Do Alternative Wineries Have to Start With L?

Let’s start with La Cantina. It is preservative free and produces a wide variety of whites and reds in the King Valley in a rustic Italian style. You can have reisling, sav blanc and chardonnay along with more traditionally Italian barbera, nebiolo and sangeovese and plenty of shiraz, cab sav and tempranillo to round off an impressive array of styles. Note that there are not blends, or none that I tasted. The winemakers are father and son and claim that people with allergies can drink their wines without fear. I gave a bottle of shiraz to a friend with an allergy to red wines, but I have yet to get clinical records to support or refute the winemaker’s claim.

Further up the road is Lilliput Winery, about eight kilometres from Rutherglen. Typically it is a small winery in a small settlement. The German winemakers their claim their wines are biodiverse. I expected a reisling and a gewürztraminer but got neither… But they did do a shiraz and a cabernet that were very rich and fruity and I didn’t get a headache from either.

Even further up the road is Larks Hill. As with Lilliput, we chanced upon this winery located a few kilometers north of Bungerong on the road from Queanbeyan to Batman’s Bay. It is certified bio-dynamic and they stick to the gospel of Steiner with mulching, planting at the full moon, building stone monument, sacrificing virgins, the lot. The don’t do a gewürztraminer, but they do the first gruner viltliner in Australia. The story goes that importing the vines into Australia is prohibited, but a man from Tasmania had some and gave them to Larks Hill as he was getting on in years and wanted the vines to have a good home. The winemaker from Larks Hill flew to Tassie, got the seedlings and flew back with them first class. The wine is great going by the second vintage, the 2010. It is reisling like but not as austere and is quite fruit driven. Their pinot and shiraz were superb – rich and intense, long and savoury – real food wines. We had a bottle of the shiraz with steak and it was an excellent fit.

The cost of preservative free wines is minimal. As you get into the rarified and certified organic, the prices skyrocket. But it’s worth it and we willingly support the effort.

By Michael Metcalfe


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