Meet the new Barossans

The Barossa is a region with a deep and rich history, from the early settlers in the 1840s to the many larger-than-life characters that forged the Barossa into what is today Australia’s most famous wine region.

This rich historical tapestry has provided inspiration for many young winemakers, riding on the shoulders of the giants who built the region’s reputation while showing a deep respect for the incredible resource of ancient vines they are able to access to produce their wines.

Abel Gibson produces wines under the Ruggabellus label, the name, meaning ‘rugged beauty’ pertains to the ancient and enchanting nature of our land.

He’s done his time working and gaining insights from other wineries — respect and history was learned at Penfolds, craft and tradition at Rockford, intellect and detail from Chris Ringland, perfume and texture from Charlie Melton, layers and length from his father Rob Gibson and most importantly belief from Peter Schell and Magali Gely at Spinifex.

Abel riffs on several different grape varieties, syrah, mataro, grenache, cinsault for the reds.

Four different blends from these varieties in varying proportions and with percentages of whole bunches in the ferments changing with each blend.

The results are fascinating. Very different wines from essentially the same palate of raw materials; art v science. Wines with great detail and complexity and more importantly drinkability.

New Zealander Fraser McKinley spent time working at Torbreck and the Standish Wine Co in the Barossa and Turley Wine Cellars in the US before concentrating solely on his own wine label Sami-Odi.

The grapes come from the famous Hoffmann vineyard in the northern Barossa parish of Ebenezer. Fruit from this vineyard has made its way into some of the region’s most famous wines and Fraser is lucky enough to get his hands on some of the incredible old fruits from the section of the vineyard planted in 1912.

He produces two wines, the first, the Sami-Odi DW-Old from the old 1912 vines and a single vintage; the DW referring to the Dallwitz family who previously owned the land.

The second, the Sami-Odi Little Wine, a selection from the same Hoffmann vines but a multi-vintage blend, the current release being a blend of the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages.

Both wines resonate deeply of the Barossan earth; deep classic regional flavours but with an incredible purity and a sense of spaciousness that is both refreshing and delicious. The packaging is beautiful, the label changing every year and designed by Fraser; a talented lad.

The Barossa is in good hands, while we’ve only scratched the surface here, there are many other new and exciting winemakers coming through the ranks bringing fresh ideas to the region that has been referred to as “the womb of the Australian wine industry”.

Words by Dave Brookes - Published 2016
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