SOMETIMES the Australian wine scene seems dominated by the larger companies with incredible winery tank “farms”.
At the other end of the spectrum you have the smaller players, partner teams who live and work side-by-side, more often for the love of wine (and each other).
Often you’ll find them in the smaller regions and in this case, the Limestone Coast region of south-east South Australia.
Mount Benson hugs the coastline and is home to multi award-winning Cape Jaffa Wines, run by Anna and Derek Hooper.
Wrattonbully (a little further inland and just above Coonawarra) is where you’ll find Colleen Miller and her partner Mike at Ruckus Estate, with their plantings of shiraz, malbec and their obsession: merlot.
Cape Jaffa, Anna’s Blend
Limestone Coast, 2015: Sweet rosewater scent from Gewurztraminer tempered by leafy, grassy sauvignon blanc. Tight lemon-lime citrus prickles the nose too, along with a soft, green almond hull note. The Gewurztraminer gives pleasing weight and spice, while the sauvignon blanc tropical fruits conga line in and out before semillon acidity slices them clean. Refreshingly different. Rating: 8/10
Cape Jaffa, En Soleil Pinot Gris
Wrattonbully, 2015: Pear fuzz, bruising pear juice, honey and cinnamon spice. Textural, yet restrained. Winemaking has kept this ridiculously clean and the fruit is quite plush and pure: ripe pears and little soaps. Finishing tense, taut with puckering acidity. Makes you rethink pinot gris.
Ruckus Estate, Shiraz/Malbec
Wrattonbully, 2014: Single vineyard, made with vines planted in 2006 from malbec clones from Argentina (new to Australia). Heady spices, mocha oak, pepperberry, cherries. Creamy-sweet-savoury palate, almost salted caramel ice cream-like, and balanced with bittersweet coffee and licorice. It takes a unique left hand, spice turn.
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