The wines of Bekkers   
Elegant wines from Toby and Emmanuele Bekkers in Australia's McClaren Vale

toby emmanuele bekkers

Toby and Emmanuelle Bekkers run the sort of winery that I'd love to run! It is small and focused, and they have have no employees. They make lovely wine from good terroirs. And they get to live in McLaren Vale, close enough to Adelaide but also near to some very nice coastline.  

Toby has a background in viticulture, and he's been running vineyards in the region for 20 years. He grew up here, and recently was the general manager at Paxton, overseeing its transition to biodynamics. This was quite a task, with 200 acres of vineyards. Emmanuelle is French-born and trained as a winemaker. She moved to Australia 20 years ago. 

In 2010 Toby resigned from Paxton and they moved to Toulon in France for a year. 'It has opened our eyes to what is possible here,' says Toby. 'There's so much hidden potential.' They decided to do something that showed just how good McLaren Vale could be: to be an 'emblem for the region'.  

'We want to take the mid-palate generosity of the McLaren Vale,' says Toby. 'It's a huge asset but only if we avoid letting the wines become big, syrupy and porty. The key to fine wine is texture.'  

bekkers grenache

They own the vineyard the cellar door is on, and also have co-ownership of a couple of more vineyards. In addition, they buy some fruit from other growers. Toby still does viticultural consultancy in the region, as well as working in Barossa and Margaret River.

 Wines are made at Yangarra, where one of the appeals was access to a Mistral sorting machine. There's 15-20% whole bunch at the bottom of each tank and then the rest is destemmed and sorted, with whole berries going into the vats. It is kept cold for as long as possible before fermentation to extract the pretty aromatics and colour when there's no alcohol around.  

Toby believes in attention to detail and gentle handling of the fruit. 'Here in the past the attitude was if there's anything left behind you haven't done your job,' he comments, referring to the big, extracted style of red wine that was traditionally made in the region.  

He's especially keen on McLaren Vale Grenache, although he thinks it can be a challenge to make well. 'When you get it right, there aren't too many places in the world who can do Grenache like us. Grenache here is something really special.'

Just three reds are made here, and production is currently 600 cases, but it has the potential to rise to 1100 in the 2016 vintage. The business is based on direct to consumer with a bit of positioning in top-end restaurants. Some of the wine comes to the UK via Atlas. 

Bekkers Syrah


Bekkers Grenache 2014 McLaren Vale, Australia
Very fine and expressive: not at all heavy. Sweet and ripe but very pretty with a lovely silky texture and some fine spiciness, as well as a hint of pepper. There's lushness here but also prettiness with sweet red fruits. A lovely wine that's quite Burgundian in style. 93/100

Bekkers Syrah Grenache 2014 McLaren Vale, Australia
70% Syrah, 30% Grenache. This has lovely sweet lush fruit character, with raspberries and blackberries, but it's also very pure and elegant with nice texture. So polished yet also detailed. Elegant, stylish wine. 94/100

Bekkers Syrah 2013 McLaren Vale, Australia
Lovely, fragrant briney wine with a saline edge to he vivid fruit. Powerful with spicy detail and real precision, with depth, richness and also balance. Lovely stuff. 93/100

They do one other wine: a Chablis that Emmanuelle makes when she visits there each year. Tiny amounts are made for cellar door. It's fabulous!



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