Meet the Winemakers: La Curio, Dabblebrook and Dodgy Brothers


Q&A with Adam Hooper, La Curio

Adam was a sapling when he graduated from Roseworthy College with an oenology degree and even after 25 vintages he remains open to learning more. Not just in the art of winemaking but also as a mentor, for as he passes on his skills he, in turn, learns from the younger winemakers coming into the industry.

It’s a humility that reaps rewards, for La Curio consistently attracts scores in the 90s by wine critic, James Halliday, and the reserve wines shine with trophies, medals, stars, and commendations.

Adam, what is one of the wines you will present at the Vale Cru long lunch on November 20?

The 2015 Aglianico Rosé. It’s called The Selfie; basically because it’s the style of Rosé I like to drink.

What can we expect in the bottle?

Aglianico is an Italian variety which grows well in McLaren Vale. I’ve sourced the fruit for this wine from the Tatachilla sub-region. On crushing I gave it 24 hours on skin contact. I’m not fussed about the colour, it’s the texture, the nice tannins that I was after.

The wine has got red fruits coming through. It’s quite savoury with pithy acids and flavours of pomegranates with a hint of cranberry.

It’s a very dry and textural wine, which will pair well with chilly heat such as Asian style food.

What are you looking forward to?

Chatting to excited people about the wines.

How important is your relationship with the grower?

It’s very important. They all strive to grow quality fruit and I’ve been sourcing fruit from some growers for 25 years.

I source from 17 different blocks and make eight wines and apart from the vintage side of things I believe the growers know their vineyard better than I would, so I follow their dire


Q&A with Ian Adam, Dabblebrook

 Ian is an exceptional cook and winemaker, with an impressive palate. Influenced no doubt by years in and out of the hospitality industry. Or could it be in his genes? With an uncle who was Prince Charles’ personal chef, you have to wonder. But where did that hands-on-give-it-all-you’ve-got approach to winemaking come from? Hand-picking, plunging and destemming are common practises for Vale Cru winemakers, but foot stomping? We’d say it was his vintage in provincial France that sparked that extra level of wine immersion, but it’s something Ian has done long before that venture.

Whatever it is, he makes exceptional wine.


Ian, what is one of the wines you will present at the Vale Cru long lunch?

We chose our 2016 Grenache because it’s made for occasions such as this.


What’s in the bottle?

Fruit from our 20 acre vineyard on the Sellicks foothills. It’s 100 per cent estate grown, single vineyard, McLaren Vale Grenache.

It’s a bright, juicy and unoaked wine made in the Joven style, so it’s lighter, quite textural with open sandy tannins.

It’s a wine to have fun with, to drink young, and enjoy with food.


What are you looking forward to on the day?

Showing all the new release and back vintage Vale Cru wines to the punters and as Libbi and I are ‘doers of lunch’ we’re looking forward to a relaxed Sunday afternoon with good company, enjoying good food, good wines, and laughter.


How has your French vintage influenced your winemaking?

I have a higher appreciation for the Old World mindset: don’t rush, enjoy the process, enjoy the camaraderie.

As small batch winemakers that’s what we try to do, but over there it’s what they do without trying.

And it made me appreciate McLaren Vale and Australia more.

What I came home with was the idea of blending the best processes from France with what we do here. It’s what we do in Australia, we travel and learn and create our own style.


Q&A with Wes Pearson, Dodgy Brothers

Peter Bolte (viticulturist), Peter Sommerville (grape grower) and Wes Pearson (winemaker) are the Dodgy Brothers - but there’s nothing dodgy about their high-quality wines. Website, maybe. Upside down? It’s a clear message that these lads are non-conformists. They’re turning the perception that wine is pretentious and exclusive on its head. And that’s a good thing. The essence of wine is to bring people together, to be inclusive and approachable. There’s nothing dodgy about that!

What is one of the wines you will present at the Vale Cru long lunch?

The 2014 Archetype Grenache.

What can we expect in the bottle?

It’s a lighter more perfumed style Grenache from Sellicks foothills sub-region.

I’m reluctant to describe its attributes because everyone sees everything differently. That’s why we don’t provide back labels. You can decide for yourself. But for me, I taste a mix of red fruits with floral notes quite perfumed and then medium bodied on the palate, but still with some richness, and a soft finish.

See what I mean “soft finish” sounds good what does it mean? Not astringent.

What are you looking forward to?

The best thing about all of these events is that many of us don’t have cellar doors so this is an opportunity to meet people who are drinking the wines, chat with them, interact with them.

Another thing is that Vale Cru winemakers – not a marketer or cellar door manager – but the person who grew the grapes, made the wine, they’re the ones you’ll be talking to. The person who put their blood sweat and tears into it, so there’s that intimacy. There’s a level of authenticity. It’s mine. I know it so well.

A distinguishing feature of the McLaren Vale wine region is its sustainable practises …

McLaren Vale is proactive; it’s at the cutting edge in establishing sustainable practises and providing help for growers to comply with best practises.

McLaren Vale is a perfect place to grow grapes.

It’s hot enough every year for the grapes to ripen and it’s dry enough that we don’t have a lot of disease pressure, and because of the proximity to the Gulf we have this lovely gully wind every afternoon that blows through the vineyards.

This means we don’t need to always be spraying insecticide, herbicide, and pesticide.

From a growers perspective if they can manage their vineyard using minimal sprays they’re protecting their investment – their grapes – and benefitting economically as well – and that’s an excellent trait of sustainability.

James HookComment