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First Drop Wines

Matt Gant and John Retsas are the two players behind First Drop wines. Between them they sport very impressive CV’s within the wine industry with numerous stints overseas (France, Italy, Spain, NZ, California) and at some of south Australia’s biggest addresses. Matt was winemaker at St Hallett when he was awarded the highly-regarded 'Young Winemaker of the Year' Award. And not long after striking out on his own to set up First Drop, Matt was further awarded with the 'Young Gun Wine Award' which recognises the talent and efforts of young winemakers who are pegged to shape the future of the Australian wine industry.

So the credentials are in good order, but what’s more interesting about First Drop is the way they’re helping kick into touch any number of preconceptions about Australian wine. First Drop, since its inception, has been all about pushing boundaries, both varietal and (sub)-regional and tickling the ribs and taste buds of their growing fan base with amusingly packaged, serious but always drinkable wines which are always expressive of place and region.

Perhaps the most interesting of First Drop’s excellent current range, are the three single vineyard Syrahs from the Eden Valley, named “Does Your Dog Bite?” The name relates to some connection with Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau, but I forget the specifics, and it’s really the wine inside that counts anyway. Quite aside from the allusive name and rather eyebrow-raising front label, these wines are truly exceptional. I tasted them at First Drop’s cellar door in Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley late last year and immediately put in an order on the spot. As soon as they landed we (all the staff) tasted the three of them together. All three wines are extremely impressive, and each with a quite distinct personality.

This isn’t “Aussie Shiraz” as you know it. These vineyards are at considerable altitude which has a dramatic effect on the flavour profile and resulting style of wine. More like northern Rhone Cornas or even Cote Rotie, particularly the Wilton and Craneford wines - the Moculta style being slightly more recognisably South Australian. For me the Wilton is the most compelling wine, absolutely addictive stuff, while the majority of staff preferred the Craneford and one or two preferred the Moculta! That’s the great thing about top quality wines like this: all three are terrific – they’re just all different too. We can’t recommend these wines highly enough. If you go for them, my guess is they’ll end up being the best wine Aussie wines you’ve tried in a very long time, just as they were for us.

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