Spin­ner a nat­u­ral to show­case latest drops

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

STU­ART MacGill, be­com­ing al­most as well known for his pas­sion for wine as for his leg- spin bowl­ing, is a nat­u­ral on cam­era. This is the first of a six­part se­ries in which he takes view­ers

for a spin around the coun­try’’, visit­ing winer­ies, wine­mak­ers, winecoun­try restau­rants and as­sorted en­thu­si­asts such as him­self.

Tonight we’re in South Aus­tralia’s McLaren Vale and im­me­di­ately lured in with arty close- ups of vines and bar­rels and wide shots of some gor­geous coun­try­side.

McLaren Vale is where the vines meet the sea, which pro­vides its pho­to­genic coast­line, and we learn that the sea air dis­cour­ages frosts on land and keeps tem­per­a­tures steady, so the re­gion is ca­pa­ble of nur­tur­ing just about any grape variety.

There are the tra­di­tional wines the Vale is well known for, but MacGill is in­ter­ested in fer­ret­ing out the more un­usual new­com­ers, of­ten be­ing pro­duced by sec­ond- gen­er­a­tion wine­mak­ers, some of whom are for­mer school friends and crick­et­ing mates ( Bob, for ex­am­ple, of Wirra Wirra, who pro­vides my favourite quote of the pro­gram: You don’t come over too flam­boy­ant,’’ he says, re­fer­ring to the sub­tlety of a wine he likes).

There’s a lot of hu­man con­tact here, from Aileen, who buys homemade pies at the Wil­lunga mar­kets ( where we get an idea of the re­gion’s sump­tu­ous range of pro­duce, in­clud­ing olives, al­monds and those Cof­fin Bay oys­ters), to wine­mak­ers such as Joch Bos­worth of Bat­tle of Bos­worth or­ganic wines and Su­sana Fer­nan­dez and Dun­can Fer­gu­son of Cas­ca­bel Wines with its Span­ish va­ri­eties.

MacGill’s de­cep­tively easy­go­ing chats are highly in­for­ma­tive. We learn strate­gies for or­ganic grape grow­ing and weed con­trol, the sig­nif­i­cance of soils, grape va­ri­eties and blends, and how to dis­cern lev­els of flavour.

There are 120 vine­yards in the re­gion and 75 cel­lar doors, but this is not all about wine. Early in the pro­gram we visit Fino Restau­rant, where chef David Swain spe­cialises in cre­at­ing dishes to match lo­cal wines. Cas­ca­bel’s tem­pranillo is matched with lamb and chick peas, and Tipico, a softer ver­sion of shi­raz- grenache blends’’, with the earthy flavours of a carpac­cio and beet­root dish.

At the Vic­tory Ho­tel at

Sel­licks Beach, the lo­cals are busy drink­ing and play­ing pool while, be­neath their feet, 8000 scrupu­lously se­lected bot­tles are stored in one of the coun­try’s most fa­mous wine cel­lars.

Owner Doug Go­van says he can’t travel as much as he’d like in search of wines, so he does his re­search and buys the best, and has now planted his own vines.

Other winer­ies are vis­ited and ob­scure va­ri­eties dis­cov­ered ( such as the Ge­or­gian saper­avi), and there’s a fi­nal re­cap of the wines tasted in this en­ter­tain­ingly in­for­ma­tive pro­gram.

Top shelf: Stu­art MacGill de­liv­ers the goods in this trav­el­ling wine show

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