Evonne and I recently headed over to Monte’s restaurant in Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur for the Chapel Hill wine pairing dinner organised by CSS Wines & Spirits.
The Chapel Hill Winery in McLaren Vale was built on the site of the Seaview Chapel and school house. The 1865 ironstone Chapel still proudly stands today and is an integral feature of the tasting room. Planting of the vineyard commenced in 1972 and the first vintage was in 1975. Perched on the edge of the spectacular Onkaparinga Gorge, shallow rocky soils are a feature with sweeping views back over McLaren Vale and Gulf St Vincent.
The Chapel Hill Winery is named after the iconic ironstone Chapel, built by Methodist settlers to the McLaren Vale area and officially opened on December 5, 1865. It served as a place of worship, school and social gathering spot for local farming families for a century. A special commemorative service was held on December 5, 1965 to officially close the Chapel after 100 years of use.
The Chapel began its next chapter in the early 1970’s. Boarded up and in disrepair, the historic stone building positioned high atop a ridge in Northern McLaren Vale, caught the eye of Adelaide Professor Thomas Nelson. Tom purchased the building and surrounding land from the Uniting Church and planted the first vines on the site in 1972. He worked tirelessly to methodically convert the old Chapel and add sympathetic additional spaces to the site to create a winery, offices and tasting room – the foundation for the current Chapel Hill Winery.
The growth of Chapel Hill Winery into a world-renowned wine producer was led by winemaker Pam Dunsford. Pam was a pioneering winemaker in South Australia. The first female graduate of the acclaimed winemaking course at Roseworthy in 1983, Pam’s work led to many acclaims and awards for Chapel Hill Winery, a lot of those great wines from the 1990’s are still drinking beautifully today.
Chapel Hill has had only a handful of custodians since Thomas Nelson, with the Sellick and Gerrard families adding to the rich tapestry of buildings, brand and place. The Swiss Schmidheiny family’s long-running love affair with wine led them to a dream of owning a world-class Australian winery – a dream that was realised in December 2000 when they purchased Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill celebrated its 40th consecutive vintage in 2014 and continues to produce quality wines which are available globally, and in Malaysia.
Chapel Hill Chardonnay
Corn & Potato Leek Soup with Fried Corn Silk
The light and fresh notes of the wine were a good contrast against the creamy and heartwarming soup.
The barrel fermentation and maturation has resulted in a more layered and textured palate, whilst still maintaining the trademark varietal citrus and stone fruit purity. The remainder of this light bodied wine is held cool in stainless steel tanks and on its yeast lees for 8 months prior to bottling.
Only the delicate Free Run juice fraction is utilised for this wine. 22% Natural Fermentation. 23% High Juice solids. 18% oak ageing for 4 months 2, 3, 4 year old French Oak Hogsheads.
Chapel Hill The Parson Grenache Shiraz Mourverde 2016
Tuna Tartare with Yuzu Soy Gelee and Baby Alfalfa Sprouts
This is a refines and dainty dish that’s pretty uncharacteristic of Monte’s however it was pretty delicious!
The medium bodied Parson GSM is Chapel Hill’s gateway to the classic McLaren Vale varieties with a focus on savouriness and texture, resulting in a breezy expression of these quintessential McLaren Vale varietals that is smooth, silky and fruit driven.
Below average winter rainfall resulted in an early commencement to the growing season. A warmer than average summer, with no extended periods of extreme heat, resulted in a condensed vintage. Vibrant fruit flavours and acidity were still prevalent and the resultant wines were both varietal and textural.
The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon
Wild Mushroom Custard Phyllo Tart
Loved how the earthiness of the mushrooms were complemented by the full-bodied flavours of the wine!
The full-bodied Parson Cabernet Sauvignon is Chapel Hill’s introduction to explore and enjoy the McLaren Vale variety. This wine displays expressive and alluring aromas of liquorice and mulberry. The wonderfully structured and eloquent palate is broodingly complexed by an array of persistent fine grain tannins.
To achieve the desired style and to harness the regal varietal flavours of Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes were strategically harvested to avoid any green tannins or overripe jammy fruit flavours. The subsequent open ferments were then gently plunged daily and allowed to remain on skins for up to 9 days to ensure the optimum extraction of flavour and tannin. Following basket pressing the free run and pressing fractions are combined. To promote and nurture varietal expression and complexity only well seasoned tight grained French oak was used during the maturation process. During this maturation period the wine was regularly racked to encourage the integration and mellowing of the boisterous youthful tannins.
The 2015/16 growing season had below average rainfall. Mean average temperatures were also consistently above average. A timely rainfall event in early February refreshed the vines and slowed sugar accumulation as they entered the final stages of ripening, resulting in vibrant varietal fruit flavours.
Maclaren Vale Bush Vine Grenache
Braised Beef Rib OR Pressed Lamb with Charred Brocolli & Hasselback Potato
The food at Monte’s is very rustic and hearty and both the mains reflected just that.
The history and tradition of the region can be enjoyed with a glass of this medium bodied wine that is crafted from old bush vine Grenache. These old low yielding vines result is small berries, thick skins and open bunches which deliver bright fruit flavours and a rustic savoury texture.
Each vineyard parcel was hand harvested and then fermented separately in open fermenters to facilitate a long slow gentle extraction. After basket pressing the free run and pressing fractions were combined together. The wine was coarsely racked and aged in French oak hogsheads to encourage complexity, mouth feel and tannin integration whilst still preserving the varietal purity. To preserve purity and character, the wine is unfined, doesn’t have any tannin additions and is bottled unfiltered.
The Vicar Shiraz
Dark Chocolate Flourless Torte with Mixed Berry Compote & Creme Fraiche
A full-bodied Shiraz to go with the dark chocolate flavours of the torte, adding spice notes to the deep, piquant and creamy flavours of the dessert. A decadent end to a lovely wine pairing dinner.
The full-bodied Vicar Shiraz displays charismatic layers of aniseed, rosemary and cured meats, which are seamlessly interwoven into the poised savoury texture. The harmonious balance of the cascading layers of varietal flavour, palate weight, grainy tannin and acidity will ensure that the wine will develop further complexity over the next 15 to 20 years.
The various vineyard parcels were harvested and fermented separately in small batch open fermenters. Gentle plunging was utilised for cap management and all of the ferments were left on skins for a minimum of 11 days. Following gentle basket pressing, the free run and pressing fractions were combined. During the subsequent 22 month oak maturation period, the barrels were periodically racked and returned to ensure the integration of the tannins back into the structure of the wine. To preserve purity and character the wine is made with minimal additions and is allowed to clarify naturally without the use of fining or filtration.
For more info on Chapel Hill Wines, head over to https://www.chapelhillwine.com.au/
Chapel Hill Wines are distributed in Malaysia by CSS Wines & Spirits Sdn Bhd. For more info, head over to http://www.chuasongseng.com/ or telephone +603 6188 3303