.
St Mary’s Vineyard, Carillon, Limestone Coast, 2013
Cork seal. A Carillon is a large percussion instrument, consisting of at least 2 octave range of bells, set in a large tower. The most famous Australian example is on Lake Burley-Griffin in Canberra. This Carillon is a wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. That mint jumps out of the glass again, along with dusty violets of Cab Franc, pencil shavings, ripe velvety Merlot plums and a distinct Blackberry leaf lift. The mint stands out for the moment…it sits first and last,along with the plump, ready to go now Merlot. But then the Cabernet brothers evoke black currant pastille and purple fruits, along with structure. Lots and lots of chunky tannin that is a portent to this wine living for a long time. Lay it down and set a calendar reminder to start thinking about opening it in 2025.
All wines samples courtesy of St Mary’s Vineyard.