Barossa Valley, South Australia
In earlier selections we have included a few of the great Grenache based wines from the Cote du Rhone in France. I was delighted when Kim suggested we look at a great winemaking team from the Barossa Valley and what they could do with this famous blend. In Australia these blends are respectfully referred to as GSM’s and they are delicious. However if not correctly handled they tend towards the fruit cake spectrum of fruit flavours and can quickly become over the top if the big and bold Barossa style is not tamed. This Massena wine however is right in the grove and whilst completely different to the wines of the Rhone valley in France, you can see the resemblance in the structure and weight.
Established in 2000, Massena is owned by Dan Standish and Jaysen Collins, who until 2006 were employed full time at other Barossa wineries, Dan as winemaker at Torbreck and Jaysen as General Manager at Turkey Flat. (A pretty impressive set of resumes).
Their initial partnership was forged over the repetitive nightly drives from the Barossa to the Clare valley whilst working a harvest in 1999. During the drive home they would often crave a soft slurpy wine to wash down a hard night’s work. From this idea, they decided to branch out on their own with a little side project and in 2000 they released their first vintage of Moonlight Run and they have never looked back.
They source their fruit from dedicated growers in the North Western Barossa areas of Greenock, Kalimna and Koonunga Hill, all from dry farmed, low yielding vines up to 120 years of age. Gaining access to this quality of fruit is never easy and will make or break any new wine project, but it was their extensive background in the region that helped them out in the early stages.
They tend to speicalise in the traditional Barossa Valley grape varieties of Shiraz and Grenache, but they also experiment with a lot of lesser known varieties (Petite Syrah, Barbera, Dolcetto and Roussanne). All their wines however show a real sense of restraint and elegance in comparison to most Barossa winemakers. However, don’t be fooled, this wine is full bodied and packed with flavour, but it is always about balance with this style of wine.
This wine is inky black, with a hint of the fruit cake character that I associate with these blends and this region; however it offers so much more. Rich and full bodied it has an underlying earthy meatiness and some spice and black cherries on the back palate that really makes this wine so enjoyable.
Grilled meats are the way to go with this wine. Steak, lamb chops, pork chops etc. Get a nice char grilled action on the meat, which will perfectly match the fruit sweetness of the Grenache. Then it is just about sitting back and enjoying the food and wine. Hopefully the company is pretty good to.
This wine has that real up front juicy, fleshy character that I really like, but it can easily cellar for another 4-5 years. But again why wait, just decant for 15 minutes before you tuck into your char grilled medium rare steak.