Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Paringa Estate Masterclass with Lindsay McCall

"Red what?" These were the words which kick started Lindsay McCall's passion for winemaking in 1974.

Last night I had the privilege of attending a Paringa Estate Masterclass hosted by owner Lindsay McCall and Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise sommelier David Stevens-Castro. We looked at a range of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz including museum stock.

With a family background in dairy farming, this is where McCall was headed too until the farm was sold. He turned to teaching and worked at schools on the Mornington Peninsula.

A chance conversation changed everything. Without any formal training or qualifications, McCall bought a derelict apple orchard in 1984 and piled all his spare cash into setting up a vineyard whilst still teaching. By the early 90's he still had chalk in his hand but managed to plant out the property. His 'learn as you go' philosophy is quite infectious as he recounted numerous experiences. Trellising and planting were all done on the run so to speak.

Cabernet and Shiraz were the first varieties in the dirt 'because that's what everyone plants' followed by Chardonnay and then Pinot (1988). All Cabernet has since been pulled out and replaced with Pinot Gris.

1987 was McCall's first vintage. Yields were incredibly lower than expected and his fermentation tank was too big for the task. After considering what he had at his disposal, a disused large fish tank was deployed. The 'learn as you go' philosophy was in full swing as the tank wouldn't retain any heat. Subsequently, an electric blanket was brought into play and wrapped around the fish tank to maintain the heat. The glamorous life of a winemaker hey?

McCall's first commercial vintage was in 1988 where his Cabernet and Shiraz scored very well and put the winery on the map. Since those formative days, the Paringa label has consistently produced high quality wines with significant success at numerous wines shows. All this from two curious words back in '74.

Some briefs tasting notes...

PE Chardonnay 2015 $27: A great entry level wine. Older oak used and the fruit does all the talking - no malo. Fresh citrus and lemony tang. 91/100

Estate Chardonnay 2015 $40: This hit the spot. All Chardonnays in the range are hand picked, whole bunch pressed, 100% use of solids and 100% barrel fermented. There's a saltiness and minerally drive here. Nutty, white fleshed stone fruits, flinty and struck match plus a softly softly approach, a result of 20% new oak. Engaging textural appeal driving through to a long finish. 93/100

'The Paringa' Chardonnay 2013 $55: This went through malo, and although a richer style than the previous, it isn't in the old school Chardonnay frame. Wild yeast fermented and 40% new oak, vanilla cream and zesty citrus sit at the core. No acid additions but the acid sits curiously high in the palate. There are years in the bag here. 94/100

PE Pinot Noir 2015 $29: A terrific entry level Pinot. So fresh and vibrant. 10-15% new oak used. Dark cherry fruit drives through with ease. Peppery spice to finish. Great stuff. 92/100

Estate Pinot Noir 2013 $60: Seamless delivery - I'd be happy to have this fed through a drip. A whiff of smoked tea. Fruit denser than the PE but fruit is satin like and tannins fine and moreish. Bam! 95/100

'The Paringa' Pinot Noir 2012 $90: This possesses a calming like presence. A suggestion of blackcurrant on the nose. The fruit is more concentrated - iron fist in a velvet glove. Edging on a powdery dry finish. 94/100

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