ALEX RUSSELL WINES – WHAT’S IN A NAME?As a wine guy called Alex Russell, I was pleasantly surprised to discover another wine guy called Alex Russell working in Australia. Alex has worked in the industry for 15 years, including stints at Cirami Estate, Zilzie Wines and Angove Family Winemakers, and is a consultant winemaker for a German label called Reh Kendermann. It’s fair to say he’s been around the traps for a while.
He launched a crowdfunded wine range called Alejandro in 2015. It was an incredibly successful venture, and the wines have won loads of awards.
Alex specialises in alternate varieties. Some of you will know of Tempranillo and maybe Durif, but how many of you have heard of Lagrein? Did you know Montepulciano was a grape? Saperavi? Graciano? Savignan? Suffice to say that this is a very interesting and different range of wines.
Not only that, but there is a wine show that is dedicated to showing and awarding quality wines made from alternative varieties. Sure enough, it’s called the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show. It’s a prime example of truth in advertising, because you won’t find much Chardonnay or Riesling at this show. Alex has cleaned up at this show over the years with medals of all colours, and even a couple of trophies for best in class. In total he has won 34 awards between 2010 and 2015 – quite an impressive track record.
In the whites, you’ll find a Bianco d’Alessano (a ‘drink it now’ style based on southern Italian wines), a Fiano (an absolutely cracking little number for summer, and a stunner with most foods) and a Vermentino (this grape is a personal favourite of mine, and he does it quite well). All are $200 per dozen.
You’ll also find a Prosecco and a Rosé for the same price, but I haven’t been fortunate enough to try these yet.
Alex boasts a broad selection of reds. These are all a little more expensive, coming in at $240 per dozen. The standouts here are the Lagrein (almost black in colour, dark fruits – it’s a BIG red, and very successful at shows), a Nero d’Avola (Italian grape, fruit driven, unoaked – drink from a big glass), a Tempranillo (a quaffer for that middle-of-the-week dinner, and great for a sunny day, especially if chilled) and a Saperavi (Georgian grape, high in alcohol, intense flavours – it’ll knock you off your chair).
Look a little further and you’ll find a Carmenere (one of the six Bordeaux grapes, although almost completely wiped out there by phylloxera, and now famous in Chile), a Durif (high octane, long cellar potential), a Monastrell (a.k.a. Mourvedre or Mataro) and a Montepulciano. This last one is his most awarded wine.
These are all pretty alternative wines, and it’s perhaps a bit hard to justify splashing out on a dozen of something when you have no idea if you’ll like it. Fear not, because Alex has loads of mixed dozens and six packs available. For $240 you can grab an Alejandro Mixed Dozen (including whites and reds) and explore a whole bunch of grapes that you’ve never heard of. You’d be silly not to.