After our tour of the Basket Range it was off to dinner at Taras and Amber’s place, which is secluded and fringed with green. This is not what you’d expect from, Australia in late November. We arrive to find quite a crowd gathered, all relaxed, happy and engaged with each other. This is pretty much the full Basket Range crew, and their wines are perched on the edge of the deck. I have my work cut out before dinner, but this is the sort of work I enjoy. So I begin tasting and chatting, while everyone begins to get a little hungry.
Some of the wines I’ve tried at Rootstock, so I prioritise those I missed. I began with three wines from Travis Tansend (above): two Rieslings from the Clare and an Adelaide Hills Semillon, which are full of vitality and focus. Then it’s a chance to taste Monique Millton and Tim Webber’s Manon wines. I blogged on these yesterday: they’re really good.
Next, a run through of BK Wines with Brendon Keys. He’s based here in the Adelaide Hills, where he’s turned his garden into the most amazing skate park. Focusing on the Hills, Brendon also draws on grapes from MacLaren Vale, as well as making a Gamay in conjunction with Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin. We looked at samples of the 2015s. ‘One Ball’ Chardonnay from Lenswood is exceptional, and even better is another Adelaide Hills Chardonnay from Piccadilly named Swaby. The Pinot Gris Ovum is fermented in two different brands of concrete egg (Sonoma Cast Stone and Nomblot), and I really liked the Skin and Bones white and reds.
A new producer to me is Murdoch Hills, which is run by Michael Downer (above). His grandfather was a collector of horse-drawn carriages, and this is where the wine names come from. It’s a solid, delicious line-up, with Pinot Meunier a speciality.
Gentle Folk is the name for the wines of Gareth Belton (above). No sulfur dioxide is added to these wines. The Vin de Sofa is a blend of Pinot Noir with 30% Pinot Gris and 10% Gewurztraminer, and it works much better than it really should. This is very pure, textured and fine. The Pinot Noir is supple, juicy and pure with lovely fruit, and it’s thoroughly drinkable with more than a hint of seriousness.
I had already tried the wines from Commune of Buttons, Jasper Buttons’ winery (lovely Scary Button and Gloria Pinot Noirs; superb Sparrows Syrah).
And I’d also tried the wines from Alex Schulkin under ‘The Other Right’ label (a trio of Pet Nats, as well as still Chardonnay and Grenache that are superbly drinkable).
James Erskine was here, too, with his compelling Jauma wines: he was another producer whose wines I’d had a look at during Rootstock (lovely Pet Nat Chenin, profound Gewurz, and silky Danby Grenache Shiraz).
Taras had shown me his Ochota Barrels wines at Rootstock, but there were a few new ones here, so I had a look at these. Everything he and Amber make is pretty compelling. They make lots of wine, some of it in small quantities. I’d buy whatever I could find, to be honest.
It was time to eat, on a big communal table, with conversation ebbing and flowing, wine pouring, and people enjoying each others’ company. There was nothing staged about this. Perhaps 30% of those present were still recovering from the weekend, so it wasn’t a big night, ending shortly after midnight for most, with a generous splash of amaro over ice to help with digestion.