Reviews of Route du Bonheur

2016 Route du Bonheur McLaren Vale Grenache

James Halliday Wine Companion 2018 - 93 Silver

Rating: 93/100; Drink By: 2026; Price: $29.00; Date tasted: 16 Jan 2018; Alcohol: 14.0%

Destemmed, lightly crushed, wild yeast open-fermented, 10 days post-ferment maceration, matured for 10 months in used French hogsheads, blended with 10% shiraz and 3% mourvedre.

Ample colour; the bouquet is distinctly spicy/peppery, and the juicy red fruits of the palate continue the theme until the finish, when tannins shoulder their way into the discussion. It is then that the shiraz and mourvedre make their presence.

100 cases made

2012 GMS Route du Bonheur

James Halliday - Wine Companion

$27; 14.5% alc/vol; 94 Points; Drink by 2022

A 70/17/13% blend, the three components picked, fermented separately (with 2 weeks post-fermentation maceration), and matured for 18 months in used French oak with lees stirring.

Light, but bright, colour; the result of all the hard work and attention to detail is a complex spicy/savoury/juicy wine with bright red and black fruits. 100 dozen made.

2011 GMS Route du Bonheur

Philip White Drinkster - 14 May 2013

$25; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 94++ points

Daughter Georgina Smith came up with the brand name, Mum Tracy runs the vineyard and did the artwork (Shiraz lees on paper) and Paul Smith makes the wine in this brave little outfit on the Kurrajong rubble of the piedmont near the Victory Hotel. These Smiths have quietly, quickly moved to the pointy end of McLaren Vale quality winemaking, leaving many of the established names gulping in their wake.

This cool baby's lush with cherry juice, blueberry, and black and redcurrant. True to the pure and clean vineyard regime of horticulturer/environmental scientist Tracy, the wine is disarming in its bright, healthy freshness. It smells like a Burgundian fruiterer's display. The flavours are intense, the texture silky, the length and form of the wine utterly delicious. About three-quarters of the way through we get a lick of oak which adds spice to the allure. This wood is nowhere near as sappy as those were, but it brings to mind the ultra-slick Black Label Wolf Blass Jimmy Watson Trophy reds of the 'seventies.

Which raises an interesting thought: responsible organic vine gardening and tiny back shed winemaking can come up with a wine whose style is very damn close to the best wines of Australia in the pre-refinery days. Come to think of it, Blassie's winemaker, the mighty John Glaetzer, made those three Jimmy winners in a colorbond shed not much bigger than Smithy's. Watch this space.

By Philip White

2010 GMS Route du Bonheur

James Halliday's wine tasting note

Rating: 93; Drink by: 2020; Price: $25.00; Alcohol: 14.5%

Light red-purple; a 63/25/12% blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvedre open-fermented, basket-pressed and matured for 18 months in French oak. Neither fined nor filtered.

The bouquet is fragrant and expressive, as is the bundle of sweet red fruits, spice and tobacco leaf in the medium-bodied palate.

Philip White Drinkster

$25; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap; 98 cases made; 94+ points

Road to happiness? If there was enough of it to get me there, I'd call it the Road to Perdition. It's that good. It's immediately smooth and alluring to inhale, with an illusion of caramel in counterpoint to that prickly stony smell of the Flinders Ranges in summer, where all those strata re-appear like the Giant Snake.

In contrast, its vibrant, living fruit reminds me of a Medlar Gel made from Marello cherries (Grenache), framboise (Grenache and Mourvèdre) and meaty blueberries (Mourvèdre and Shiraz). After that aroma it's assertively delicious from its first sensual ooze onto the tongue. It moves in, sides around, and tantalises and teases as much as it satisfies.

I shoulda seen it coming, but after such a seductive bouquet the jaundiced drinker seems to imagine what follows can't be nearly as good as it turns out to be – this one's unreal. (Maybe we're conditioned to be disappointed in this business.) It's not stringy nor astringent, but just perfectly, honestly, slightly gelatinous.

Then it's a much more elegant and composed wine than most of the Vales, with bright, persistent acidity singing in sweet harmony with those gentle velvety tannins and vivid, juicy, vinous fruit. While the vintage hiked the strength up above what its producers would prefer, it doesn't taste as alcoholic as the number indicates, unless you leave it open for two or three days, which is bloody stupid (leave that to me -- I do it to gauge how the wine will age). It's perfectly happy to go inside you, but seems determined to leave lots of good bits lying around the mouth and the exhalations for a long long time after the swallow – the best finish of the year, so far. Stunning. Be quick!

By Philip White

Red to Brown Wine Review - Sunday July 15 2012

Before they sent this wine, I wasn't really familiar with Cradle of Hills. They're well and truly on my radar now though. This is a cracking Grenache blend.

Baked earth and cherry ripe. Lovely spice. Grenache juiciness yet with drying tannin. For my tastes it has a pitch perfect balance between richness and restraint. Good drive through the mid-palate before finishing with excellent length. This wine is eminently drinkable with a bit of air, but undoubtedly has the structure and complexity to age nicely over the next five years and beyond.

Very good value at $25. Impressive. Rated: 4/5 stars

Wine Will Eat Itself - Jeremy Pringle/ August 15, 2012

Cradle of Hills are a relatively new producer hailing from McLaren Vale. I first tasted one of their wines in a blind bracket of nine Grenaches/Grenache blends and it stood out for its composure, stylistic confidence and ferrous, savoury appeal. That wine turned out to be the GMS Route du Bonheur – or 'Road to Happiness'. Apt. Tracy Smith manages the vineyard according to organic principles and Paul Smith makes the wine. Their emphasis is on sustainability, quality and minimal intervention.

The make-up is 63% Grenache, 25% Mourvèdre and 12% Shiraz. A concentrated but not confected bouquet of raspberry, blueberry and violets with a sour cherry and iron dimension adding further complexity on the palate. Integrated acids work with softly textured tannin to give form to the silky texture. A little French vanilla oak but it knows its place. Nutmeg and pepper spice seal the deal. Lovely to drink now, will become more earthen with a stint in the cellar. A winery to watch for sure.

Outstanding value. Very Good – Excellent

Nicks Wine Merchants Vintage Direct - 1 Feb 2012

Aged for 18 months in French oak. Very deep dark red dark purple colour with dark red purple hue. The nose exhibits top notes of very ripe plum followed by some dark raspberry, liquorice, earth and spice. Full bodied the palate delivers voluptuous flavours of dark ripe raspberry, ripe plum and liquorice with a spicy finish. Good length and concentration with fine grained soft tannin structure. Aftertaste of very ripe dark raspberry and plum followed by some spice.

Excellent value for money. Rating: 92. Cellar: 2014 – 2015.

Vale WWEI: Prepare to Meet Your Maker

Earth Wines: Grenache Rises in the Vale

I believe Grenache has a tremendous future in McLaren Vale. Eight of the nine wines poured offered real proof of that. Yangarra's tightly wound and young 2011 Old Vine Estate offered a structure of luminescent acidity and fine, textured tannin. It was full of white pepper, fresh red fruits, blueberries and pot-pourri aromatics. In a word, exciting.

The 2010 Angoves Warboys Vineyard showed more oak but it was balanced with denser fruit, judicious flesh and red earthen undertones destined to become more prominent in time. Wirra Wirra's intensely perfumed, floral and feminine 'The Absconder' 2010 shone brightly again. A 2010 Cradle of Hills GMS thrilled with savoury ferrous characters and d'Arenberg's 'Ironstone Pressings' 2009 further demonstrated this producers commitment to quality Grenache and Grenache blends. Only the Penny's Hill Experimental Grenache 2010 was mired by confection, cordial-like traits and lack of form. On the whole these wines were true to where they were grown and treated in the manner the variety calls for and deserves.

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