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JOHN ROZENTALS looks at some entry-level reds from a former Methodist chapel on the outskirts of Adelaide.

September 2, 2019 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

There has long been a strong love-hate relationship between religion and the production of alcoholic drinks.

The hate part of the equation arises when religion talks about the evils of ‘drink’ and its negative effects on society, relationships and, ultimately, the individual.

The love part is probably best exemplified by Belgian monks who have been brewing beer for centuries — and it’s much more likely to be super-strong ale rather than innocuous low-alcohol or flavourless mid-strength stuff.

And wine-wise don’t forget that one of our oldest producers is the Jesuit-based Sevenhill Cellars in the Clare Valley.

One of my favourite wineries in one of my favourite Australian wine-producing districts had its birth in 1865 as the Methodist — and you can’t get more anti-alcohol than a fervent Methodist — Seaview Chapel and schoolhouse in McLaren Vale, on the southern outskirts of Adelaide.

A special commemorative service was held one hundred year later, in 1965, to mark the church’s closing before it was incorporated into Chapel Hill Winery in the early 1970s by Adelaide’s Professor Tom Nelson, who also purchased and installed the famous stained-glass window, made in about 1770 in Glasgow and now a central part of the winery’s logo.

As with the McLaren Vale region itself, the heart of Chapel Hill lies in its full-bodied reds, and I always look forward to receiving samples from Michael Fragos, the current Chief Winemaker and CEO.


Chapel Hill 2018 The Parson Cabernet Sauvignon ($20): Harvest was timed to avoid both green tannins and jammy, overripe fruit. The result is an attractive, powerful red with rich flavours and persistent tannins which were held in check by regular pumping to encourage their integration into the body of the wine. Drink with pizza or just about any lamb-based dish.

Bremerton 2017 Tamblyn Cabernet Shiraz Malbec Merlot ($18): The ‘Tamblyn’ name for this blended red recognises Lucy and Rebecca Willsons’ grandmother’s family who migrated to Australia from Cornwall. Normally I’d disregard the 6 per cent component of a blend, but the merlot does give this red a soft roundness that many drinkers will adore. Food-wise it’s a versatile wine, but I’d suggest red-sauced pasta as a good mate.


Chapel Hill 2018 The Parson Shiraz ($20): I love the robust, full-bodied flavours of this wine which typifies a young McLaren Vale shiraz that will develop beautifully over the coming five or six years. The flavours of plums come to the fore, and I’d be drinking it with comfort food, such as hearty beef stews with lots of mushies and other vegies, while the coolish weather persists. It’s exceptional value at about $20. We are so spoilt in Australia.

Written by John Rozentals

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