Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ochota Barrels 2011 'surfer rosa' sangiovese (Adelaide Hills)

A fragment of a note from Max Allen put me onto this wine. Ochota Barrels, the wine project of Taras and Amber Ochota, is a producer I know from their initial release of grenache, but until Max's aside, I'd no idea there was a sangiovese part of the project too.

And there is another story here, apart from the generally-excellent story of Taras and Amber making wines around the world, including a stint making wines in Puglia and Sicily for a Swedish wine importer. Not to mention the time with Two Hands, Murray Street, Nepenthe, Californian producers and a winery in Southern Sweden. I kept expecting a story about the first vineyard in the Arctic Circle...

The most recent story has to do with a trip in Mexico and a decision to stay sticking together things surf and wine, which somehow leads to taking the best McLaren Vale grenache and the best Barossa shiraz and making the best wines they can, from the best stuff, from the best places... all of which makes sense, but none of which makes obvious sense for a sangiovese from the Adelaide Hills.

But this wine does make sense - a whole lot of sense. All 1168 bottles of sense. 110 cases of falling for a small parcel of fruit then swinging through some very different (for Australian sangiovese) wine making. It looks like a darker-rose, to start with. It's bottled in blue glass with a snappy blue label. It has barely a brush with sulphur. The fruit was handpicked in June. Not summer-June. There is 1% of Arneis skins included (bagged & frozen three weeks earlier just for this purpose). It has 20% whole bunches, a seven day cold-soak and a a wild yeast ferment.

It spent 77 days on skins. Days. There is tannin rippling all through this wine, pulling along beautiful, crunchy-fresh acids. There is sangiovese fruit in fleshy display ('vamping' as Taras puts it) but nothing plush or reliant on sweet-ripeness of fruit. Basket pressed, settled and bottled with speed.

Light, yet intricate, this is a $25 bottle of mesmerising fun. I've not tried an Australian sangiovese remotely like it. Get onto this.

$25, winery purchase, screwcap, 12.5% alcohol. Bottle 234 of 1168 tasted. Two more to go, which won't make it past Christmas.