Unico Zelo and Applewood
The team at Adelaide Hills winery Unico Zelo (and Applewood Distillery) are led by Brendan and Laura Carter. The first thing you see on their websites is, “From the land we belong to”. They’re all about looking after each other, those around them, and the land they come from.
The wines start off with the Harvest label. These are cracking little wines for the price (around the $23 mark) and you’ll find something for everyone here. A Sauv Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardy in the whites, along with a Pinot Noir and a Syrah in the reds, plus a Blanc de Blancs for something a bit fun.
You’ll also find the Spring Release range (around the $23 mark) with some fascinating little blends like the Truffle Hound Nebbiolo/Barbara blend, and the Cherry Fields Dolcetto.
Move up a notch to the Cru Release range (around $35 a bottle) and you’ll see where the magic really starts to happen. The wines have some funky names but, even better, they’re awesome to drink. There are three Fianos – Slate Farm from Clare Valley, River Sand from Riverland, and Alluvium from Adelaide Hills. Brendan assured me that I should get a bottle of each and try them side by side, which is exactly what I did. They come from different soils and different climates so their flavour profile is quite different, but you won’t notice it so much if you don’t have them all open at the same time, so get some friends around and go nuts!
They’re also keen on the Italian red varietals. Halcyon Days is a Nero d’Avola from Riverland, while Pipe Dream is a Nero from Adelaide Hills. Again, try them side by side.
Move up another notch to about $50 per bottle and you’ve got the Exocarpos Nebbiolo and Dreamer’s Creed Fiano. I haven’t tried these yet, but I’m expecting big things!
In short, put together a mixed six pack or a dozen, and explore some wines made with passion that will expand your horizons.
If you think their wines are diverse, just wait until you meet their gins. The standard gin is a great little starter; my one regret is that it only comes in a 500ml bottle. It works particularly well in a gin martini, or in a G&T with lots of citrus, because it has a bunch of finger lime and desert lime in it. Add a bit of peppermint, saltbush, macadamia and 22 other botanicals, and it’s pretty complex stuff!
Then they released the Seven Deadly Gins series. The Gin of Lust, for example, is red due to loads of cherries. The Gin of Sloth was, quite literally, forgotten about for a while and just sat there. The Gin of Wrath contains chillies. The Gin of Gluttony contains… bacon! Many of these are sold out now, but sign up to the mailing list because you know there’s something cool just around the corner. And check out the store for some great Negroni ingredients.