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Wines that don't ‘cost the earth’


Organic, preservative-free, carbon-neutral and vegan-friendly? Whitey’s impressed by this revolutionary trio from Temple Bruer.

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Temple Bruer Wines Eden Valley Langhorne Creek Pure White Cuvée NV
($22; 12% alcohol; cork)

Chenin blanc, Viognier and Riesling? Why not? The three dance in smooth style in this creamy, slightly toasty/brioche-perfumed prettiness. Without getting too serious, it brings me soft almond biscotti, with poached pear and zabaglione. In other words, proper fizz at an almost improperly low price.

The wine has more comforting viscosity than nearly all the sub-$30 suds: it’s truly smooth and settling, leaving that gentle stream of very fine bubbles to look after the celebrating.

Intelligent, inventive blending like this casts a shadow over Australia’s insistence on making its low-cost sparklers from Pinot and Chardonnay: you just can’t get Champagne-quality versions of these from our warm regions. We can grow it in the premium cooler spots, but that’s more likely to cost you $50-plus per pop.

That the Bruers have done this organically, with minimal preservative, in a carbon-neutral manner is very clever. This quality at this price is extremely clever. If its “vegan-friendly” claim permits no live yeast, that’s impossibly clever.

If I were a little yeast beast, I’d like to have the choice of whether I gallantly lay down my life fermenting sugars in the gizzards of a vegan, an ordinary vegetarian or a deadly gourmand genius like that master omnivore chef Cheong Liew.

Temple Bruer Wines Langhorne Creek Riverland Cinsault Shiraz Grenache Rosé 2017
($22; 12% alcohol; screw cap)

Tangelo, blood orange, pink grapefruit, watermelon and loquat are some of the things I smell here. Maybe pistachio; pecan … it’s a complex bouquet for a pink, much the better for that Cinsault, most of which was destroyed in the vine-pull of the mid-’80s. We lost far too much old bush vine Cinsault in that taxpayer-funded disaster. Good to see somebody’s gone to the trouble of tracking down some remnants.

Given that aromatic complexity, the palate is a simple breeze; a bagatelle. It gets less complex, and I believe less rewarding, the colder you serve it. Chill it too hard, and it tastes more like an amorphous Riverland white.

But serve it after 10 or 15 minutes in the ice bucket and you’re rockin’. As it warms, you start to see naughty maraschino flavours and the rinds of those citrus fruits in a lemony curd, which point me toward scallops or salt ‘n’ pepper Coorong mullet with a sprinkle of dried hot chilli.

Temple Bruer Wines Langhorne Creek Eden Valley Grenache Shiraz 2017
($22; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap)

Here’s a red that shows how readily Shiraz can overwhelm Grenache. As if this wasn’t so, the label encourages you to taste a regular Grenache signal, raspberry. Without saying who “they” are, it says: “They’ll steal your heart with flavours of raspberry … “, which is one of the things I wouldn’t suggest to be prominent in this case. Which is unfortunate, because, as a 100 per cent organic, preservative-free, carbon neutral, “vegan friendly” wine it’s a pretty good drink at this price.

When I get awkward about being so critical, I look in deeper, and yes, maybe there is a hint of raspberry. Think of raspberry jam on toast and you’re close, but I still think it’s more along the lines of mulberry and blackberry, which are usually Shiraz indicators, and appreciating its carbon neutral status, dare I suggest there’s some sooty black carbon on the toast.

If there is a strong Grenache hint, it’s the savoury juice of pickled bitter cherries, but then there’s so much about this wine that is unconventional, all these characters could well have been smudged by the typical Temple Bruer obstinance I first encountered when Kevin Bruer taught at the Roseworthy winemaking college in the ’80s.

The label also describes the contents as “oh so smooth”, which probably indicates the winemaker’s desire to help you overlook the prominent velvety tannins which howl for cheese.

If I’d not read the stylish brochures, and paid no attention to the label text, I would have written a less complex, more brazen appraisal, and called it a furry, dry, fairly rustic south-of-France style of red for fun in dappled afternoon sun.

It’s a nuts-and-cheese slurp for the verandah, and a life-saving step above many of the murky, unstable, wildly “natural” wines that sit, pious and  sanctimonious, waiting for vegans up their end of the shelf.

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