About the wine maker
The Chalk Hill wine company is owned by the Harvey family, who specialise in producing limited quantities of hand-crafted wines. The family’s grape growing heritage goes back six generations in South Australia and today they own six vineyards spread across McLaren Vale. Their home vineyard, Slate Creek, was first planted with Grenache in 1897 and the century old vines still bear fruit today.
Renae Hirsch is the winemaker at Chalk Hill; using a minimal intervention philosophy she likes to make wines that have a purity of fruit expression, showcasing varietal, regional and vineyard characteristics.
Alpha Crucis is the brainchild of Tom Harvey, born of a desire to understand just how much influence a winemaker has in making a single vineyard wine. He formulated a plan for Chalk Hill’s cherished Heritage Vineyard: six winemakers would be given the opportunity to make small batches of wine from very similar parcels of Shiraz grapes. By allowing them to choose all the winemaking variables from when to harvest to the barrels used for ageing, very different wines are produced. Only released in years that promote quality and typicity; a comparison of the finished wines answers some of the questions as to how winemaking techniques produce differentiation.
Whilst McLaren Vale is famed for producing great wines from Shiraz, there are plenty of opportunities to try something different here. Other Mediterranean varieties also perform well in the wide range of growing conditions experienced across the peninsular. At Chalk Hill, they also grow Italian varieties including Barbera which produces full-flavoured, yet elegantly balanced reds and Vermentino which when grown close to the ocean thrives and produces surprisingly zingy wines.
They own about 88 hectares of vineyards, the first vineyards being purchased by the family in 1964. All of the vineyards are farmed using sustainable and organic viticultural practices.