Brendon Keys of BK Wines reminds me of the day I first got that ‘wow’ factor from a wine and of all the standout wines I ever tasted. This is artisan winemaking at its best. It reawakens that excitement and childish glee that comes when you discover a wine that is different, surprising and just plain delicious.
The Adelaide Hills is Australia’s largest wine region with a huge diversity in altitude – and therefore climate – and soils. Brendon chooses grapes from the best sites for each grape. All of his wines are single site and he lets the grapes speak. That is such an important part of the winemaking process that I believe has been lost by many in the industry in search of a coin.
Go back to your passion and let your senses decide.
I attended a tasting of BK Wines at the Barker Hotel in the Adelaide Hills on a beautiful sunny summer’s day, already very well aware of this winery’s quality. I was with a group of wine club members and staff from the Fassina family liquor stores.
The range includes a pinot grigio and pinot gris – and Brendon does differentiate the styles clearly. The gris is richer and fuller than the grigio, with some creaminess and pleasingly dry. The grigio is a lighter, fresher style preferred by the Italians.
There is a fresh and zesty gewürztraminer – a grape which is a personal favourite of mine as my followers will know (click on the Hugel link in this paragraph). This is not necessarily a sweet wine as some people seem to assume. In Alsace it is typically dry, oily and spicy with white blossom and rose petal aromas and white fruit flavours. A good example is the Hugel gewürztraminer from Alsace which you can buy in Australia and NZ and is well worth a try if you have never come across it. Brendon’s is more along the lines of a New World gewürztraminer, very light in colour with a highly perfumed nose and fresh fruit and floral flavours, with old French oak giving it the texture reminiscent of an Alsatian and a crisp fresh and long finish. It is rare to find a good gewürztraminer in Australia as it does better in cooler climates and with minimal intervention from the winemaker, but this qualifies as Brendon ticks both boxes.
One of my loves is good chardonnay. Brendon more than delivers with his One Ball and Swaby – both named after the vineyards from which the grapes are sourced. The One Ball has had 10% new French oak and the Swaby had 30% – both are fermented in the oak with wild yeasts – this gives a funkiness and complexity, and a touch of nuttiness and creaminess. Both are elegant, soft, long and delicious. Chardonnay has been maligned in the Australian press in recent years, but it is time to discard that uninformed, out-of-date and just-plain-wrong reputation and see what Australian chardonnay is really like and why we should be world beaters with this grape. I strongly recommend trying one or other (or both) of these wines – available from South Australia’s Fassina stores.
If you prefer your reds – Brendon more than delivers with his range of pinot noirs and syrahs, again, all French oak and single site wines. Brendon’s New Zealand heritage may explain why these wines stand out as being so good and so true to the grapes he carefully sources. The Rosetta and Cult are just two of the range:
The Rosetta pinot is soft and savoury with lively red cherries and a touch of spice on the palate and a delicate tannic structure, all in perfect balance.
The Cult syrah was a major hit with all of the Fassina group and was awarded 96 points by critic James Halliday. This wine really does have that wow factor. Made from Lobethal fruit, it has a beautifully generous nose of deep dark fruits with a touch of spice. It is warming, delicious and long. Or if you fancy something a touch lighter on a summer’s day, try the Syrah Nouveau lightly chilled – giving white pepper and raspberry, having had no oak treatment it is drunk young. Perfect for barbecues, or on its own.
So give these beauties a try – you really do get bang for your buck with reasonable prices and astounding quality. And no – I do not get commission – this is all from the heart. Enjoy the slideshow!