A new event designed to showcase the ground-breaking winemakers who're shaking up the country's wine scene, Off the Vine proved an eye-opening (and palate tingling) experience for Imbibe
Imbibe caught up with Andrew Dixon, who likes to be known as the 'in house wino' at Daisy Green, which has the largest by-the-glass Australian wine list in the UK
What were your top picks from the tasting?
Andrew Dixon: Delinquente's Screaming Betty Vermentino is great. Even though we sell it at the restaurant, I couldn't help but go and taste it again. It's one of our best sellers.
I think the first taste is with the eyes and Konpira Maru (currently seeking distribution in the UK) has really cool labelling. It's niche, very Aussie, avant-garde and the colours just pop out.
Indigo Wine's Timo Mayer is a bit of a legend in Aussie wine making and I particularly loved the Nebbiolo. And we don't stock an Australian rosé at the moment, but Dal Zotto's Pink Pucino (Red Squirrel) is a perfect brunch wine and would appeal to younger wine drinkers.
How do you think these up-and-coming styles of Australian wine will go down with the public?
We currently stock one orange wine, but are always getting asked for weird and wacky wines. We like to give the customer a taste of something new – it's what the restaurant is all about – and biodynamic and unfiltered are working really well for us.
What do you think the future holds for Australian wines?
Aussie wines are first and foremost about taste. I'd say range, taste and blending are the most important aspects. We are starting to see a lot more blending of varietals, for example I tasted a Riesling/Shiraz not long ago. I've never seen a red Riesling before.
Another thing that Timo Mayer is a great example of is a medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. It is interesting to see a different take on it and lighter versions of normally fuller-bodied wines. It pushes new kinds of flavours in grapes people already know.
Also, colourful wines are going to be a big thing going into spring. Green and blue wines will be good for the young drinker.
What would you say is the biggest hurdle for Australian wines at the moment?
There is a stigma about Aussie wines, that it will just be like a bottle of plonk from the supermarket. People are pleasantly surprised when they taste one of our wines that the quality is still there.
The industry is really pushing the limit with what they can do and it is finally starting to get the recognition that it deserves. It is an understated, over-looked wine region that has so much range, and as we say at Daisy Green, people just need to open up the bottle.
Lethbridge Wines, Five Bells White 2016, Victoria
Dressed in a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches, Ray Nadeson looks as though he could be about to deliver a lecture – which he no doubt did in his past life as a researcher and teacher of neuroscience.
Taking a strongly scientific approach, Nadeson and his scientist wife Maree Collis started Lethbridge wines in the mid 90s with a focus on the importance of terroir in producing distinctive wines.
A great flight across the board, one of the most interesting wines in the selection was the Five Bells White 2016 made from Pinot Gris, Fiano, Riesling and Chardonnay.
‘There is a high risk of falling into a recipe if you keep producing wine from a single variety, the mixture of these varieties keeps me being in the flow as a winemaker,’ Nadeson told Imbibe. ‘It allows me to be completely free of constraints and sometimes I just want to make music. I feel that if you are going to be creative, then be creative.’
We found lemon, lime, apple, stone fruits and wax on the nose, while the palate offered good acidity with a textured mouthfeel.
£15.50, Berkmann Wine Cellars, 0207 609 4711
Koerner Wines, Watervale Riesling 2017, South Australia
A partnership between brothers Damon and Jonathan Koerner, the winery sources the majority of its grapes from their parents' Gully View vineyard in Clare Valley.
Having worked in the industry both in Australia and abroad, the pair is keen to push boundaries, which is evident with their amphora-aged Watervale Riesling 2017.
'Clare Valley Riesling is known for its acid, but I wanted to soften that out while still expressing its characteristics,' said Damon. 'The amphora is still porous but only lets in a little bit of air, so it's good for the aromatics and texture.'
Half the fruit for this wine is pressed immediately with the other half receiving overnight skin contact. Fermentation occurs in a mixture of amphora (45% of the wine), Slovenian oak (5%) and stainless steel tanks (50%), before being racked and spending an additional five months on fine lees in tanks.
Lemon and mandarin on the nose with honeysuckle and paraffin notes. The palate gives a light texture with bright acidity and decent length.
£15.80, The Knotted Vine, 07710 598 340
Delinquente Wine Co, The Bullet Dodger Montepulciano 2017, South Australia
'Sometimes you have to heed the call of the wild child within.' That is the philosophy of Delinquente Wine Co and it runs through everything they do.
Produced in the home of bag-in-a-box wine, Delinquente's Con-Greg Grigoriou wanted to set out to do prove Riverland has more to offer. 'We do small batch, organic, alternative grapes in the middle of the most corporate part of Australia,' he said.
Italian for 'delinquent', the Delinquente labels were purposefully designed to show off its unusual credentials.
'They are made by a street friend artist of ours,' said Grigoriou. 'He is the type of guy who hops freight trains across America... [and] are based on an amalgamation of people he comes across.'
However the difference doesn't stop at the bottle, so passionate is Grigoriou in his love for Italian varietals that he tells me, perhaps somewhat controversially, 'If we had our time again there would be no Shiraz in Australia, it would be Monte[pulciano].'
Deliquente's 2017 Montepulciano offering 'The Bullet Dodger' is medium bodied with blackberries, mulberries and damson on the nose. Dry tannins on the palate with noticeable acidity, which gives the wine a crunchy freshness and good structure.
£9.90, Deliquente Wine Co/Indigo Wines, 020 7733 8391