The Bekkers team of Toby (viticulturist) and wife Emmanuelle (winemaker) have made the most of their formidable talents and experience since establishing their winery in 2010. Toby has an honours degree in viticulture from the University of Adelaide, and spent 15 years with McLaren Vale’s David Paxton. Emmanuelle, born in the south of France, has twin degrees in biochemistry and oenology. The pair has spent 25 years in McLaren Vale, where they raised a family; they aim to be a fine-wine beacon for the Vale. Production of their three red wines is only 1000 dozen, the unrelenting focus on quality from a small estate vineyard.
On August 19, the Bekkers announced a window for the future: their purchase of the famous Clarendon Vineyard Estate. Between 1853 and 1876, Edward Peake close-planted 60 acres on the steep hillsides. In 1862, author Ebenezer Ward, in a long description of the health of the vineyard, had marvelled that the goat-track access meant all the work had been manual. Peake’s death led to six years of mismanagement before new owner John Gillard embarked on restoration work. In 1907 the Adelaide Advertiser noted: “As a monument… to early viticulture there is nothing more interesting in the State than the Clarendon Vineyard.” By the 1930s the Gillard family had replaced many of the vines with fruit trees, the old winery on the property abandoned, the fruit sold. In the 1990s the Old Clarendon Inn at the foot of the property was purchased by the Supple family, and contour planting was employed for the first time. But viticulture wasn’t the main aim, and blackberries ran riot between 2013 and 2020.
The Bekkers are hard at work with a program of grafting, replanting and retraining the vines, and expect the first crop in ’22. Part will be sold to like-minded winemakers, part for their brand. The phoenix has arisen.
2018 Bekkers McLaren Vale Syrah
Hand-picked, the vinification very gentle to avoid extraction of aggressive tannins, matured in French puncheons (58% new) on lees with minimal additions until Dec ’19. A truly great McLaren Vale syrah, as smooth as velvet, yet with layer upon layer of purple and black fruits hypnotic in their perfection. 14% alc, screwcap 99 points, drink to 2043, $110
2018 Bekkers McLaren Vale Grenache
Picked on March 1, 10 and 23, each parcel wild yeast-open fermented separately with 10% whole bunches, the remainder destemmed, 5-6 days cold soak, matured in French puncheons. Bright, clear colour; medium-bodied, exceptional balance, spicy red/purple berries, fine tannins, and a very long finish.14.5% alc, screwcap 97 points, drink to 2045, $80
2018 Bekkers McLaren Vale Syrah Grenache
A 64/36% blend from multiple parcels spread across six vineyards, vinified separately, 15% whole bunch grenache, 30% whole bunch syrah, 5-16 days cold soak, wild fermentation, basket-pressed to used oak. Deeply coloured, fuller-bodied than the grenache, with black fruits, and a clearer tannin structure.14% alc, screwcap 96 points, drink to 2043, $80