“I think Australians have trouble with terroir,” he tells me.
In Jon Bonné's journey through the New Australia, he visits the region that's become its focal point: the Adelaide Hills.
Read On Back in the car, that unusual interpretation of shiraz prompts a larger conversation that Mc Kinley and I continue over the course of two days, about just what the Barossa should offer the world.
The deliberate weirdness of wines like his Solumodo, mostly made of skin-fermented semillon, is matched only by the finesse Gibson has with the sort of winemaking you’d be more likely to find in Friuli or the Loire: wines guided by intensely mineral and floral aspects rather than weighty fruit, sometimes even by skin maceration.
“Basically,” he tells me, “I make the whites the way most people make their reds, and make our reds the way most people make their whites.” Babe, you know You’re growing up so fast And mama’s worrying That you won’t last.
In the past two years, Shobbrook has become one of the most visible symbols of the alt-Barossa, making things like cinsault and muscat in concrete rainwater tanks and eggs formed from pure white clay, and a sherry-style nebbiolo.
For all the curios, though, Shobbrook’s most important wine might be Poolside.
Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (1983) Bonnie Tyler comes on the radio one Sunday afternoon while I’m at a car wash in Nuriootpa, waiting to rinse a thick layer of mud off my rented SUV.
Google Maps had thought a dirt road outside the nearby town of Kapunda, or what had been a dirt road before the winter rain, was a good shortcut. I am halfway into my back-to-the-future tour of Australian wine amidst a constant blast of hits from the 1980s—a decade that still seems to hold Australia in its thrall.
Quite clearly, what it does well now—grow a lot of very ripe and uninteresting shiraz and cabernet, much of it going to Australia’s wine conglomerates—is neither sustainable nor particularly relevant as tastes evolve.
At the same time, any wine region has to work with what it has, and in the case of the Barossa, that’s a lot of vines planted a century or more ago.
A New Zealander who worked at Turley Wine Cellars in California and at Torbreck in the Barossa—one of the wineries essentially synonymous with that era of shiraz—Mc Kinley settled in the town of Angaston.