Exclusive to The Vinorium:
Kay Brothers - McLaren Vale
New wines from one of our top selling producers.
An outstanding vintage with perfect ripening conditions.
Vintage 2017 was set up by wonderful winter and spring rainfall, with 2016 the wettest season since 1992. The abundant rain gave the soils and the entire eco-system a much needed flush after the dry summers of 2015 and 2016. A cool September and October delayed bud burst and spring growth. The vines flourished leading into flowering because of the excellent sub soil moisture with shoots showing good vigour.
Flowering conditions were mild and fruit set was quite good. Disease pressure was higher than average because of excess rain and humidity, however timely fungicide sprays kept the fruit clean and healthy. The summer months were cool, with only 2 days over 40ºC, the vines enjoyed these conditions and canopies were healthy and less stressed than in most years.
The season continued to track much later than normal. However the final ripening period was warm with cold nights, very favourable conditions for flavour development. Setting the scene for an outstanding high quality vintage. Harvest began on the 15th of March, one of the latest on record, with the picking of block 8 and block 11 Shiraz. Block 6 was harvested on the 21st of March and the final pick was block 2 Mataro on the 21st of April, a late one in deed. Yields were excellent across all varietals, colour and natural acidity outstanding with generous full-flavoured fruit characters shining through.
2017 Griffon's Key Grenache
Griffons are powerful and majestic creatures that have the body, tail and hind legs of a lion and the head, talons and wings of an eagle. They symbolise divine power and are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions. We felt that the symbolism of the Griffon matched this premium Grenache perfectly.
The fruit was hand-picked from a remarkably expressive parcel in the Amery vineyard. Artisanal winemaking ensures a rich, concentrated and powerful style reflecting its name and character. Tread carefully past the mythological ‘king of creatures’ and discover the drinking pleasure it is guarding.
The vineyard has a North-Eastern exposure. Soils are shallow red sandy loam over complex geology comprising quartz and ironstone gravels, weathered and calcareous sandstone, siltstone and limestone.
Bud-burst was late but flowering conditions were mild and fruit set was quite good. Because of the mild summer temperatures vine canopies thrived with little stress compared to most years. The final ripening period was warm with cold nights, very favourable conditions for flavor development. Setting the scene for an outstanding high quality vintage.
The best parcels of hand-picked Grenache were selected from the Amery vineyard. Fruit was open fermented and hand plunged for 10 days on skins, prior to traditional basket pressing in our 1928 press. The wine matured a further 10 months in aged French oak puncheons.
£25.95 per bottle
2017 Basket Pressed Shiraz
Our hallmark style and signature varietal. This wine represents everything we love about McLaren Vale Shiraz including generous approachability. For well over a century Shiraz has played the main role in producing wines of outstanding quality, depth and longevity at Kay Brothers. The Basket Pressed Shiraz continues this tradition.
The vineyards sourced for this wine have a predominately eastern exposure. Soil varies from sandy loam at the top of the hill to heavier loam and clay as it transcends down the hill towards the creek. The dry climate forces the vine roots, ranging from 9–18 years, to delve into the complex underlying geology consisting of quartz and ironstone gravels, weathered and calcareous sandstone, siltstone and limestone.
Following 9-12 days on skins, the wine then matured in a combination of American, French and Eastern European oak barrels for 13 months. The Basket Pressed Shiraz provides a fruit driven, full bodied McLaren Vale Shiraz in true Kay Brothers style.
£15.95 per bottle
Low yields - good quality.
The growing season for 2015/16 began with well below average winter and spring rainfall. September was cool with daily temperatures below average, this combined with low rainfall meant the vine shoots grew slowly in early spring. Then 3 consecutive months of warmer and drier than average conditions demanded earlier irrigation than the vines would normally require.
Flowering conditions were quite good, not as windy as in some years, however some welcome rain in the middle of November did cause some flower caps to stick, reducing fruit set a little.
The upside of such dry conditions was that disease pressure was extremely low and the vine canopies and grapes were in pristine health.
Between the 29th of January and the 3rd of February the drought broke and we received 44 mm of much welcomed rain. The extremely dry sub soils swallowed up this rain easily, while freshening canopies and filling out berry size and fortunately no disease or berry split was to be found. The White Frontignac grapes, which produce our dry white wine “Blanc”, were the first to be harvested as the rain arrived on the 29th of January, an early start indeed.
The first reds, Block 8 Shiraz, were picked on the 17th of February and the final ripening period provided mild conditions, ideal for full flavour development. Block 6 produced a lovely balanced crop of 10.65 tonnes, picked on the 7th of March, which historical records show is pretty typical timing. What started out as an early vintage concluded with 1.56 tonnes of Nero d’ Avola, picked on the 4th of April, which is a pretty normal date to finish up.
Whilst total tonnes harvested were below long term averages, quality was solid. The wines are highly aromatic with gentle acidity and moderate alcohol levels. The stand out varietal at this early stage appears to be Grenache.
The 2016 vintage is the 32nd release of our flagship wine, handpicked from the original 1892 planting. Long held in high esteem as one of McLaren Vale’s finest Shiraz plantings, Block 6 Shiraz continues the tradition at Kay Brothers of producing full bodied red wines that have the grace and pedigree to age for decades. Handpicked and fermented in the original open top fermenters, Block 6 Shiraz is a wine of great strength, deep complexity and amazing vibrancy.
The Block 6 vineyard was planted by Frederick and Herbert Kay in 1892 and faces east. Rows run north south with significant undulation. The vines are cane pruned with the canes wrapped onto the top wire of the low lying trellis. The present 3.5 acres comprises a corner of red loam, some heavy clay in the middle of the block and gravely alluvial soils on the lower side. The underlying “South Maslin Sands” geology is extremely complex containing layers of glauconite, limestone, sandstone and siltstone. This elegant example of McLaren Vale Shiraz is matured for 23 months in 40 % new French and American oak puncheons.
£41.50 per bottle
Since Kay Brothers first planted grapes in the fertile soil of their Amery Vineyard back in 1892, Cabernet Sauvignon has never been far from their thoughts. Along with Shiraz, and Grenache, Cabernet was to make up a large portion of Kay Brothers vintage for the next century. Though often blended with Shiraz to produce full bodied Australian Claret for many years, Cabernet has long held its position as a wine of strength,
power and balance.
The 2016 vintage Cuthbert Cabernet is the 7th release of this commemorative wine. 6.81 tonnes were hand harvested on the 21st of March 2016. The grapes were traditionally processed using open fermentation for 10 days on skins and then basket pressed in our 1928 press. The wine was matured for 20 months in French oak hogsheads and barriques. Bottled in March 2018.
£23.95 per bottle
A classic example of full bodied McLaren Vale Shiraz. The Hillside vineyard was established in 1992 using cuttings from the century old Block 6. Unlike Block 6, the Hillside Shiraz allows Kay Brothers to pick various parcels of fruit so as to assemble the best blend possible. Block 11, located at the top of the hill, has shallow sandy loam soil over limestone and sandstone. These vines are very exposed to the wind and sun. As a consequence, the vines mature earlier in most years and tend to be low yielding, with intense fruit concentration and powerful tannins.
The rest of the Hillside Shiraz is located farther down the hill, in New Block 6, where dark chocolate loam and clay soil dispersed with quartz and ironstone over silty limestone. The New Block 6 component provides the finesse and elegance to the overall blend with savoury flavours and tight structure.
Matured for 23 months in American and French oak, the block 11 component was fermented and matured in a large French oak foudre (holding 5400L). The blend of these two vineyards balances each other extremely well.
£23.25 per bottle