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Amazing wines from a viticulture visionary


Whitey has a wallow in the amazing range of reds Wayne Farquhar makes at his Dell’uva winery and vine nursery at Freeling near the Barossa – including a smart Saperavi that for some reason reminds him of Elon Musk.

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Some time ago, like a couple of years, when my brain fell out of favour with my mind, I couldn’t work very well and postponed tasting a lot of wine, which built up around the dining/tasting room. Which is now a room dangerously bulged-out with packaging waste, which I hate.

One set of bottles I was delighted to find on a recent quarrying and delving had come from the Freeling, north-west Barossa vine gardener and nursery cuttings propagator Wayne Farquhar.

Like others, he’s probly long thought I’d swallered and forgot but while my guilt made me know these wines are no longer available it’s a delight to taste them after a couple of years’ cool storage and maturation. We can see where they’re going …

Being a nurseryman, Wayne’s a bit spoiled as far as his range of selection of disparate varieties goes, but I can happily advise that if you’re a producer who has a wide range of flavours available behind various labels, take a look at this. If you can’t match this spread of flavours, even given Wayne’s particular winemaking style, you might as well drop some lines, think up a new name and make a blend.

One small estate way out near nowhere in particular, with a range of red-to-black brain candy like this? All from fewer than 50 acres? You gotta be jokin!

Then I check the website to see which vintage they’re on now. Same. Most of these wines are still available. From $24 to $45! Where we been?!? Go sniff!

Dell’uva Barossa Carménère 2013 (13.5% alcohol) is pretty and ethereal. At first snap of the cap it’s like someone soused in Chanel No. 5 eating ripe cherries. Then there’s the gradual rise of the sort of mossy ferny fungi-laced earth I associate with properly grown Merlot. My goodness it’s delicious. Intense, supple, polished, shimmering. Long and juicy and fresh with the finest tannin. A Bordeaux variety that fell from grace because it ripens so long and slow, it mainly lives now in Chile. I love it. I reckon it’ll become an essential cornerstone of the thinking drinker’s vineyard as the climate goes nuts.

Dell’uva Barossa Dolcetto 2013 (14%) has a fair whoof of Linke’s Butcher Shop about it, with all those smoky meats. But it’s also ripe and rich with overt dates and figs and all sorts of dark things that just have to be picked before they fall to the ground or the elephants eat ’em and get drunk. It has very little tannin. Picked earlier, this cheeky, usually frivolous Italian red can be more nutty and tea tin than this. It can make a cool sparkling, too.

Dell’uva Barossa Graciano 2013 (14.5%) is polished black leather and satin. Superhero sinister. It has a gravity that will suck the light from the room. It has the old tea tin edge in the waft department but also in the tannins: after a lick of Chamberlain gearbox oil there’s juniper with anise and licorice and dark chocolate. Sort of Mallee bachelor farmer goes berserk in Haigh’s kind of thing, sick with Zorro obsessions, trying to save the girl from the man she really loves.

Dell’uva Amphora Nero d’Avola Natural Wine 2014 (14.5%) is deep and sooty and aniseed balls. It smells like a croft kitchen in the Western Hebrides. Somebody’s cooking black seaweed to die the weft in a smuggler’s tweed. There’s peat in the lug; kippers in the barrel. The flavour’s alive and vibrant and cordial-juicy. Framboise. Which I suppose makes some sort of sense in the sense that at least this is an island grape, from Sicily, where it’s a lot hotter than frigging Lewis or Uist. And yet it’s still jumpin and stompin jigs’n’jugs of eager spirituous glee.

Dell’uva Barossa Primitivo 2013 (14%) is more along the lines of the Nero, but wound round to eleven. It has some of the acrid smouldering coke of the smithy’s forge but with lots of mulberry, a bit after the old blackberry nip, and perhaps even a fresh light young crème de cassis. With fresh cream. Scones. Dangerously slippery with barely a speck of tannin. Keep away from teenagers.

Dell’uva Barossa Sangiovese 2013 (14%) is pushing me to the point where I suspect all these cottage kitchen and polished woodfire stove and smithy aromas are more regional and maybe cellar-peculiar traits. Not a surprise. Once again, in this instance the edgy/acrid topnotes sink fairly soon into the syrup of fruits, this time with a blood pudding steaming away while the bread cooks. Fitting thing with the blood of San Jove. This is a more elegant and lithe thing than some of the others.

Dell’uva Barossa Saperavi 2013 (13%) is the only one in this suite with a cork and a heavier bottle. Which befits this rambunctious Caucasus Georgia variety which is rare among wine grapes because its juice is red. Unlike nearly all other red grapes, whose white juice takes all its colour from time fermenting or soaking on skins, this big bubba’s red right though from the start. If you prune it too early, you’ll discover even the sap of the brute can be the colour of beetroot juice. So you can get all the colour you need without extracting tannin.

Dunno why, but this immediately reminded me of Elon Musk. Something to do with matte space finishes. This has a touch of titanium/teflon about it. Jeez it’s delicious. Just rocket slick and smart: very, very fast and silent. Non-stick.

Dell’uva Barossa Tempranillo 2013 (13.5%) is straight back to the Zorro comic with all the Spanish leather and grosgrain and blackness with an added lash of sabre oil. If I’d had this wine as a kid it would have reinforced my belief that Zorro polished his moustache with sabre oil. Now I’ve passed puberty it reminds me of the lass in the mask doing the tango drinking goddam bullwhip dressing oil and smoking a long cigarillo while old snicker-snack tragic in the black boater and cloak heavy breathes at the window. Juicy fresh red and pink berry salad in kirsch and marshmallow sugar.

This is an amazing suite of wines from a determined thousand-mile-stare viticulture visionary and gastronomic mud pie man who could only live in a town called Freeling.

I’ve deliberately avoided addressing his good number of how-you-say more conventional varieties, like the Shiraz ones, the Grenache, the Merlot and whatever. Today it’s just these new Australians.

Go get in this lovely selection of black Barossa muds from all over the Earth and then go back to that Carménère. Forget Petit verdot for a while and go and try some of that ravishing thing. I’ve been quietly pushing for trials for years, to no avail. But there. Now it’s published. Carménère. I wash my hands. Pick it for 13.5 alcohols.

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