Grenache at Moppa Hill




Planted more than 50 years ago, this vineyard remains a labour of love for Shawn Kalleske, producing extremely low volumes of intense, rich, long-lived Grenache.



Moppa Hill is located in the Moppa district a small sub-region on the north-western side of the Barossa Valley.  Old vine Grenache is planted on the southern slope of Moppa Hill and lies between 342m and 352m above sea level.

Gold was first discovered in the Moppa district in 1873, and within 20 years, a mini gold rush was underway.  The mining operation ceased at Moppa during 1909 and nothing further of significance occurred at the gold fields until the 1930s.  In the 1970s, the late Sid Smith, a relative of Ian Kalleske, dug two shafts into Moppa Hill 20 metres above the Old Grenache vineyard, but little payable gold was found.



The Grenache is planted on sandy loam over friable orange clay along with fragments of quartz stone.  The orange clay runs to a depth of three to four feet and sits on a bed of scattered quartz stone.  Shawn thinks this is where the Moppa gold seam lies, but is not prepared to dig up his precious Grenache vineyard to find out.



The Old Vine Grenache vineyard was planted in 1962 by Albert and Ian Kalleske.  The clone is unknown but it produces very small berry clusters.  The ripened berries are very black, thick skinned and rich in flavour and tannin.  There are no straight lines with these rows; they were planted on a contour method matching the slope of the land to avoid soil erosion.  Row spacing is 12 feet (3.66 m), vine spacing is 8 feet (2.44 m) – a total of 1119 vines per hectare or 453 vines per acre.  The vineyard was set up as bush vines and pruned in this way for 35 years before being converted to the “spur” (cordon) method in 1997.  Grenache can have a tendency to over crop in some years and this vineyard is no exception.  In these years it is always shoot-thinned and cropped-thinned to keep an open canopy and low yields.



This is the last vineyard to be picked for Laughing Jack and can be as late as early May in some years.  The distinctive characteristics are raspberry, cherry, prune, earthy truffles, rhubarb, liquorice, black pepper and mixed spices.  It generally makes full-bodied Grenache with ample structure to live past 10 years, but is also very rich and smooth from the beginning.  The 2005 Limited Three was the first Grenache made under the Laughing Jack label and it started showing secondary characters at around 7 to 8 years.  This happens when the big upfront primary fruit characters start to evolve into more layered, silky textured complex wines.

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