Linda Domas and Steve Brunato are never happy, never that is unless they have a challenge on their hands. Between them they have an infectious energy and a burning desire to overcome whatever unconventional circumstances they find themselves in and to turn it into something good. Faced with the goal of making wine in Tunisia North Africa, a country not known for its fine wine, Steve and Linda rose to the challenge. Starting without stainless steel refrigeration, crusher, pumps, hoses and skilled staff they managed, without the help of running water and contact with the outside world, to create a functional winery, communicate with the locals and more to the point make an incredible old vine Carignan which went on to receive acclaim from Jancis Robinson and win a Silver Medal in the International Wine Challenge. Winemaking stints in Sicily, Puglia and Bulgaria have only added to their skill at coping with often rudimentary equipment and locals with an alternative view of quality. One would presume therefore that life back in their native McLaren Vale, South Australia is a breeze, churning out flavoursome alcoholic reds and spending the rest of the time at the beach. But no, Linda and Steve chose the coolest wettest part of the region, Mount Compass to grow grapes from which spring concentrated, classy and dangerously refreshing WHITE wines, yes Sauvignon Blanc Salience that is closer to Sancerre than Marlborough and Viognier/Chardonnay Vis a Vis which tastes like a peach from a Southern French vineyard. Their reds, which are made from a selection of interesting sites around the region taste, dare we say it, of where they come from. Stick your nose in a glass of the magnificent Shotbull Shiraz grown on the Swenson vineyard 300m high up in Southern Fleurieu overlooking Lake Alexandrina - it has intense fruit but a beguiling earthiness. The Thorpe wines from Nicole and Craig Thorpes stunning vines in McLaren Vale smell of sweet basil and raspberries and Egidio named after Steves grandfather s vines grown on the rich red soil in McLaren flat has a chocolate and spice palate with seductive texture and length. Linda is the winemaker and Steve the viti culturalist whilst the long suffering Markus, Lindas husband, is artistic director and financier.....oh and for his day job he rescues people from burning houses as a South Australian fire fighter. Their philosophy is to seek out and focus on the right dirt, Aussie for soil and aim for balance in the vines resulting in stunning fruit. Add to this attention to detail a delicacy of touch, giving tannins and texture in their wines and you have wines with real soul that are also immensely pleasurable to drink. Whilst we must be thankful that quality of wine in the world has improved immeasurably over the last ten years the major criticism would be that so much of it has become homogenous. Linda and Steve represent a relatively select band of winemakers who strive for character in wine, for preserving what comes from the earth. Australia needs more mould breakers like these two - McLaren Vale you should be proud!
492 Kangarilla Rd
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