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WINES BY REGION

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Inkwell

I imagine that few, if any, of the readers of this will have heard of Inkwell Wines, let alone tasted any of them.  Which is both unsurprising as well as a great pity, as they are not only exceptionally tasty wines, they're exceptionally well priced.

Inkwell is the passion of Dudley Brown and his wife, along with business partner Paul Henry (better known as the former head of Wine Australia and current director of the Thousand Candles project in the Yarra Valley).  By route of America, Dudley has gradually transformed his picturesque property since he acquired it in 2003 to an effectively organic (since 2006) vineyard that also includes natural habitation.  In the early days most, if not all, of the fruit was sold off to neighbours (mostly Chapel Hill) whereas today a good chunk of the fruit is now produced and bottled under their own, Inkwell, label (which is a stunning label too by the way).

Most years Inkwell is the first maker in the McLaren Vale to pick, and as such, Inkwell's wines avoid the excessively ripe, overly alcoholic flavours all too common within wines from this region.  It is obvious a deft touch is responsible for the wines - both making as well as blending - and for this, Dudley gratiously (and presumably accurately) defers to his wife!

I found the wines all to have an elegance and sense of refinement to them uncommon not only within McLaren Vale wines, but most South Australian wines of these varieties. The Viognier does not reek of apricots, but rather delivers a refreshing, flavoursome white perfectly suited as an aperitif. The Primitivos - both the blend (Road To Joy with it's 14% Primitivo) as well as the varietal 'Infidel' are not massively cloying, unctuous, heroic wines.  Dudley draws his inspiration from Paul Draper's magnificent Ridge Vineyard wines from northern California, and I think he's well on the way.

The 'Scarce Earth' Shiraz is born of a regional project to literally identify the finest blocks of Shiraz throughout the entire Vale.  Minimal oak influence and acidification is permitted, and all of the submitted wines from many growers and makers are assessed by a panel of experts.  2009 was the first vintage wines were made for this project, and this wine (the 2011) is Inkwell's first to be accepted and released under the project.  A mere 45 dozen were produced.  The result is a wine brimming with personality, lovely dark fruits and a beautiful peat-like note.  Simply stunning.

Finally, my personal favourite, the wittily-named 'Meantime' blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Tempranillo, macerated on skins for weeks after fermentation using natural yeasts, and aged in a mix of old and new oak prior to bottling.  A delicious take on the southern French/northern Spanish styles, refreshing, vibrant, savoury and moreish.

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