At the Australia day tasting back in January you could tell the response to the Alpha Box & Dice range was positive because they had the only queue in the room, and a disorderly one at that.
Less disorderly today are the orders, re-orders, and rhythm of requests for these brilliant, discordantly-labelled liquids. Behind the album-cover eye candy are olfactory feasts too, with bright, delightful expressions of cultivars that clearly also belong in Oz – Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Barbera and that modern Aussie staple: Grenache. Back in January the air in the room was sucked clean out by the audible intake of breath as a hundred Hoxton hipsters, velcro-ed to each other by their beards, swirled then expectorated the long-expected Golden Mullet Fury’s orange charms. But there is much more to AB&D than this.
The wines are made with great respect for European heritage but with the confidence to abandon this also in favour of a truer local expression, being neither bionic or ironic in style but fresh, alive and essential.
The company has been around for over 10 years now, the last few of which have seen brothers Dylan and Justin Fairweather take the reins of the wine-pistol-toting toucan that is Alpha Box & Dice along with hugely talented winemaker Sam Berketa. The visceral labels and varietal intent belie a very structured, gentle, even modest team here, clearly having a lot of fun but equally taking very seriously their blossoming global reputation for fantastic contemporary Australian wine. The wines are made with great respect for European heritage but with the confidence to abandon this also in favour of a truer local expression, being neither bionic or ironic in style but fresh, alive and essential. They are a small winery with a huge heart and major ambitions to make great wine, not great volumes and while there is a core of wines to be repeated annually, expect a churn of experiment to boot.
We’re not sure 26 letters is enough so AB&D have already started tapping up the Swedish alphabet.
Let us present five stunners from the collection:
Alpha Box & Dice Golden Mullet Fury Semillon Viognier, McLaren Vale 2014/15
A field planting, co-fermented with three weeks on skins then at least 14 months in old barrels; this is not so much an orange wine as a tiger in a pith-helmet, all claws, teeth and texture.
Alpha Box & Dice ‘Tarot’ Grenache, McLaren Vale 2016
Among the most life-affirmingly lifted, positive drops to behold this year. Chill it.
Alpha Box & Dice Dead Winemaker’s Society Dolcetto, Adelaide Hills 2015
A sublimely pure and alarmingly quaffable Dolcetto with a core of bright, juicy fruit but with the varietal’s textural, savoury edge.
Alpha Box & Dice Enigma Barbera, Adelaide Hills 2015
Just a delicious thing. Vibrant, pretty, bitter cherry noted with deep, savoury undertones.
Alpha Box & Dice Fog Nebbiolo, Adelaide Hills 2014
This essentially eponymous label marries the varietal’s Grenache-sucked-through-a-brick business with a soft plumpness that is abundantly huggable, satisfying and true.