I haven’t done an extended tasting note for a while. These are notes that attempt to look a little deeper at a wine, putting the drinking experience in context. This was a wine that I thought deserved such a note.
Domaine Lucci Spring Red 2015 Adelaide Hills, Australia
This is an unusual wine. It’s made by Anton van Klopper, the talented but eccentric expat South African who’s one of the leading lights in the Australian natural wine scene. He’s based in the Basket Range, a subdistrict of the Adelaide Hills that’s the epicentre of all things natural and authentic in South Australia. It’s a red wine that comes in a Riesling-style bottle, which is a bit surprising. It’s also an unusual blend, based on Merlot and Tannat among other things. This is made without any additions at all, including sulphur dioxide.
I’m drinking it on a Friday evening, just after finishing some work (tasting rosés for a Sunday Express column), and with a bunch of teenagers in the house. Not too many, but enough to prompt a degree of vigilance. It’s a fine balance as a parent: how much freedom do you allow teenagers? Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? Where do you draw the line?
Back to wine, and to this unusual bottle. The first thing I notice is the aroma. There’s a sweetness to the fruit: more raspberry jam and blackcurrant, with a bit of cherry. But there’s also a nice greenness, with fresh herbs. Maybe some rosemary, and a bit of ginger, as well as fresh cut grass. And also a bit of rose petal. It’s not Pinot Noir, but it has that sort of aroma, with a bit of cured meat and pepper, too. The aromas seem to dance around a bit, never staying put long enough to be captured.
The palate is inviting and a bit unusual. There’s supple, vivid blackcurrant and redcurrant fruit, with the two providing a nice contrast. There’s a subtle green herby character adding freshness, and a tangy sort of grittiness, as well. Juicy and vivid, this is a digestible, more-ish wine of real appeal. There’s a crunchy, grainy structure here with vivid, grippy raspberry fruit on the palate. There seems to be a reasonably high level of dissolved carbon dioxide in the wine, giving it some liveliness.
This wine is natural, but it also has lovely purity of fruit. It’s not completely conventional in its flavour, but nor is it funky. There’s a lovely harmony to this wine, and a summer-pudding intensity to the fruit. I wouldn’t call it particularly elegant – it’s more a sort of vivid, slightly chunky wine with a real drinkability. Above all, this is a wine that’s really hard to pigeonhole. Does it speak of its place: the Adelaide Hills? That’s a good question. I think it does in terms of the brightness and freshness that comes from the cool-ish climate and picking early, but then again these are unusual varieties to be used to interpret this place. It’s a bit like asking the Arctic Monkeys to cover an Adele song.
How do I rate it? I have to rate it according to its deliciousness: how much I like this. I enjoy it quite a bit. It’s not a perfect wine, and it’s not necessarily a great wine, but it’s delicious and it’s one that I’d often be in the mood to drink. So I’ll give it 92 points. And if I saw it on a restaurant wine list, I’d be tempted to give it a try, as I would any wine made by Anton.
UK agent: Les Caves de Pyrene
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