The Monday morning after Rootstock. I threw all my belongings into a bag, and headed off to Sydney airport on the train. At the gate I bumped into a tired band of Rootstock survivors: Anton van Klopper, Tom Shobbrook, Monique and Annie Millton, and Tim Webber. They are cheerful but deeply weary. Most have had single-figure cumulative hours of sleep over three nights.
As we flew into Adelaide, I looked down on the hills. The city backs into them, and this is where I was headed. Ben Moroney of Wine Australia was to be my travelling companion for a couple of days, and I knew we’d get along fine as soon as he put his iTunes on shuffle over bluetooth. We had some good tunes.
First stop was to visit Erinn and Janet Klein at Ngeringa. This is a lovely property, just a short distance from the summit of Mount Barker, perched on a ridge top. There’s also another site not far away with some interesting soils. Biodynamically farmed, the vineyards were looking in good condition, but they’re quite advanced for this stage in the season. These wines are quite lovely, showing balance and precision. I really liked the Viognier, as well as the usual star of the show – the Syrah.
I didn’t know what to expect on my next visit, which was with Anton van Klopper, who makes wine under the Lucy Margaux and Domaine Lucci labels. I’d heard a bit about him, but this was my first time meeting the dude, and I hadn’t tried his wines. We drove up a long drive way through his property: were these vineyards? Yes, there were definitely vines here, but also plenty of other things growing. We passed a tool shed, improvised out of bits of random construction material, before reaching his home at the top of the property.
Anton is originally from South Africa, and his background is food. He moved to Australia aged 14, and later began working at kitchens. ‘At age 25, I could see with my drinking habits that I would be the 40 year old at the nightclub,’ he says. ‘I thought it was time for a change, and I knew wine.’ He worked vintage, then worked in a lab, then decided to grow a vineyard. ‘I started learning Steiner’s lectures and for a while ruined my life with biodynamic politics, but every time I have a problem I read him and he offers me an elegant solution.’
He found some wines for us to taste, mostly unlabelled. I was nervous: just how natural were these going to be? Actually, they were clean, pure and quite beautiful. We spat backwards, and ate some delicious nibbles that he prepared as we chatted. It was a lovely discussion. The labels are all his daugther’s drawings on hand made paper. 80 tons are processed here, all by hand. We tasted, and then it was off on the magical Klopper Basket Range Tour.