Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chain of Ponds 2009 Graves Gate Adelaide Hills Shiraz

I've been fascinated and often amused by the "geographic feature wine branding justification" syndrome that has emerged in the last 20 years. Take a creek, river, bay or babbling brook and add a prefix which you justify on the back label. And if you don't want anything watery you can always look to the hills, ridges and valleys.
Toss in the odd laughing magpie, idiot, duck, etc and the sky is the limit.

While Graves Gate satisfies all the criteria of the syndrome it has undergone a strange morph over the last three years. In 2006 on the back label of a shiraz that we sold hundreds of, these immortal [sorry] words appeared:

"Two early-settler lasses are buried near the gate to our shiraz vineyard. Their souls seem to keep those old vines alive and perky. Bright raspbery, pickled cherries, black olives, lipstick, spicy sweat,: they're coming down the hills with a picnic basket. Laughing." Greg Clack winemaker

The weird thing is though that, while Chain of Ponds makes a point of satisfying the naming syndrome with a series of local references on many of their wines, this 2006 release was 66% Barossa and 34% Kangaroo Island. This is confirmed here
although you will see a suggestion that the bottle is actually 200% full. Maybe that's why it was so popular.

Moving on to 2009 and Graves Gate has reverted to being 100% Adelaide Hills, and only 100% full, but alas no lasses. The back label now reads
"Named in memory and as a tribute to the families who lived at ‘Chain of Ponds’ from 1840 - 1970. All that now remains of the hamlet is the cemetery and its recently erected stone entrance which protects the history and stories of days gone by." So what's going on? I ask.

But just in case you're wondering, this is a damn fine South Australian shiraz probably even better than the 2006 and equally outstanding value.

Our Price: $17 per bottle by the doz



Anonymous said...


Really and truly - isn't it about the taste mate? :-)

The Outstanding Wineman said...

Absolutely, otherwise it wouldn't be there.
But it's also about a history of funny,quirky wine labels.
Like the stuff Bill used to write on the back labels of his Ingolby wines invoking images of gorillas and Dorothy Parker. Or a Richmond Grove label that declared that grapes for this wine were grown in the Hunter River of NSW.
And my all time favourite of John Wilson's on his Hippocrene label - didn't really care if the market was unimpressed, he'd happily drink it all.

Wines_For_Australians said...

Adelaide Hill shiraz like this is rare. I have to collect the entire vintages!