S.C. Pannell Wines

      Stephen Pannell’s reputation was cemented with his time at Hardy’s as Chief Winemaker, earning him a Jimmy Watson trophy in his first year with Tintara, as well as Decanter Magazine’s Top 50 “faces to watch” in the international wine industry. Stephen’s new venture has seen him secure exquisite parcels of old-vine Grenache and Shiraz from Mclaren Vale.

      Low yielding fruit sources, from old vines, both dry grown and biodynamically managed contribute to the status of these new releases. Stephen uses open fermenters, natural yeasts, limited new oak and the wines are naturally bottled unfined and unfiltered.

      The portfolio extends to Sauvignon Blanc from Kuitpo in the Adelaide Hills as well as a miniscule production of Nebbiolo from Gumeracha. In the words of James Halliday: “This is a label which is quite certain to become thoroughly iconic in the years ahead.”

      He grew up surrounded by wine: his parents established the Moss Wood vineyard in Margaret River in the late 1960s, part of a group of wine-mad doctors pioneering grape-growing in the region at the time. Having spent a decade working as chief red wine maker at Hardys before striking out on his own in 2004. He has worked all over the world, including in Italy with Aldo Vajra in Barolo and in France for Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Domaine Dujac, Domaine Comte Lafon and Pousse d'Or. His broad experience has helped shape his approach to winemaking and his wines are true expressions of the grapes and vineyards of McLaren Vale. 

      Stephen Pannell has gone from being one of the best and brightest of the new generation of Australian winemakers to being one of the most lauded of all Australian winemakers in a very short space of time. In 2014, he won the fabled Jimmy Watson trophy, the most prestigious wine award in Australia, given annually to the producer of the best one-year-old dry red wine in the Royal Melbourne Wine Show, the top gong at the Alternative Varietals Wine Show and had one of his wines named 'Financial Review' wine of the year. Please note this was his second Jimmy Watson but the first under his epynomous label.

      2014 also saw him move into his own winery in McLaren Vale, as well as further refine his style. Steve's star is shining so brightly because of the way in which his style has evolved in the few years. He now owns 36 hectares of vineyard, and this control over his fruit has enabled him to take quality to an even higher level. The move into the new winery brought yet again more awards being named 'Winemaker of the Year' by the lauded wine magazine, Gourmet Traveller Wine.

      The pursuit of making wines which express the terrior best and what match best with their food led Pannell to explore alternative, as well, non-mainstream varieties, better suited to McLaren Vale’s warm, dry climate. The new Mediterranean grapes such as Touriga Naçional, Tempranillo and Tinta Cão have infiltrated his portfolio, while Aglianico has infiltrated the vineyard (with Carignan, Nero d’Avola and Xinomavro amongst 30 other varieites). As for regional classics Shiraz and Grenache, in a bid to make the Australian typical big, heavy and sweet ones more drinkable.

      One of the prime factors behind his success is the freshness in all his wines, something he achieves by picking earlier. "I can only pick early due to better viticulture", he says. He is looking for the varietal 'stamp' rather than 'varietal' character in his wines, hence his move to blends such as the Grenache/Shiraz/Touriga, where the sum is greater than the component parts. And because of this fresher 'stamp', he is looking to reduce the oak influence in his wines so has, like many of the best producers, moved to larger, more neutral oak.