05 Jun Off the Vine, Season 1, Ep 12

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Chapel Hill Vineyard: The Willunga Basin was carved out of a mountain range which once stood 5,000 meters high. The influence of the melting ice cap in the basin itself has created a plethora of different soils covering more than 5000 hectares suitable for the cultivation of grapes, flowers, almonds and olives. Facing the Gulf of St Vincent, this important horticultural and recreational region enjoys a unique range of attributes. Soils on the ridges are shallow, harsh and ideally suited to red grape varieties such as Shiraz. The influence of Gulf water moderates the Mediterranean climate, enabling grapes of very high quality to be grown. In the opinion of Chief Winemaker Pam Dunsford, the most important thing about wine is that it reflects the fruit so that the true flavor of the varietal comes through. It should also have a complexity that intrigues people and encourages them to keep drinking the wine. When matching food with wine it is important that they complement one other and achieve a balance. If a wine is high in tannin, then the food should soften the tannin through, for example, the natural fats found in meat dishes or by the use of butter. Chapel Hill also has a vineyard at Kangarilla. This was a deliberate choice because Kangarilla is the coolest sub region in the McLaren Vale. The land was originally a dairy cow agistment paddock with a small creek running through it. Working in conjunction with the Native Vegetation Council, a six hectare corridor of native vegetation was created through the vineyard and the creek was diverted. Chapel Hill produces all of its Verdelho from this one vineyard at Kangarilla. Through the use of various canopy techniques and by staggering the harvest, much greater complexity is achieved in the wine.