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Product information

Vanguardist ‘MVG’ Grenache 2021

Grenache from South Australia, McLaren Vale, Australia


$66ea in any 3+
$63ea in any 6+
Alc: 14.3%
Closure: Diam
Another superb wine taking Aussie Grenache to a whole new level!


“Raspberry steeped in liqueur, plenty of perfume, lots of spice, almond paste. Medium-bodied, raspberry and subtle earthiness, firm pumice stone tannin, lots of crunch, hazelnut and crisp red berries, very bright and long. Some tea and tobacco savoury stuff. Such an excellent wine. Structural but ripe. The quality of tannin is outstanding. Serve it in a big Burgundy glass! Drink 2024-2034.”

Gary Walsh TWF 97 Points

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Check out all of the wines by Vanguardist

Why is this Wine so Yummy?

From Michael Corbett:

The Grenache that makes this wine comes from an outstanding site in Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale. A true hidden gem, the high ‘Silver Sands’ vineyard was planted by Robert Rende and his father 50+ years ago. He nurtured these dry farmed bush vines with minimal intervention and is now implementing organic practices in the vineyard.

Vintage 2021, our seventh release of this single site wine, will surely go down in history as one of the greats for many regions in South Australia. This is especially true for Grenache in Blewitt Springs. Moderate temperatures, rainfall and ripening season for some of our later picks was ideal.

The Rende Grenache harvest season begun early, with our first of 5 picks on the 20th of February, and the final pick on the 18th of April. 2021 yielded around 38HL/Ha, close to the 50+ year long-term average.

Elevage took place for 16 months in 22HL Slavonian oak foudre. These are manufactured by Garbellotto in Northern Italy. This wine was bottled without fining or filtration.

400 dozen produced + 250 x 1.5L magnum
FS02: at bottling 28ppm
TSO2: 55ppm
pH: 3.50
TA: 5.7g/L
Alcohol: 14.3%

About Vanguardist

noun: vanguard; plural noun: vanguards
People or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.
Pushing the boundaries of the norm or status quo

Winemaker Michael Corbett timed it well; when he entered the scene, Australia’s wine lovers were ready!

I’ve previously mentioned the shifts toward fresher more vibrant reds taking place in McLaren Vale and the Barossa; Michael’s wines epitomise this changing approach. For decade, winemakers argued that you couldn’t make ‘ripe’ wines in these regions without hitting 15% alcohol; we all suffered through Chardonnays as over the top as Dolly Parton.

Perhaps it was his time in working in New Zealand that enabled him to discern the earliest possible point when fruit is ripe and equipped him with the delicate touch needed to coax the most out of it.

Michael has earned his stripes. He gets the science and experiments with clear intent. The wines are not extreme; they are poised, showing great texture, harmony, intrigue and personality. The élévage is impressive.

With Vanguardist, Michael aims to push boundaries, and he does, but in a sophisticated way. For those already familiar with my thoughts on natural wine, you will know that I won’t accept lazy makers using the name as an excuse for faulty wine. But fear not; there is absolutely no worry about that ever happening at Vanguardist!

In the Vineyard

Like many Australian producers and those kicking off their own thing, fruit is often sourced from multiple regions; Grenache and Mouverdre from Blewitt Springs in McLaren Vale, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Adelaide Hills, and Riesling from the Clare Valley. In Vanguardist’s case, the pickers have stretched as far as Michael’s childhood home of Hawkes Bay in New Zealand for a splash of Syrah.

The ‘Michael Rende’ vineyard in Blewitt Springs is the source of Vanguardist’s Grenache. Rende immigrated to Australia from Italy, like many great vigneron pioneers in this country. With the help of his family, he spent his evenings and weekends clearing the land of scrub and bush, before eventually planting the very sandy Blewitt Springs block in the late 60s. (All of this while running a successful concreting business on the southern side of Adelaide.) His son Robert, who played was involve from the early days, now runs the vineyard and lives on the estate.

Vanguardist has been working with the site’s old vine goblet Grenache since 2015. He describes it as “the jewel in our crown in terms our wines and of the vineyards we work with. It is with great pleasure that we are working hands on with Robert, and will be implementing Biodynamic farming on the property from 2021.”

It’s in the vineyard that Michael has the greatest headroom to improve and there is headroom. Something that has to excite given the quality of wine he’s already making. As time has passed he’s been able to get access to larger parcels of fruit, influence vineyard activities, and, ultimately break down sites into smaller blocks to continue experiments in the winery.

We’ll start to see the efforts on this front come to fruition over the coming vintages!

In the Winery

It’s funny in Australia we are used to bigger batches going through. We think nothing of 10 to 100T ferments. Head to Burgundy and you might be looking at 0.5T ferments from clearly identified parcels of vineyard just big enough to make a 225L barrel of wine.

Setting up a winery to allow the ultimate flexibility to separate parcels of fruit takes either clever thinking or loads of coin. Much of it comes down to ergonomics and logistics.

The starting point is the size of the smallest batch you’re going to make, you have to make sure it fits into the press and then that you have appropriate size storage vessels for it to age in.

At Yarra Yering, I worked with half tonne fermenters that could be pressed 1 to 3 at a time if need be. Michael works with 1 tonne fermenters. For both it allows the maker to keep small parcels of fruit separate, handle them with precision and then store them in barrels or in Michael’s case puncheons (500L) to see how they evolve during a period of ageing prior to blending and a final period of élévage. In Michaels case in foudre (pictured below) or similar.

The advantage of this? It helps to identify and separate individual parcels and refine how each is treated in the vineyard, during and after fermentation. It gives the flexibility to see the wine through its early raw phases allowing the time to assess and clarity both physically of the wine and its endpoint making it easier to assess. It’s easy to rush decisions in the winery, to play it super safe. It’s much harder to have patience. To do it well you need to understand the rule book and be able to apply it at your discretion.

I’ve posted on tasting ferments and just how challenging it can be judging hot, fizzy, cloudy sweet liquids.

Separation of the parcels gives Michael flexibility, he can take an earlier pick with low alcohol say 12.5-13% and more acid to freshen a riper pick of 13.5-14% with more body and structure or vice versa and a later pick to add a layer of interest and structure to an earlier pick. Earlier pick, think La Petite Vanguard, later pick think Vanguardist. That’s just the beginning of the possible permutations.

Michael makes multiple passes through the Rende Vineyard to make his Grenache, employing what many would consider micro ferments and managing them through very gentle long slow infusions with very little physical working of the whole berry / whole bunch ferments.

His winery is designed to use each fermenter only once, giving the ultimate flexibility, if he wants to keep a wine on skins for a year he can (not that he does). He’s not forced to press it early to free up space for incoming fruit. It’s not uncommon for fruit to stay on skins for a couple of months waiting for the right time to press. Patience is the key, looking for benchmark aromas, textures and beyond prior to pressing.

Small batches can be incredibly intensive to work with. Take 20T of fruit, chuck it in one large fermenter and you do everything once, press once, analyse one, taste once, and the list goes on. Take 20T and split it into 20 ferments and all the work gets multiplied 20 times. The detail, the granularity shows in the level of sophistication, layering and texture in the Vanguardist wines.

Little changes between the approach of making Greanche, Mourvedre or Shiraz at Vanguardist.

There are many, many more nuances to consider some of which I explored with Michael last time we spoke.  Michael is working hard behind the scenes considering them when others choose not to, the results are clear … and very tasty!

Where in the World is Vanguardist?

Like many Australian producers, Vanguard sources fruit from multiple regions. What is more unusual is that Michael also works with international vineyards in the search for good grapes.

This wine is sourced from the Rende Vineyard in Blewitt Springs, McLaren Vale. McLaren Vale is located 45 minutes south of Adelaide – the capital of South Australia. Through the McLaren Vale Scarce Earth Program work is underway to establish and classify sub-zones, and raise their profile.

Click to enlarge🔎

97 Points

Raspberry steeped in liqueur, plenty of perfume, lots of spice, almond paste. Medium-bodied, raspberry and subtle earthiness, firm pumice stone tannin, lots of crunch, hazelnut and crisp red berries, very bright and long. Some tea and tobacco savoury stuff. Such an excellent wine. Structural but ripe. The quality of tannin is outstanding. Serve it in a big Burgundy glass! Drink 2024-2034.

Gary Walsh

Where in the world does the magic happen?

121A Radford Rd, Seppeltsfield SA 5355, Australia

McLaren Vale
South Australia