Max Allen (World of Fine Wine) | Nov 02, 2018
We were really pleased that Toby and Emma Bekkers received such a glowing profile in the latest issue of The World of Fine Wine. Written by Max Allen, he comments in detail on their "uncompromising approach to producing wine."
Emmanuelle Bekkers eases the bung from a barrel of three-month-old Grenache, draws a sample, and squirts a stream of deep purple liquid into my glass. “The 2018 vintage was good,” she says, as we both swirl our glasses and take a sniff. “Almost too good, actually. These wines have so much color! I like Grenache that has lightness, prettiness.” She’s right. This wine looks, smells, and tastes more like typical McLaren Vale Shiraz than Grenache. Incredible opacity, dense ripe fruit, inky richness. Luckily, for someone seeking finesse, it’s not the only Grenache Emma made in 2018. This year, as they do each vintage, she and her husband Toby sourced grapes from a number of vineyards across the region and will eventually assemble the wines from these different sites to produce each of their three reds: a straight Grenache, a Shiraz (labeled Syrah), and a blend of the two varieties. For now, though, all the vineyard batches are still in separate barrels, and Emma is able to take samples to demonstrate to me the uniqueness of each terroir. The second Grenache she pours me—harvested from a vineyard farther inland than the first, on sandier soils—is more in keeping with the finer, restrained, focused style I’ve come to expect from Grenache under the Bekkers label. It has the brightness she’s after, the elegance and length. The third barrel yields a different wine again. This—from a higher, cooler site, almost at the boundary between the McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills regions—is lighter in every way: paler in color, super-aromatic and lifted to smell, and with a floral, crunchy, almost Campari-like edginess on the tongue. It’s easy to see how these three components offer great blending potential, with the bass notes of the first wine and the high treble of the last complementing the middle register of the middle wine. “The primary objective with our wines is to tell the story of McLaren Vale as a fine-wine region,” says Toby Bekkers. “And I think the best way to do that is to take fruit from across the region and blend it together.” Bold and original statements Toby and Emma Bekkers released the first wine under their own label—just 150 cases of Syrah—five years ago. The launch of the brand caused a stir for a number of reasons. For a start, the biggest words on the label were “McLaren Vale,” not the name of the grape or the producer. Look at most Australian labels, and you’ll see these priorities reversed. What’s more, the price per bottle was A$110—then, and still, a big ask for a new wine from a new producer. It was a bold statement of intent, a vote of confidence in Toby’s stated objective, and it raised eyebrows in a wine community that can, at times, be surprisingly conservative. There was muttering among the locals, too, when the Bekkers opened an ambitiously upmarket, stylish, glass-walled tasting room and then had the audacity to charge a A$10 tasting fee, when a visit to most of the surrounding cellar doors is free. Australia is known for its enthusiastic embrace of the tall poppy syndrome: Anyone considered to be too ambitious or overconfident in their own worth—to “have tickets on themselves” in local parlance—is often swiftly cut down to size. But the Bekkers had an advantage: Both had developed considerable reputations in the local wine industry before they established their own label. Click here to read the full article, or go straight to our recent offer on the and also our recent offer on the 2015 vintage.