Tag: Brad Hickey

Mar 03 2015

South Australia’s McLaren Vale – Focus on Terroir is Yielding Exciting Results

Posted on March 03, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

If you think South Australia’s McLaren Vale is all about super rich, high alcohol reds, now is a great time to challenge your preconceptions. According to wine critic Huon Hooke, McLaren Vale is “alive with a new surge of vitality and is making superb wine.” (Red Means Go in the Vale by Huon Hooke, Good Food, SMH, 6 August 2013)

The seeds for transformation were sown around 15 years ago when the region’s top wineries began shifting their plantings to better suited, mainly red wine varieties. But confidence really started to surge about five years ago, coinciding with the release of the area’s first detailed geological map!

First detailed geological wine map released in 2010

In 2010, after decades of research, geologists confirmed what top winemakers like Clarendon Hill’s Roman Bratasiuk had long intuited. McLaren Vale was an incredibly ancient land with an unusually diverse range of soils and underlying rock formations that are capable of imbuing the wines with very individualistic characters.


McLaren ValeThe map identified nineteen distinct soil and rock districts within six geological and mesa-climate subregions: Blewitt Springs, McLaren Flat, Seaview, McLaren Vale, Willunga and Sellicks. According to Wine Australia’s regional director Aaron Brasher, no other Geographical Indication (GI) in Australia has been so extensively mapped!

Scarce Earth Project promotes terroir-focused wines

To prove that these subtle and not-so-subtle differences in soil type, climate and elevation can find expression in the wines, a group of the region’s most prominent wineries formed the Scarce Earth project in 2010.

Participating wineries were asked to isolate single blocks of land planted to shiraz (the vines must be at least 10 years old) and produce wines representing a true reflection of their terroir or sense of place. Now in its fifth year, wines are submitted for blind-tasting to an … Read the rest

Apr 04 2014

Natural Wine: A Journey of Discovery with Fix St James Sommelier Stuart Knox

Posted on April 04, 2014 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One of the best trends in the wine world over the past decade has been the emergence of bespoke wine bars. These innovative establishments are attracting a younger clientele and offering their talented owners and sommeliers an opportunity to introduce drinkers to an exciting array of new, innovative wines rarely encountered in your average bottle shop.

Certainly the growing interest in natural wines is due in part to the proliferation of wine bars in the trend-setting capitals of Paris, London and New York. In each of these cities, you will now find several wine bars which focus almost exclusively on natural wines.

In Sydney, Fix St James sommelier and owner Stuart Knox has created a high quality, eclectic wine list, which includes a a good number of international and Australian natural wines.

Not that the labels on the wines necessarily announce the wines as ‘natural’. As far as I can tell, no-one has come up with a precise definition for natural wine. Rather, the term tends to signal boutique wines made with minimum intervention (eg. fermentation with wild yeasts and only a minimal amount of sulphur dioxide added just prior to bottling).



DOMAINE_SIMHA_RANI_grandeLast week Knox introduced members of Sommeliers Australia to some of his top natural wine picks. His choices ranged from the crisp aromatic, medium-bodied Coal River Valley Domaine Simha Rani Riesling 2013 – a delightful biodynamic Tasmanian wine made by Burgundy trained vigneron Nav Singh, to the bone dry Casa Coste Piane Valdobbiadene Prosecco  – cloudy in appearance because it’s one of the few Proseccos made in the traditional Champagne method where the second fermentation happens naturally in the bottle, but in this case with no disgorgement prior to release.

While natural wine makers may eschew the use of additives and sophisticated technological manipulation of … Read the rest