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Dan's Blog

The First Drop Is The Sweetest

Friday, August 09, 2019

Given that the “first cut is the deepest” then it must follow that the “first drop is the sweetest”. This would certainly appear to be the case in the Barossa, home of the very creative, First Drop Wines at their “Home of the Brave”, in Nuriootpa.


This innovative, clever and hip winery is the love child of Matt Gant and John Retsas. Of the 26 different wines that First Drop produce, half of them are either emerging varietals or blends which include emerging varieties. I love the way that they call the varieties under their original (native) name such as Garnacha for Grenache and Monastrell for Mourvèdre. Mourvèdre is sooo hard to say, remember and/or spell. 


They also give their wines catchy names with matchingly groovy labels. For example: “Endless Summer”, is the perfectly appropriate name for the delightful Pinot Grigio and “Under the Gun”, for the Barbera, which is described as: “Barbera is back in action! Mixing puncheons, hills, danger and spills. Vibrant, spicy and ruthless! Vinified on location. Stirred, not shaken (where have I heard that before??) Licensed to thrill.”  What more can you say about it – a smashing wine that is fun as well!


I am not being sycophantic, but wow! Their current releases include the “Minchia” 2013 Montepulciano, “The Big Blind” 2012 Nebbiolo/Barbera and the big daddy of them all, the stunning “Forza” 2011 Nebbiolo which is f*#king amazing at eight-years-old! So svelte, gorgeous and still evolving. OMG, one of the best Aussie Nebb’s I have ever tried!


It is not only the emerging varieties that get the “silver spoon/Rolls Royce” treatment, their younger release Shiraz – 2017 “Mother’s Milk” and 2017 2% Shiraz (it has 2% Muscatel in it) are aimed (and succeed) at being sensational wines for younger/current consumption, so they are biggish, rich, very elegant wines without the lashings of tannins one finds in most young Barossa Shiraz. These wines can be thoroughly enjoyed today with or without food, as they are uber tasty and oh, so easy to drink. They are aimed at the “Now” generation, who can’t wait like us old codgers do for their wines, to mature before drinking them.


Furthermore, to demonstrate the differences in the same variety from different parts of the Barossa and to show how “the whole is better than the sum of the parts”, they produce two distinctive series of wines.


The first of these series is three, single vineyard Barossa Valley Shiraz (‘The Fat Of The Land’) and the second is a blend of the three (‘The Cream’) which, in the words of winemaker Matt Gant: “is blended from the best barrels from these vineyards to create the ultimate expression of Barossa Shiraz from the vintage.”


From the 2015 vintage, I tasted separate Shiraz from single vineyards in: Seppeltsfield, Ebenezer and Greenock along with the resultant blend. Respectively, the wines were: deep, tight and brooding, rich mocha and chocolate, refined and elegant. While “The Cream” was more complex, rounder, richer and bloody brilliant. They even supply you with a little tasting mat on which they line-up the wines and it has printed tasting notes on it and room for you to write your own. Excellent marketing with a good dollop of customer education subtly wrapped up in it. Incidentally for the stat freaks, the final blend in 2015 was 52% Ebenezer, 35% Greenock and 13% Seppeltsfield.


They do the same with three Syrah (Shiraz from cooler areas of the Barossa) under the clever the “Cold Sweat” label, from their Eden Valley project, where the wines come from single vineyards in – Moculta, Wilton and Craneford. Again the difference in the wines, which were all treated the same way, is very evident and interesting.


So, top quality wines, clever and innovative marketing and relevance to the upcoming wine drinkers. These guys have a fricking lot going for them. Check them out at www.firstdropwines.com and don’t miss their video clip at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXjnZHlS_I4

I assure you that you won’t be disappointed. Oh, and if you happen to wend your way up to the Barossa make sure that you stop in and try some of the mouth-watering Tapas dishes in the cellar door restaurant – they reminded me of some of the dishes I tried in Valladolid Spain when I was there a few years ago.


Yep, the “First Drop” is the sweetest – or one of the sweetest at least!

Cheers and have a great weekend!