Australia is best known for a relatively small handful of grape varietals, which have flourished over the past century or so, and have formed the backbone of the country’s wine identity. However, recent years have seen a flurry of exploration and experimentation into what key regions like Barossa Valley are capable of. This has seen an explosion of activity in planting different vines, and using today’s advanced knowledge of terroir and climatic conditions to identify where certain grapes might grow very well indeed, and add to the Aussie wine drinker’s palette of flavours. One such contributor to this pioneering explosion in viticulture has been Ricca Terra, a unique project run by the brilliantly geeky Ashley Ratcliff (who holds an MA in winemaking, and has a CV in viticulture which covers experience on 4 continents) and his partner Holly. Together, they’ve pieced together a superb cluster of Australian vineyards, and have made it their mission to experiment freely with Mediterranean grape varietals, and see just what the Australian soil and sunlight brings out in them.
To say they’ve made a success of it is something of an understatement. Ricca Terra has won numerous awards, and Ashley Ratcliff has been twice named Viticulturalist of the Year by the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology - high praise indeed for a business which revels in the alternative and eschews the predictable and populist. You won’t find any Shiraz on their land… but you will come across Fiano, Montepulciano, Vermentino, Orange Muscat, and many more besides. Today, they’re mostly experimenting with blends, and using a range of low-intervention techniques and forward-thinking methods, to bring the very best flavours of the Mediterranean-via-Australia to their fans.
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