The Cirillo family are custodians of what it is believed to be the oldest continuously producing Grenache and Semillon vineyards in the world. Planted in 1848, these vines are not only a part of the Barossa history but Australia’s winemaking heritage. The Cirillo’s have been the custodians of this great legacy for the past 40 years, but there winemaking heritage spans back over 9 generations to the Southern Italian province of Calabria. However, it was not until 2003 when the first Cirillo1850 Grenache was produced solely from these great vines for sale to the public.
The vineyard sits on what would have been an old inland lake over 100 Million years ago. The soil is deep silt sand over limestone and clay and as you stroll through the vineyard (located 70km inland) the beach-like sand gives way under foot. The gnarly basket pruned bush Grenache vines stand up to 6 feet high and nearly 6 feet wide. For these vines to survive at this age, they need constant attention through-out the year. Marco Cirillo (Owner/Winemaker) spends every spare moment training, pruning and nurturing each vine through its fragile life. The result is fruit with incredible intensity and old vine richness not often seen. The fruit is usually some of the latest to be handpicked in the valley. It is 100% de-stemmed (60% whole berry) into open fermenters for up to 15 to 30 days depending on the vintage/fruit condition.
During primary fermentation the wine is hand tended 2 to 4 times per day. Once the ferment is complete it is carefully transferred into an 800kg basket press which will then allow intimate control of the tannin, fruit and overall structure of the wine. It is then stored in seasoned 60% French and 40% American oak hogsheads for up to 24 months. A final minimum of 24 months storage in bottle is given to each wine. Many of the traditionalist techniques used by Marco today have been handed down over the Cirillo generations. The high acid and rich style of the Cirillo 1850 Grenache for which Marco makes no apology, allows the wine to live for many decades as evidenced by his fathers’ style of the late 1970s and 80s.