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When reviewing the inaugural 2014 vintage of the Unico Zelo Cherry Fields Dolcetto, The Wine Front’s Mike Bennie said the following:
“It’s everything Aussie reds should be for those seeking ease of drinking, companions for food, gateway wines for white drinkers. Show the world. Encore.”
Strong words, but that was such a unique wine, and this 2016 release is just as impressive. Once again it comes from the Polish Hill River sub-region of the Clare Valley, a place Brendan and Laura Carter love sourcing fruit from.
When you think Dolcetto you think sweet, fruity reds, but this is anything but. Wildly aromatic, vibrantly juicy and surprisingly structural, this is a lot of wine built into not a lot of body.
The Carters recommend this wine for “eating with your hands”, and 20 minutes in the fridge would do it no harm at all. It’s different, yes, but most of all it’s just one of those reds that is near impossible to put down.
What It Tastes Like
Aromas of cherries and plums on the nose, with a subplot of gentle, dusty spice. The mouthfeel of this wine is superb. It’s medium-bodied at best, round and fruit-sweet before gradually fading away to palate cleansing acidity and some mighty fine tannins. Those tannins are a standout feature of the wine. Playful but serious all at once, and eminently drinkable.
93 points. “This is a drink! Huzzah! How do you do? Smells like a bunch of sweet flowers, cut with spice, sniffs of cherry jam, young port and berries straight off the bush. The palate is sweetish, plush-warm upfront, chalky-dry in tannins, bright in acidity, finds a stride and length. Indeed, it’s both beautiful in bouncy fruit character and refreshing cut. Nails the brief. Indeed, locks it down. Buy for summer.”
- Mike Bennie (The Wine Front)
A foray into a very exciting piece of dirt - known as Polish Hill River (Clare Valley). We once told ourselves, that if we weren’t looking at the Adelaide Hills for the best sites for our varieties - it’d be Clare Valley. Inland, continental climate, warms days and cold nights. Not to mention slate-ridden soils that pebble all through the vineyard. It’s the sort of thing that winemakers live for - and we’re pleased to say our punt on this family-owned vineyard has paid off. That’s not to take the thunder away from our tiny Adelaide Hills vineyard, which provides the aromatic spark of life to this wine. Known as the ‘little sweet one’ in its homeland - although all the Dolcetto crafted there are most definitely dry. It’s the impression of fruit sweetness (or juiciness) that gives an effect of confection - smells sweet, tastes dry. This cheeky Dolcetto is no different - an aromatic, bright and tight little dry red that’s absolutely perfect for chilling down and drinking (rather quickly) during those warm balmy days, when whites just don’t cut the mustard. It’s a creative wine for creatives - great results from Dolcetto-Sangria too! The general rule that we live by - if you’re eating with your hands - you need Dolcetto on the table.
This wine continues to amaze us. Not only is it the easiest wine to craft each vintage, it seems to take care of itself in the vineyard too. It’s the only vineyard we haven’t had to roll into - and pull on all the gear sticks to get right - it was right all along - just ignored. We’ve garnered greater richness this vintage - but without lacking the attitude-driven tannins this wine is known for. Aromatics have become wildly more characteristic of Dolcetto - but the silken palate weight is where the party’s at.
Closure: Screw Cap
Bottle Size: 750ml
About the Producer
Unico Zelo is the project of winemaking couple Brendan and Laura Carter. In their words, their aim is to create “Italian-inspired, textural and site-expressive wines” and “Australian examples of Mediterranean varieties in an approachable and jovial fashion.”
Since bursting onto the scene in 2014 with their eye-catching, outrageously good value alternative vino, the Carters have spread their wings and their range. They now make a large suite of wines, including single vineyard examples of Fiano, Nero d’Avola and Nebbiolo. They are one of the most dynamic winemaking duos in the Adelaide Hills.
The Clare Valley knows what it does, and does it very, very well. Riesling and Shiraz are the rockstars of the region and with some of the most famous wines in the county coming from this small pocket of SA, the Clare’s reputation for quality only grows year on year.
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