South Australia - discover the McLaren Vale's Cadenzia Project

Grenache with panache

By Sam Russell
Subscribe to
Vineyards at McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia

Vineyards at McLaren Vale on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia [©South Australian Tourism Commission]

What is Cadenzia? A new grape variety? Not quite, but close.

Until the 1960s grenache was in its heyday as Australia’s most widely planted red wine grape. Today it's less well known, and occupies much less acreage than the shiraz or cabernet sauvignon that contributed to its decline.

In 2004, concerned that this Very Important Grape was in danger of disappearing from view in Australia, a group of enterprising McLaren Vale winemakers launched ‘Cadenzia’, a project to restore some of grenache’s prominence.

After all, it is a variety held in international esteem. The legendary Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation in the southern Rhône is said to be its finest expression.

Today, Cadenzia is the Australian umbrella under which seven McLaren Vale wineries make and market grenache-influenced wines. From 2009 each of the wines will bear a ‘Cadenzia Certified’ logo. Some of them are straight varietal grenache. Others are blends such as GSM (or grenache-shiraz-mourvèdre). All of them are full of merit.

One of its makers, Hawker's Gate, explains: "The term Cadenzia comes from the musical term Cadenza, meaning an outstanding virtuoso improvisation, performed by the chief soloist towards the end of an orchestral performance.  Unique to McLaren Vale, Cadenzia has been introduced as an annual winemaking challenge that acknowledges the outstanding skills of the region’s winemakers. There are clear guidelines for Cadenzia, which must include more Grenache than any other variety."

A day following the Cadenzia and grenache theme in McLaren Vale is a pleasant informative thing to do. It is close to Adelaide. The district is compact. The wines are usually available for tasting. You’ll have time to visit most of the wineries and talk to the winemakers.

And unless you have a good reason to do something else instead, here’s one suggestion as to how to spend a useful day nosing out some of these wines at their source. You will find more information about the Cadenzia concept on the winemakers’ websites.

Stop 1 - Dog Ridge

One of the founding Cadenzia wineries in 2004, Dog Ridge uses fruit from its 65 year old grenache vines to produce a vintage each year. For sheer lyricism it is hard to surpass their “… wicked confection of aromas that follow through to a juicy sweet-fruit palate bursting with flavour …” See if you agree.

Open 10 to 5 Fridays through Tuesdays.
195 Bagshaws Road,
McLaren Flat
Tel: 08 8383 0140



Stop 2 - Olivers Taranga

From the shiny new cellar door at Dog Ridge to the old ‘workers’ cottage’ at Taranga is a giant step back in time – to the 1850s in fact. Recently restored, the cottage is a compact cellar door with an adjoining deck overlooking the vineyards. On Sundays it is a fine place for lunch.

Open daily 10am to 4pm
Seaview Road,
McLaren Vale
Tel: 08 8323 8498


Stop 3 - Samuel’s Gorge

Adjoining the expansive Chapel Hill complex this well-aged, atmospheric cellar door is blessed with views to Kangaroo Island and conceivably the South Pole. This is the newest winemaker to raise the Cadenzia flag. Here is focussed winemaking writ large. Three varieties comprise the entire range – grenache, tempranillo and shiraz. All are seductive.

Open daily 11 to 5
Chaffey’s Road,
McLaren Vale
Tel: 08 8323 8651


Stop 4 - Lunch on D’Arry’s Verandah

Last time we counted, d’Arenberg boasted 35 different wines in its range. Grenache is prominent in this crowd: seven of them incorporate grenache including the Cadenzia grenache-shiraz-mourvèdre. The memorabilia at the cellar door will keep you engaged for as long as needed to taste a good cross-section of the offerings before adjourning for lunch at this famous regional restaurant. 

The restaurant is open daily (for lunch only) from noon
The cellar door is open daily 10 to 5
Both are at  d’Arenberg Wines,
Osborn Road,
McLaren Vale
Tel: . 08 8329 4822


Stop 5 - Tapestry

Although the closest Cadenzia winery to the township of McLaren Vale, Tapestry’s 2007 Cadenzia fruit was sourced from the Wait family’s vineyards, a kilometre or two north  on Chapel Hill Road.

Open 11 to 5 daily except key holidays.
Olivers Road,
McLaren Vale
Tel: 08 8323 9196


Stop 6 - Gemtree Vineyards

Gemtree shares with local winery Dowie Doole an intimate, inviting cellar door abutting the Salopian Inn. Gemtree’s contribution to the Cadenzia story is an intriguing blended red wine described by them as ‘Best of the southern Rhône [grenache, that is]; best of Spain [tempranillo] and best of Australia [shiraz].’

Open daily 10 to 5 except key holidays.
184 Main Road (corner McMurtrie Road),
McLaren Vale
Tel: 08 8323 7428




  • Fleurieu Peninsula (SA)
  • Fleurieu (including Kangaroo Island) (SA)
  • McLaren Vale (SA)
  • Mount Lofty Ranges (SA)

Our Recommendations

To see our recommendations, ratings and reviews you must be a logged-in subscriber.

To subscribe please enter your email address in the "Subscribe Now - it's Free" box on the right and click the "Join" button, or fill in this form >

June 23rd, 2009
Subscribe today - it's free
Subscribe Button

Subscribe now - for news and reviews, our newsletter (optional), to join our forums, and more.

Enter your email address and click the Subscribe button. We respect your privacy.

Log in

Enter your username...

Enter your password...

Log In Button

Forgotten your password?


Kerry's corner - your free benefits