Three Dark Horses is a family winemaking operation located in the Seaview sub-region of McLaren Vale. It was established in 2009 by three generations of winemakers who decided to take advantage of well-established local vineyards to use select parcels of fruit in making some iconic wine styles with varieties such as Touriga and Mataro as well as MacLaren Vale classics such as Grenache and Shiraz. This tasting of red wines shows what is possible with McLaren Vale terroir and experienced winemakers.
Three Dark Horses 2017 Grenache
I started with this wine which was made from 70-year-old dry grown bush vines that were part of the old Romano vineyard. The grapes were picked very ripe and matured in French oak for 16 months. Massive aromas of ripe berries, chocolate and pepper leap from the glass and the medium-bodied palate has great concentration and persistence. This is the kind of wine that makes Grenache my favourite variety.
Three Dark Horses 2017 Grenache + Touriga
Touriga and Grenache are combined with co-fermentation, wild fermentation, a gentle basket press and finally settling in stainless steel. This 2017 blend is amazing with no oak maturation, no filtration or fining. The resulting wine is bold, fruit driven and has a vibrant, juicy character with savoury berry hints. Its complex with luscious fruit and ready for immediate consumption.
Three Dark Horses 2016 SGT
I was now ready for the last big blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Touriga – the 2016 SGT. Again a full-bodied wine with the Touriga adding some floral notes and body to the palate. Plenty of berries and some forest floor characters adding to the complexity, with soft tannins. Power and subtlety!
Three Dark Horses 2016 Mataro and 2017 Touriga
Having mastered the blends I was ready for the Mataro and the Touriga. I found both interesting and complex with magnificent fruit and minimal oak influence. The Mataro was a deep, inky crimson in the glass with spice and cigar box characters. Young and fabulous. The Touriga came from Langhorne Creek grapes which were minimally processed to allow the fruit to shine and dominate. A floral pot-pouri of aromas with deep, dark fruit and soft tannins.
Three Dark Horses 2015 Frank Ernest Shiraz
Lastly, the flagship Frank Ernest Shiraz, which is produced from 70-year-old dry-grown vines and named after one of their vineyard workers who still looks after the vines at the age of 92. Once again, the winemakers have used whole bunches with wild yeast fermentation to bring the magnificent fruit to the fore. It has a complex nose of ripe berries, oak and anise. Dense fruit on the palate with soft, integrated tannins give great length and if you like full-bodied Shiraz, then this delivers in spades.
To read more about Three Dark Horses head over to their website: http://3dh.com.au/