Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just getting older and craving more subtlety and restraint in the wines I drink — as opposed to the richness and power I used to like when I was younger. Maybe we’re all changing, as a collective wine-drinking culture, moving beyond a narrow spectrum of simple flavours to an appreciation of diversity and complexity.
Whatever the reason, I am particularly drawn to the latest range of beautiful Italian varietal wines made by Adelina, a small winery based in South Australia’s Clare Valley, from grapes grown in the cooler Adelaide Hills.
Let me put these wines in context. Adelina is owned and run by Jen Gardner and Col McBryde, both with extensive wine-science backgrounds. The heart of the business is a couple of small blocks of old, organically farmed grenache and shiraz vines next to Wendouree, Clare’s most highly regarded vineyard. The firm, full-bodied red wines the pair have produced from this site for the past dozen or so years are superbly expressive of both grape and place: well-deep reserves of licorice-black fruit held together in a finely wrought frame of ferrous tannin, needing years in the cellar to reveal all their facets. And extremely well priced at $40 a bottle, considering their quality and provenance. In collaboration with McLaren Vale-based winemaker friend Nick Bourke, Gardner and McBryde also produce a range of (mostly) $20, smashable everyday wines made from (mostly) bought-in grapes, under the Some Young Punks brand. The wines, with gaudy, pulp fiction cover art-inspired labels, include a “Naked on Rollerskates” shiraz mataro and a “Monsters Monsters Attack” riesling — you get the picture. Delicious fun they are, subtle and restrained they ain’t.
And since 2012 Gardner and McBryde also have been sourcing small batches of the white grape arneis and the red grape nebbiolo (both originally from the cool Piedmont region of northwest Italy) grown in the Bowe Lees vineyard at Woodside in the Adelaide Hills. It’s the wines they made from these grapes in 2013, 2014 and 2015 that I find so entrancing — and, like the others in the Adelina range, such good value.
The 2015 Eternal Return Arneis ($23) is a gorgeous white, with refreshing honeysuckle blossom fragrance, satisfying grape-pulpy texture and a mouth-watering savoury almond lick on the finish. The 2014 Eternal Return Nebbiolo ($25) would have to be a contender for the best-value neb in the country: enough fine, juicy, red-berry fruit to please your average pinot noir drinker, but also enough fine, persuasive, tannic grip to keep even the most demanding nebb-head happy.
The 2015 Adelina Rosato ($29), made from the wild-fermented juice of the Bowe Lees nebbiolo grapes, is a terrific example of the complex, pale rose that’s so fashionable these days: spicy, perfumed, light and bone-dry but creamy textured, too.
And the 2013 Adelina Nebbiolo ($40) is a wine that benefits enormously from decanting: give it heaps of air and let all the ethereal aromas of dried crushed bush herbs and macerated hedgerow berries emerge; let the fine, dusty tannins settle in layers across your tongue. I think it’s a wonderful wine. And I suspect I’m not alone. adelina.com.au