After running a successful commercial nursury for many years, importing countless alternative varieties in to Australia, Wayne Farquhar launched his Dell’Uva Wines brand quite recently. I visited his vineyard in the Barossa Valley in 2013 and tasted some wines in tank, so I was thrilled when he visited Melbourne and gave me some bottles to try. Here are my impressions.
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Some places have all the luck. Firstly the Barossa Valley is undoubtedly Australia’s most recognised wine region, with studies showing that it is one of the only ones that consumers in the United Kingdom and United States can actually identify. Located within an hour from the outskirts of Adelaide it also has the benefit of hoards of wine tourists walking through every year, compared to unlucky fellow SA vignerons in the Clare Valley or Coonawarra. The Barossa Valley also has one of the longest traditions of continuous winemaking tradition dating back to the mid-19th century, and has the vines and facilities to prove it. The subject of change is quite touchy, whether it relates to new techniques, new varieties or new clonal material. With generations of heritage passed down and a huge investment in promoting the supremacy and uniqueness of old vine wines it is hard to break free and try something different. Evolving markets filled with disinterested consumers for the kind of wines that Australia has become synonymous with, not to mention climate change means that new thinking is not only a good idea but mandatory for survival. There are a select few that aren’t winning friends in the region but are gaining a cult following for their wines that break the mould, particularly in terms of alternative grape varieties.