It’s probably hard to imagine fear and trepidation in a wine reviewer’s life. Certainly wine never speaks back, no matter how much we loathe or love it. But wine can be somebody’s life work and sinking the boot in can be, as a colleague once quipped, like saying your daughter’s ugly.
Well, the samples arrived from a winery never visited, from a winemaker never met and the editor’s tight deadline called for a quick response — and no option to move onto something else. These wines had to be reviewed.
Out from the case came the nine bottles of red, cork sealed (why cork?) with moulded plastic completing the closure – like those old waxed bottles.
Cut the plastic, pull the corks, pour the first wine – one of four pinot noirs from various sites in the Adelaide Hills. Instant relief. Anton van Klopper your daughters are beautiful. A beautiful, sumptuous wine, so gentle, so complex and easy to drink. Nice stalky note from whole bunch ferment (perhaps; smells and tastes that way).
The fetching label, based on a child’s drawing of a small girl offering her mum a flower, reads “Domaine Lucci, Basket Range, Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2010”. No back label. But we read on the website about Basket Range being part of the Adelaide Hills, home to one of Anton van Klopper’s vineyards.
Little Creek Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir 2010 presents a fuller flavour and other bits of the pinot spectrum. It’s equally sumptuous and lovely to drink. And so Jim’s Vineyard 2010 and Monomeith Vineyard 2010 sketch more of the pinot story – Jim’s from the Uraidla Valley, with its pure strawberry highlights and Monomeith, from Ashton Hills with its sweet, earthy, complex Burgundian notes.
We learn little from the label of Domaine Lucci Red 2010. No variety. No location. But it’s a Rhone style blend – another plush, spicy, lovable red, but with firmer tannin the pinots. The next, labelled simply and colourfully as Gramp Ant 2010 Blewett Springs (a sub-region of McLaren Vale), continues the sumptuous theme, albeit with tight tannins. What is this wine?
We shift gear into Danby McLaren Vale Grenache Mataro Shiraz 2010 – same theme, but here we enjoy the fragrant grenache highlights and rich, earthy softness of the blend.
Domaine Lucci McGunya Vineyard Adelaide Hills Mere Syrah 2010 is brilliant – a supple, spicy, elegant cool-climate style to sip forever. More please.
And finally Domaine Lucci Basket Range Adelaide Hills Merlot 2010, a leafy edged, idiosyncratic, plummy, plush red with the firm, lingering tannins of the variety.
These are wonderful wines – the four pinots being the highlights. Anton van Klopper calls them natural wines, spontaneously fermented, unfiltered with no additives save a squirt of sulphur dioxide before bottling.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011