Sven Joschke’s wines are exciting and delicious. After living a life as a chartered accountant and 15 years away from South Australian wine influences, he eventually came home. Something about it being in the blood.
He started making wine alongside new-era luminaries Peter Schell, of Spinifex, and Jason Schwarz, of Schwarz Wine Co, a formative duo of influence in high-end winemaking.
As a point of diversity, Joschke spends his off-season working in the pint-sized wine region of Jura in France. He’s begun to produce some of his own wines from Jura, and we await their release.
Meanwhile, the suite of South Australian Sven Joschke wines I recently sampled are wonderful explorations of Australian wine, veering between avant-garde expressions and more metered, elegant wines. They capture the zeitgeist of minimal intervention but seem to dial in a little extra maturity and balance.
From a 21-year-old planting of ‘organic farmed’ dolcetto in Langhorne Creek, 2019 Sven Joschke Wine La Francesca Dolcetto Rosé (A$28) is tangy, fresh and very bright. There’s some lolly sweetness, but the palate whips that clean with crackling, lemony acidity and a light saline mineral belt. There are delicate, dry flavours; cranberry and pomegranate are neatly complemented by a light, nutty, savoury character. It’s really easy drinking and there’s good character here, too.
Making Langhorne Creek cool seems a by-product of Joschke’s winemaking. Again, sourced from a vineyard in the region, 2019 Sven Joschke Wine La Eleanor Sangiovese (A$28) is a brilliant lighter red. It presents with an amazing garnet colour and fragrant perfume of rosehip tea, cherry juice, sweet spice and some unknown savoury, undergrowth notes. It’s fleshy in the palate with an undertow of tart acidity, more rosehip tea-meets-sour cherry characters and a light saltbush note. Sheets of light, chalky tannins shape the wine nicely. This is a delicious vibrant, crisp, lighter style red of high drinkability and interest.
From the Barossa Valley and a 70-year-old dry-farmed, bush-vine vineyard, 2018 Sven Joschke Wine Grenache (A$33) sees 100% whole bunches in the natural ferment. It shows with sloshy, dark berry, earthy notes, touches of walnut husk and some leather – though the almost tactile peppery note lifts in the wine the more you sip it. It’s definitively savoury in style, though there’s a lovely, wild and pretty feel here. It’s a cooler expression too, despite the dense flavour profile. Among myriad richer, warm-climate grenache on offer in Australia, this expression is a standout for its freshness and more energetic, lighter-on-its-feet vibe.
Again from the Barossa, this time a 40-year-old vineyard, 2018 Sven Joschke Wine Mataro (A$33) offers scents of dark berries, meat and blood, earth and light smoke. The thread through Joschke’s red wines is savouriness, and again we see it in this mataro. While a little loose knit and juicy in the palate, the wine sits lighter than expected, despite showcasing darker berry and plummy flavours. The medium-weight red is set on cool acidity, ribbons of soft, earthy tannins, and shows complexity of dried and fresh green herbs with a little peppery character sprinkled through. It’s a really pleasing, vibrant and complex wine of ease of drinking and charm.
Nadeson Collis is the sparkling wine project of husband and wife vignerons Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis. They’re a busy duo, producing Lethbridge wines in Geelong, several releases under the collaborative label Between Five Bells wines and experimental wines under their Il Modo label. The duo has an insatiable thirst for exploring new realms of wine.
This release of sparkling wines feels landmark, however. The quality is exceptionally high, the personality distinct. While many have released sparkling wine for market demand, Nadeson says this was a much more reluctant launch into commercialisation.
“It’s a thing that came around by pressure exerted on us to release the wines, rather than drink them ourselves”, he says. “These were our house sparkling wines, disgorged in small batches, drunk by us and friends and guests. We’ve been producing them on the quiet for over a dozen years. We never figured they would be commercial releases, but eventually enough people told us we should.”
The premise is pretty simple. Fruit is sourced from Henty. The wines are made
predominantly with chardonnay and pinot noir. A solera of wine, containing chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, forms the bedrock, with material included in the solera barrels that dates back to 2003 but became a more earnest reservoir for sparkling base in 2006 and onwards.
The motif of Nadeson Collis is realised in incredibly complex and individual wines.“If I am doing sparkling wine, I am going to do it differently from everyone else,” says Nadeson. “Put balls on the line in terms of style; make it interesting and distinct.”
Distinct is right. The solera material seems to be the x-factor in all the wines, threading characters of sea spray and savoury nuttiness distinctly through each. There’s richness from the solera seasoning too, perhaps, with the younger Henty wines not raised in solera contributing lip-smacking and tangy acidity.
The “entry-level wine”, as Nadeson quips, is anything but. A very vinous sparkling, composed, rich, silky in texture, the NV Nadeson Collis Inception (A$45) sees around 25% solera material blended with the remaining wine, chardonnay from 2017. The combined wines are matured in barrel. It’s a bold sparkling with honey on toast, cashew and sea-spray characters. Fuller in flavour, it shows a zingy tang of acidity and vigorous, big bubbles. There’s so much going on here.
The 2011 Nadeson Collis Millesime (A$65) cuvée has only a very small portion of the solera included, is chardonnay only and is “mostly 2011 vintage”, offers Nadeson. Again, there are overt scents of saline characters present in the wine, with citrus, floral notes and a light, herbal whiff chiming in. Savoury nuttiness works its way into the wine too, more in the palate, perhaps, and flavours lean towards brisk green apple and citrus, with some faint oily-buttery characters chiming in. It’s refreshing, crunchy and scintillating as a drink.
The coup is MV Nadeson Collis Coda (A$145). It is produced entirely from the solera material and was disgorged in October 2019. It had me saying “this reminds me of Selosse Champagne” out loud, with the wine impossibly detailed, oxidative, ample, nutty, salty, showing pleasing cidery notes with elements of fino sherry too. The wine is an evolving, rich-in-character and incredibly complex thing to sip on and contemplate. Layers of flavour, fresh, mature, savoury, yeasty, oxidative, fruity, funky, clean, dry – there’s so much going on, and it’s so good to drink. It defies the category.
“I think we have achieved something different and decent here,” Nadeson muses. I reply, “I think you’re underselling this wine. It’s utterly brilliant.”