Unique Australian portfolio addition shows great zeal with Italian varietals

Unico Zelo is a small winery, run by the youthful Brendan and Laura Carter. Still only in their mid-twenties, this dynamic couple have been making wine under the Unico Zelo label for the last seven years, taking their inspiration from their intense passion for their native land. The wines are crafted from varieties best suited not only to their terroir and current climate but for that of the foreseeable future; varieties that are drought- and heat-resistant, and can retain acidity in the sometimes scorching heat of South Australia. The in-depth study of vineyard sites in South Australia led Brendan and Laura to focus on Italian varieties, such as Fiano and Nero d’Avola which are perfectly suited to being dry-farmed in the arid Riverland as well as Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Barbera which flourish in the inland, continental climate of the Clare Valley. Working in partnership with likeminded growers, they have been able to secure continuous sources for the high quality grapes needed to produce these exciting, characterful wines. Their unflinching dedication to promoting sustainability, minimal intervention – both in the vineyard and the winery – and co-operative initiatives rewarding and empowering great growers through their Harvest range are echoed in their maxim, “From the land we belong to.” These delicious and unique wines combine sustainability and drinkability to great effect.

The Unico Zelo range is comprised of five wines. The Jade & Jasper Fiano is sourced from unirrigated, seven year old vineyards planted on iron oxide rich sandy soils over a limestone base, near to the town of Waikerie in the Riverland. Following a brief period of skin contact prior to pressing, fermentation took place oxidatively and without temperature control in stainless steel, using only wild yeast. Combining a bracing acidity with the textured, waxy mouthfeel so typical of the variety, this Fiano is crisp yet fully ripe, combining green apples, peach blossom and honeydew melon with a savoury, pithy complexity.

Esoterico Orange Wine is their ode to skin contact wine and is a blend of 40% Muscat d’Alessandria, 38% Bianco d’Alessano and 22% Riesling with fruit sourced from both the Riverland & Clare Valley. The grapes were fermented for two weeks on their skins in stainless steel, without temperature control and using only wild yeast. Following this the wine was matured for twelve months in a 3,500 litre oak foudre, before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. The result is a complex blend, combining aromatic rose petal and bitter marmalade notes with a tense acidity and a grippy, sapid finish with hints of smokey black tea.

Hailing from the Riverland, the eponymous The River Nero d’Avola comes from unirrigated, eight year-old vineyards planted on light clay and loam soils over a limestone base, near to the town of Barmera. Following a four day maceration, fermentation took place without temperature control in stainless steel, using only wild yeast. Dark and brooding but with a real freshness, this combines crunchy fresh blueberry fruit with hints of violet and bitter chocolate on the lengthy finish. A truly exuberant wine with both brightness and depth.