Commune Of Buttons
There has been an explosion of interest in the wine producers from the parish of Basket Range in the Adelaide Hills. Home to Lucy Margaux, Jauma, Gentle Folk, Ochota Barrels and BK Wines, the bucolic, unofficial subregion is widely considered Australia’s ground zero for natural wine.
The Button family are also part of this coterie, whose grape growing endeavours in the Basket Range stretch back 20 years. They planted a vineyard in a natural amphitheatre surrounded by native forest and the fruit was originally bought by a variety of local producers. In 2012 siblings Jasper and Sophie Button decided to craft small batches of wine from their grapes. Winemaker Anton van Klopper of Lucy Margaux inspired and mentored Jasper as they began their Commune of Buttons label. The first releases were soulful drops that encouraged the Button duo to continue, finetuning the grape growing and winemaking process as they went.
Farming on the Button estate has now converted to organic practices and the winemaking vision has been refined over the past six years with minimal intervention at the fore. Current releases see natural fermentation, no additives, no filtering or fining, and no additions of sulphur. White wines show considerable flavour and savouriness, where reds are picked early for vitality, freshness and brisk acidity. The idiosyncratic examples from 2017 show a quiet maturity of winemaking with outstanding chardonnay the highlight.
Chardonnay from the Button vineyard has been segregated into two distinct picks from two individual soil profiles. The 2017 Commune Of Buttons Clover Chardonnay (A$40) is a pleasing white of considerable character, vitality, savouriness and freshness. An outstanding chardonnay, the fruit comes from a north-facing site with deep, red clay. The result is generous chardonnay fruit flavours. There is a nod to the styles of Jura with saline minerality and whiffs of fino-like character. Powerful stone fruit and ripe citrus notes, yet scintillating in its freshness. It has exceptional length.
A contrasting soil profile from the estate sees chardonnay vines grown in sandstone over clay. The resulting wine, 2017 Commune Of Buttons ABC Chardonnay (A$45) has a cooler, leaner profile than Clover, with sea-spray scents and saline flavours again apparent, but set among green apple and ripe lime characters rather than richer stone fruits. It is pure and simply delicious.
Pinot noir is the other mainstay at Commune Of Buttons. The Button clan produce quite lean, skeletal, green-edged reds from their site and other local vineyards with low alcohols and whole-bunch influence apparent. The 2017 Commune Of Buttons Basket Town Pinot Noir (A$36) is from the estate vineyard and is a light red wine, just a few grades up from rosé. It is vibrant, refreshing and crunchy-textured, set to the sour cherry and amaro spectrum of fruit characters.
The 2017 Commune Of Buttons Birds Share Pinot Noir (A$30) is also from the estate, sourced from the vines on the fringes of the vineyard, where, as the name suggests, birds often raid the grapes. It’s a hazy, pale-looking wine with a cranberry-like tang and quite a strong green herb character running through it. Indeed, it is almost like tonic or vermouth, not pinot noir, but it is fun to drink and the light sour cherry bitterness is refreshing.
The 2017 Commune Of Buttons Kaikuya Pinot Noir (A$36) is similarly lean, but set to more cherry-pip, maraschino and pomegranate fruit scents and flavours, again with a spike of peppery, briary greenery through the wine. It’s sourced from a vineyard in Piccadilly Valley, and, like many of these wines, it is best served with a light chill.
Rounding out the red wine releases, there’s 2017 Commune Of Buttons Sparrows Rouge (A$36), which is definitely best drunk chilled. It’s a perfumed blend of nero d’Avola and syrah from the Sparrows Vineyard. It’s a friendly, simple, quaffing wine that resembles Campari with a twist of sage and fennel. It’s simple, brisk and crisp in its appeal.
These wines give drinkers a vision of both the unique site, Basket Range and the broader Adelaide Hills, as well as an inimitable winemaking approach. Simply put, they’re exciting.
Charlotte Dalton Wines
Charlotte Hardy was born and raised in New Zealand’s famed Hawke’s Bay wine region, so she was surrounded by winemaking during her formative years. That being said, Hardy’s path to winemaking was circuitous with time spent as a baker’s apprentice and veterinary nurse before the lure of vines became irresistible. Hardy studied a Bachelor of Wine Science and then spent time working at luminary wineries Craggy Range (Hawke’s Bay) and Château Giscours (Bordeaux). Global winemaking roles led to the Adelaide Hills to take on work at The Lane Vineyard. It was from here that the appeal of the cool region began to sink in.
Winemaking was fruitful, but Hardy spotted a gap in the market and began a mobile grape analysis and laboratory service called The Hardymobile. It was a success and also gave Hardy many connections in the Adelaide Hills winemaking community as well as exposure to a slew of outstanding vineyards. Despite the portable lab service’s popularity, Hardy was lured back to winemaking in 2011. The seduction of getting creative with grapes led Hardy to work alongside luminary winemaker Natasha Mooney, which then evolved into Hardy’s solo project, Charlotte Dalton Wines.
The first releases were in 2014. Shiraz and semillon are the staples, both wines of elegance, finesse and restraint. Hardy has worked hard to build personality into each wine, but without overt winemaking overlay, instead, relying on the grapes, bunches and lees to enhance detail in her wines.
The 2017 Charlotte Dalton Love You Love Me Semillon (A$39) shows unusual concentration for the variety, offering lemon balm, lemon blossom and faint cashew nut aromas with flavours similar and vivid. The palate has a light oiliness, often not seen in semillon, though the finish is a burst of appealing, pulpy grapefruit zestiness. It feels like a wine best in youth, though you’d wager that short- to medium-term cellaring would pay dividends.
2017 Charlotte Dalton Love Me Love You Shiraz (A$42) is a medium-weight wine with spicy, floral perfume and red berry fruit spectrum flavours. The wine opens with fresh cracked pepper, brambly redcurrant and raspberry scents and a whiff of sweet earthiness. The palate offers more of the briary, peppery red berry fruitiness with a web of fine, silty tannins cinching the wine to a tight pucker to close. It’s a wine that the word ‘elegant’ readily describes.
While Charlotte Dalton Wines may be in relative infancy, Hardy's backstory speaks of broad experience and influence. While many younger generation winemakers in the Adelaide Hills seek out smashable, simple wine styles, Hardy is quietly crafting her carefully made, refined and finessed wines.