Alpha Box & Dice Kit & Kaboodle Red Blend 2018
Based in McLaren Vale, South Australia, Alpha Box & Dice are embarking on an Alphabet of Wine. Each 'letter' embodies an individual winemaking project, with the end goal being a complete collection of wines that celebrates the diverse styles and varieties found in South Australia's famous wine regions, including McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley.
Since its beginning in 2008, AB&D has become a champion of South Australia's alternative – particularly Mediterranean – varieties, exhibiting innovation at every step of the process by bending traditional winemaking norms. AB&D Winemaker Sam Berketa is most interested in finding exciting couplings between vineyard and variety, showing how New World environments can best interpret Old World styles, using small batch, minimal intervention and vegan friendly winemaking techniques. AB&D wines are now available all over the world in some of the best restaurants and cellars.
A narrow band of hills and valleys east of the city of Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills region is a diverse landscape featuring a variety of microclimates. In general it is moderate with high-altitude areas cooler and wetter compared to its warmer, lower areas.
Piccadilly Valley, the part of Adelaide Hills closest to the city, was first staked out by a grower named Brian Croser, in the 1970s for a cool spot to grow Chardonnay, then uncommon in Australia. Today a good amount of the Chardonnay goes to winemakers outside of the region.
Producers here experiment with other cool-climate loving aromatic varieties like Pinot Gris, Viognier and Riesling. Charming sparkling wine is also possible. On its north side, lower, west-facing slopes make full-bodied Shiraz.
With hundreds of red grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a fruity and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is naturally high in acidity and tannins. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.