Inkwell Wines is a very small boutique winery in McLaren Vale. It's one of the passions of Dudley Brown who despite having a seppo accent, is actually an Aussie and a very nice guy indeed. He is a single vineyard kinda guy right down to using wild yeast and making sure it's his own wild yeast that's doing the ferment. Wild yeasts are by nature unpredictable, but he doesn't mind that as it's character he's after.
At this stage much of his Shiraz fruit is going to Chapel Hill's Vicar, which has won numerous awards. But more about the Shiraz in a bit.
It is because he originally hailed from the US that I wanted to track him down and try his Zinfandel. I figured a Yank should be able to make a good Zin in Australia, if anyone can. Dudley planted his Zinfandel a few years back, and when he did he picked the meanest bit of ground he could find for it to see if he could tame the difficult to grow vine. His success was mixed in that he was right that it was a hard bit of ground and so had a bugger of a time getting it to grow in one patch. Various amounts and types of poo eventually solved the problem. Dudley thinks if you only grow Shiraz you're a wimp.
The 2009 vintage weather was even nastier than the ground with a horrible hot spell wiping out a lot of the fruit, and the wine came out lighter than a classic Zin so he called it a Primitivo, which is the Italian version made from this grape. This wine immediately has you thinking of spiced cherries, it's light in colour but not light in the mouth, with very fine tannins. I reckon fore go the traditional xmas cherries and have a bottle of this instead. We got a barrel preview of the 2010 Zin as well, and it's something to look forward to for sure.
Dudley also gave us a preview of the bottled but as yet available 2008 Inkwell Shiraz as he thinks it needs to gestate a little bit longer. He is aiming to make wines that are going to go 10 years, at least, and a wine with enough structure to do that can be rather daunting when in it's formative years.
This wine is a tad sneaky, with the first sip I'm thinking oh yes it's full bodied alright, good fruit, and as you might expect from a wine planning to last a while, the tannins are still a tad grippy in the poor young thing. Then another sip, and the taste buds looked over at the gums, and the gums metaphorically winked back whilst daring the tongue to resist licking them. The tongue joined the Borg.
This wine is big, but it's like an elephant in a tutu. Thing is, I reckon that this Pachyderm can dance like Baryshnikov, it's just that it's going to take a few years before it's actually graceful.
I'm going to hold out and save my rating until it's released, but if you'll take my advice you'll keep an eye out for that day.
Dudley is very passionate about the Vale, and deserves a bloody big pat on the back for fighting for it.