Biodynamic minimal intervention wines from a beautiful Adelaide Hills estate
Owner Damon Nagel started life as a sommelier in Adelaide, moving to London to further his wine education whilst working in top end dining restaurants. Achieving success in London property, he would eventually return to Adelaide, purchasing the beautiful undulating Brackenwood farm in the early 2000s, first releasing wines from vintage 2005.
Winemaking is today overseen by Daniel Zuzolo, ex Primo Estate, with the stable offering interesting blends and lesser seen plantings of Barbera and Gamay alongside more traditional offerings such as Shiraz and Riesling.
Growing and winemaking is strictly along biodynamic lines, with no additions bar minimal sulphur at bottling. A pure set of releases very much at home alongside Felixir's European offerings, fun styles of personality with enough depth and interest to be taken seriously.
BRACKENWOOD RIESLING 2015
There are stylistic expectations around Clare and Eden Rieslings, the paradigm of the grape in Adelaide Hills relatively undefined. Brackenwood's contribution is distinctive and delicious, a textural and mouthfilling wine with a lovely cushioning of fruit, a style of generosity over austerity. Resting on lees solids to build texture, the fruit weight of lemon blossom and green apples belies the mere 2g/L of residual sugar. Lovely aromatically and rounded out with chalky minerals, a complete and easy to drink dry Rizza.
BRACKENWOOD GAMAY PINOT 2017
Adelaide Hills does passetoutgrains*! A nouveau style which sees no oak at all, juicy fruits and florals are complexed by a five day cold soak, and 50% whole bunch
The blend is around 65% Pinot and 35% Gamay, bringing the best of both - Pinot bringing pretty, crunchy florals to Gamay's darker fruit, firmer tannins and fresher acidity. Ultra minimalist winemaking here leaves this a touch cloudy too.
Pale ruby, bright and pleasantly washy. Uplifted perfume on the nose, herbaceous with young rhubarb. Solid acid helps support white strawberries and fresh raspberry fruit with herbs, over a savoury core derived from the stemmy whole bunch component. As gluggable as any well made Beaujolais.
*Passetoutgrains is a 'house' style of wine in Burgundy made by blending Pinot Noir and Gamay, best suited to spring time slurping.
BRACKENWOOD BARBERA 2016
Not much Barbera in the ground in the Hills. Should be more. A hedonistic, rich style with the variety’s flowing red fruits (lots of plums and cherries), and nice natural acidity in the form of sour cherries providing balance to the upfront fruit sweetness. A graphite mineral bite rounds this out with further dimensions. Silky and pure.
BRACKENWOOD FUMÉ BLANC 2016
Combining a wish to distinguish from the Marlborough style, with the weight and complexity of fruit provided by the site, Brackenwood believe the oaked fumé style to be the future for Adelaide Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Fermented and aged eight months in French and Hungarian hogsheads (1/3 new), with bâtonnage monthly.
A complex wine of creaminess and flesh, with grassy Sauvignon fruit cutting through, showing also hints of varietal passionfruit. Food friendly, textural and multi-dimensional, a 'Savvy for grown ups'.
BRACKENWOOD SYRAH 2015
24 months in old oak. Simply smokin’, enough black fruit and density to please drinkers of Shiraz from warmer climes, with enough white pepper and savoury fine tannin at the end of the line to please fans of cooler styles. This release sees a step up in concentration and length, amazing balance and detail.
BRACKENWOOD ROSSO 2016
A juicy field blend inspired by the easy drinking table wines of Europe. A blend of Pinot, Syrah and a dash of Barbera, this vintage's version is a light, juicy style which combines fun drinkabililty with surprising complexity. Bright red fruits with ferrous/rusty mineral, dried herbs, savoury and meaty with a nice mid weight texture. A high class house wine, the most European in feel of the stable.
BRACKENWOOD BOTRYTIS RIESLING 2017
Occasional vintages see parts of Brackewood's Riesling crop affected by Botrytis, with the estate making a sweet wine in suitable years, 2014 the last installment. Vintage 2017 sees a 100% botrytized wine here, and is this something special. "The numbers for this are bang on," said vigneron Damon Nagel shortly after vinification, in terms of sugar and acid levels; fast forward to the wine in bottle and this is a pretty amazing release. Honey and toast sit over an array of Riesling fruit characters of preserved lemon, tinned pineapple and citrus rind, and despite a fair whack of residual sugar (180 g/L!) the wine doesn't cloy and remains refreshing and moreish. Damon felt from his sommelier days that 375mL never quite went far enough, hence this is bottled in a half litre.