Spotlight on: Coriole
McLaren Vale has celebrated its fair share of milestones over the 180-odd years it has been a wine producing region. This year, it can rejoice with yet another – the 50th anniversary of varietal innovator, Coriole, the longest continuous producer of Sangiovese here in Australia, and one of the pioneering vineyards responsible for introducing Fiano to our soils.
The Coriole story began in 1967, with the purchase of the Chaffeys Road estate by Hugh and Molly Lloyd, and a small collective of friends. Peppered with 19th century farmhouses and situated looking south towards neighbouring vineyards, the old Willunga Range and the waters off the Fleurieu Peninsula, the site clearly showed promise. Records indicated vines were first planted as early as 1873, but it was an original Shiraz vineyard, planted in 1919 following the first World War, that likely captured the imagination.
Renaming the estate Coriole, Hugh and Molly took full ownership of the vineyards in 1969 and released their first vintage, a Claret. So began 50 years of passion and experimentation, with Mark and Duncan Lloyd carrying the legacy through into the second and third generation, helping introduce Australian wine lovers to varieties like Fiano, Grenache Blanc, Negro Amaro and more.
WHERE TRADITION AND INNOVATION MEET
Since its founding, Coriole has expanded to 48.5ha hectares, with 25 different vineyards ranging from three to 100 years old. The soils are predominantly terra rossa, shallow red brown earth over hard capped limestone, upon an ancient geological feature known as the Tapley Hill Foundation. Red wines grown upon such a foundation tend to be deeply coloured, with great potential for cellaring.
It all gives Senior Winemaker Duncan Lloyd a fantastic base to work with, as it did his father Mark. Each block or part of a block is processed separately to get the best from the fruit, providing greater quality oversight from a vineyard management perspective. “We’ve been putting a lot of effort into working with our different vineyard sites to get the most out of our wines,” said Duncan, speaking recently with Selector magazine. “Some of the single vineyard Shiraz in barrel that I’m currently looking at are really exciting, and I can’t wait to get them into the bottle.”
Peter Lloyd, marketing manager of Coriole, is similarly enthusiastic. “The most exciting wine at the moment is a single vineyard Shiraz from our Willunga 1920 block,” he told Wine Selectors. “The block was planted in 1920 in the foothills of Willunga, a gorgeous old vineyard with beautiful rich soils. The 2018 release, which will go to bottle soon, is the best wine ever off this vineyard.”
While winemaking at Coriole is traditionally minded, experimentation with techniques allows the team to push the envelope and see what’s possible. Ferments are hand plunged, with a portion of new oak used for many estate reds. Others however, such as the Sangiovese and the Redstone Shiraz, are specifically matured in older oak, to gain maturity with minimal oak flavour and extract.
CELLAR DOOR: AN IRONSTONE CHARMER
Visitors to Coriole can experience the resulting alchemy for themselves at the Coriole Cellar Door, located within the old ironstone barn built in 1860. Open every day except Good Friday and Christmas Day, it’s a wonderful setting to enjoy the cottage gardens with the accompaniment of wines only available from the cellar door, including rare single vineyard Shiraz, and the ever-popular ‘Dancing Fig’.
It’s only a small venue however, so if you have a party of eight or more make sure to pre-book – especially if you’re thinking of taking in a specially curated Group Tasting Experience, where a Coriole host will guide you through wines accompanied by tasting plates of estate-grown and owned produce. They really are a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with friends in the beautiful surrounds of the estate.
GATHER AT CORIOLE
Take in an ethically sourced, utterly local food experience at Gather, Coriole’s restaurant. Led by Chef Tom Tilbury, Gather seamlessly aligns with the philosophy that drives Coriole by serving up fare that embodies the essence of the region through its native ingredients. Offering a seasonal menu that is quintessentially Australian yet utterly its own, from July to August Gather shines its light on the Sunday Roast. Open for lunch from Thursday to Monday, whichever day you choose to visit is sure to reward your tastebuds.
CELEBRATE 50 YEARS WITH CORIOLE
In addition to a roadshow that sold out across three states in August, 2019 grants visitors the opportunity to partake in Coriole’s 50th anniversary milestone for themselves with a special birthday lunch, to be held 22 September at the Coriole Vineyards. The winery will be showcasing specialties from the last four decades, with some all-time favourites and even their newest Piquepol. The event kicks off with Prosecco and canapés before an indulgent 5-course meal, and is certain to be a stellar affair.
Besides their 50th birthday lunch, Coriole regularly hosts Classic Arts events such as Shakespeare in the Vines, Opera in the Vines, the ever-popular Poets and Pizza and the Big Sing McLaren Vale. It is also a fantastic supporter of local festivals, and this year is partaking in McLaren Vale’s Spring Affair Festival on Sunday 6 October, as part of a tour of six iconic wineries of the region. For more information or to make your booking, visit Coriole’s website.
Without question, Coriole has fulfilled the promise it hinted at when Hugh and Molly Lloyd took the reins in 1969, proving itself a sure hand not only with the eternally popular Shiraz, but with bold newcomers to the Australian table as well. Happy 50th, Coriole – you’re looking great for it – and here’s to the next 50 years!
Coriole Vineyards is located at 79 Chaffeys Road, McLaren Vale, South Australia. For more information visit their website, or explore more of the region with Wine Selectors.