If there’s one thing flowing through the wines at Kay Brothers, it’s family history. The winery is the oldest McLaren Vale winery to still be in founding family hands, having originated with brothers Herbert and Frederick Kay in 1890 and continuing today with the third generation Colin, Bill and Alice Kay.
The original homestead was built in 1856 by the Aldersley family, and bought by Herbert and Frederick nearly 50 years later. They produced their first vintage in 1896, enjoying an incredibly long partnership until Frederick’s death in 1947. From there, it was handed to Cuthbert ‘Cud’ Kay, before being passed down to the eldest of the next generation, Colin, who continued the winemaking tradition.
Duncan Kennedy joined Kay Brothers in January 2015, continuing with the philosophy of making rich, full-boded fruit-driven wines using the original open fermenters and basket press. Their Celestial & Coq basket press was installed and ready for use in the 1928 vintage and is still the preferred method. Reflecting their traditional winemaking philosophy, the grapes are pressed gently, resulting in softer tannins and cleaner juice. While this process is labour intensive and time consuming, both Duncan and Colin believe it translates to a superior quality.
Built on top of a hill, Kay Brothers boasts magnificent views towards the Gulf of St Vincent and Mt Lofty Ranges. This higher elevation and its east-facing block result in cooler climatic conditions for its shiraz, grenache, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, mataro, nero d’avola and muscat blanc grapes.
Its enduring signature wine is the Block 6 Shiraz, sourced from the east facing vineyard of the same name. It was planted with cuttings from Hardy’s Tintara Vineyard in 1892 and was originally a ‘pumpkin patch’ of old bush wines. For many decades the fruit was blended with other shiraz parcels from the vineyard until, in 1984, the fruit was for the first time treated as a single vineyard and vinified separately. The 1.6-hectare block forms part of the larger 22-hectare vineyard, which is trellised in a north-south direction. It boasts relatively fertile soils, including red loams, heavy clays and gravelly alluvial elements, with the mosaic of soil structures resulting in distinct fruit profiles each harvest.
The 2012 vintage of the Block 6 Shiraz is the first to have been matured entirely in French oak puncheons, a third of them new. The drop boasts a deep purple colour with violet hues and a bouquet of boysenberry, hazelnut and chocolate, with hints of coconut and Cuban cigar. The full, complex palate leads to a silky, warm lingering finish, supported by juicy ripe velvety tannins.
Kay Brothers also produces a range of fortified wines, including very old solera tawny, grand liqueur muscat and rare muscat.
Stop by the Cellar Door to sample the Kay Brothers’ full range, including the 2012 Cuthbert Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 basket pressed Nero D’avola. The top of a hill location gifts the Cellar Door stunning views of the surrounding valleys, making it the perfect spot to spend an afternoon.