DD Classified: The Pioneers

DD Classified: The Pioneers


Here comes the first instalment of celebrating the 60 producers in our Different Drop Classification!

And we're kicking it off with producers who are all resolutely individual, there are certain threads of commonality that link them. The common thread between the six highlighted today is a pioneering spirit.

They've been at the forefront of their chosen pursuits; be that in the way they farm, the way they tell the story of their region or the way they explore the art and craft of winemaking. We encourage each and every one of you to dive on in to their wonderful ranges.

In no particular order, here we go:


Mac Forbes

Mac Forbes has been one of the leading figures in establishing individual identities for the sub-regions of the Yarra Valley. It's an incredibly diverse region, from top to bottom, and Mac has done perhaps more than anyone to tell the unique stories of these individual pockets of his home.

These Village wines released today from the near-perfect 2021 vintage bridge the gap between Mac's Yarra Valley range and Single Vineyard range. They are lively, vivid premium expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Woori Yallock to Coldstream.

These are very scarce and have been quickly snapped up by Mac's devotees. We've managed to get our hands on a small parcel of all eight wines and they look and taste excellent. 





La Violetta

Western Australia's own 'Prince of Pet Nat', AJ Hoadley was a game-changer for the Great Southern region when he first unveiled his whimsical range of wines back in 2010. In a region where classical renditions of Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet were the status quo, AJ brought a sense of playfulness and creativity to the forefront.

We have seven new arrivals from AJ available for you today, including the most popular of his fleet of excellent Pet Nats, the much-loved Patio Nat which typically sells out in very short order. The rest of the mötley crew of fresh arrivals includes delectable Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Vermentino and some curious and creative blends.

There are many producers who fly close to the sun in terms of lo-fi or minimal interventionist winemaking, however, few deliver the consistency of quality that comes from the La Violetta cellar.

His list of wines may be longer than a phone book, but you can bet your bottom dollar that no matter what you sample under the La Violetta banner it will be surprising, slurpable, seductive and even cerebral to taste.




Brash Higgins

Brad Hickey is an American turned honorary-Aussie who churns out some of the most expressive wines of McLaren Vale. The name of his label comes from a nickname he earned at one of his past winery jobs, and whether you're looking for 'classic' or avant-guarde, the Brash Higgins range has it all.

The NDV Nero d'Avola would be on our shortlist for the most innovative Australian wines of the last two decades. Winemaker Brad and his partner Nicole Thorpe kicked off a seismic shift in the McLaren Vale region when they introduced the first release of this amphora-fermented, organically-farmed, naturally made Nero eleven vintages ago. We've got the 2021 vintage right here for you today, and it's just as excellent as ever.

His wines are sure to charm and surprise as well as leave you utterly delighted.






S.C. Pannell

Steve Pannell is an innovator and pioneer of so many aspects of modern Australian wine culture that we take for granted today.

He was instrumental Australia's rapid adoption of more sustainable grape varieties for our warmer South Australian regions, championed alternative varieties that better suit our food culture, and led the charge for the modern excellence of Australian Grenache, long before it was in vogue.

Pannell is one of the great innovators of his generation and you should absolutely explore his exceptional range.






Bryan Martin never stands still and is constantly in a state of evolution for his estate label based in Murrumbateman.

His recent innovations around ecological farming are fascinating, as are his delicious and detailed wines. His blistering new 2022 Regional Riesling is flying out the door and is the perfect Springtime-sipper! 

The whole range of wines under the Ravensworth label have been some of the hottest stuff coming out of the Canberra region, and Bryan is certainly a flag-bearer of what this part of Australia can produce.






Frankland Estate

In 1988, Frankland Estate was one of the original vineyards planted in Australia's most isolated wine region, WA's Great Southern. In the more than three decades since founders Barrie Smith and Judi Cullam, along with their children, have continued to develop as one of the West's foremost practitioners of organic viticulture.

Their cool climate Rieslings are regarded as some of the best in the region and the country with several single vineyard releases that could be a contender for Australia's Best Riesling.

Frankland Estate is a cutting a mean wave through the industry and picking up a lot of recognition in the process, which is absolutely well deserved.



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