Chapel Hill releases new flagship, The Devil Shiraz

June 11, 2024
By Cody Profaca

McLaren Vale’s Chapel Hill has released a new icon wine, The Devil Shiraz 2020. The new release, which coincides with the winery’s 50th anniversary, will replace The Vicar as Chapel Hill’s flagship wine.

At last week’s launch event in Sydney, Chief Winemaker Michael Fragos said, “we really wanted to release a wine to celebrate our 50th vintage, and we just took a step back and said, you know, what’s important to Chapel Hill? What do we want this wine to speak to people about? And I guess for us, we wanted a wine that really epitomised that attention to detail through the whole process.” 

Named after the idiom the devil is in the detail, The Devil Shiraz 2020 is crafted from fruit from the winery’s oldest remaining vines which were planted in its House Block vineyards in 1977.

“A major focus for the team over the last 10 years has been on improving our vineyards’ soils and, more specifically, the soils and vines in our House Block,” said Fragos. 

“It’s a tiny block, just 0.8 hectares, but it has always had huge potential. The geology of the block is a very humbling 550 million years old.” 

Senior Viticulturist Rachel Steer led the winery’s efforts in guiding these vineyards back into their current health using a process called ‘layering.’

“The technique of layering – if you’re looking at a vine in wintertime, beautiful, long, young canes on it – it’s effectively taking one of those canes and burying it back into the ground and creating a new vine. The beauty of doing that is that you’ve got a mother vine that’s effectively supporting this brand new vine, and I don’t have to look after it, so that’s the best thing from my point of view, but it also clones the parent vine. We didn’t have to bring in any material, we’ve maintained the integrity of the block, and we’ve filled up all those spaces.”

The first release of Chapel Hill The Devil Shiraz comes from the 2020 vintage, which Steer says “was the first year these layered vines were established enough to blend with fruit harvested from the old vines.

“Leading into the ‘20 vintage… it was a really dry spring and it was quite hot or warm, I would say, but it was just consistently warm and dry the whole way through to Christmas,” she added. 

“Leading into that Christmas period, the vines were actually starting to get a little bit of heat stress, they were de-vigoured. We hadn’t really set a big crop, which in winemaking terms is not a problem because that often means great quality, but January continued on pretty cool, and then into February, still really dry and bang! 20 to 30 mils of rain… It came at a time when it didn’t impact on the fruit, the fruit was still high and green, we didn’t get any splitting, and the vines just chilled, they really just sucked all that up, it reinvigorated them and just set them up for the rest of vintage.

“I think without that rainfall event that we had, a lot of blocks would have really struggled. The House Block, being particularly looked after and beautifully irrigated through this period, cruised right through, and we were able to pick it at that perfect time.”

Only eight barrels of Chapel Hill The Devil Shiraz 2020 were made, with each bottle retailing at $180. Also in Chapel Hill’s icon collection is The Vicar Shiraz 2021 at $80, and the Road Block Shiraz 2021 at $65, and the Gorge Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2021, also at $65. 

For more information visit Chapel Hill’s website

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