Brothers Malcolm and Richard Leask were born in one wine region – the Hunter Valley – and then moved to another – McLaren Vale – when their parents bought some land there in 1980. For many years they grew and then sold grapes, before taking the plunge in 2011 to start their own label, Hither & Yon.
Richard tends to the vines and farm, while Mal makes the wine, with regenerative viticulture guiding the growing and hands-off winemaking practices. They have a passion for Mediterranean/Iberian varieties, which is reflected in their diverse offerings.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the charming Hither & Yon cellar door on the main street of Willunga, tasting some wines with Malcolm and patting the resident dog, Roger. If you’re in the area, definitely stop by for a taste and a chat.
2023 Hither & Yon McLaren Vale ‘Petit Blanc’ Muscat – 92 points
‘The fruit was the first of the 2023 harvest, hand-picked on the morning of 23rd February at 12.1 Baume, 7.8 ta, 3.1 pH, 3.58 tonnes only. Upon receiving at the winery, the fruit was gently destemmed straight into the press, where it was held on skins for 3 hours, to enhance the mid palate of the juice. The free run juice fraction was collected into stainless steel tank, and the gentlest of pressings were also combined. The juice was then settled and racked off lees, wild fermented at a cool 15-16 degrees until dryness was achieved, taking 30 days. Following nine week’s maturation, the wine was cold stabilized and cross flowed, bottled on June 5, 2023, sealed under Stelvin screwcap. Certified carbon neutral and vegan friendly wine.‘
The beautifully named Muscat blanc à petits grains is the basis of the Petit Blanc, and I believe it’s the first time I’ve ever had this grape in a dry form (it’s regularly seen in the sweet French wines Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise and Muscat de Rivesaltes). Despite its tendency to make “grapey” wines, I found this to be much more aromatic than expected, with distinct orange blossom, lemon and wax characters, and delightful lychee and spice notes that developed with some air. The palate is very zippy, salty and silky, with a slight sourness, and it pairs nicely with cheese (provided it’s not too bitter), heightening the aromatics.
2022 Hither & Yon McLaren Vale ‘Sand Road’ Grenache – 92 points
‘The fruit for this wine was hand-picked early morning, bunch sorted and delivered to the winery on March 17, baume was 14.1, ta 7.2 g/L, pH 3.01. Destemmed, retained as many whole berries as possible. 20% whole bunch added to the 8 tonne round stainless fermenter, 8 days on skins, 22-24 degrees, 2 gentle pumpovers per day. We looked for good ripe tannins, we hand dug the skins and into the press, freerun and pressings separated. While still fermenting, we transferred into 5-6 year old French puncheons, where MLF took place. Racked off lees after 6 months into stainless. Cross-flowed and screen filtered, bottled on November 10, 2022. Certified carbon neutral, vegan friendly wine.’
There’s always something special about McLaren Vale Grenache, and I enjoyed this one a lot. It’s bright and juicy (and particularly vibrant with food), showing lots of red and black fruits (wild strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, stewed plums) and some spicy cinnamon and black pepper. Give it some time to breathe and it will express itself confidently, both on the first night and the second.
2021 Hither & Yon McLaren Vale Mataro – 93 points
‘The fruit was hand-picked and delivered to the winery on April 9, this was quite late in the season for optimum ripeness. Gently destemmed to a 4 tonne stainless open top fermenter, retaining whole berries, warmed to ferment over 2 days. Primary fermentation took place for 16 days, extended for a gentle maceration, only one pump over per day. Once the wine was dry, they were pressed to tank where the free run juice and all pressings were combined. Then transferred to 4 to 5 year old French hogsheads, after 21 months in oak, the wine was bottled following screen filtration (no fining), on February 24, 2023. This wine is sealed under Neutrocork, a certified carbon neutral and vegan friendly wine.’
Often seen alongside Shiraz and Grenache, Mataro (aka Monastrell/Mourvèdre) can be quite delightful by itself. While often leaning towards the dark spectrum, I found this Mataro to be very red-fruited, with high-toned characters of raspberry, mulberry, strawberry, a touch of black cherry, and some black pepper. It was both ultra-ripe while also having a high amount of acidity, which can be tamed when pairing with something spicy or richly flavoured.
2022 Hither & Yon McLaren Vale Nero d’Avola – 94 points
‘Picked on 22nd March 2022. Cold soaked then wild fermented in an 8 tonne round open stainless, concentrating on a gentle whole berry extraction for 12 days. Then lightly pressed to tank where the free run juice and 50% of the pressings were combined. Once the wine was dry, it was sent to 4-5 year old French oak puncheons, for 11 months, all of the process to retain vineyard and fruit freshness. A screen filtration, then bottling; completing the process on 6th April, 2023 and sealed under Stelvin screw cap. Certified carbon neutral, certified sustainable winegrowing Australia, vegan friendly wine.‘
Nero d’Avola is at home in Sicily but it has well and truly been embraced by Australia, too, being one of the most widely planted “alternative red varieties” here. The first thing I noticed was the supremely ripe fruit, which came across like those squishy raspberry lollies that I could eat a truckload of. There’s an abundance of other fruit here (blackberry, strawberry, red cherry), some black pepper spiciness, and some violet prettiness. It has a real presence in the mouth, full bodied and concentrated, and the palate overall is just glorious. A thoroughly enjoyable wine.