We had the pleasure of Owen Latta's company last week and got to check out his range of newly released wines under the Latta Vino banner.
We can honestly say, hand on heart, the wines blew us away.
Owen is a rare winemaking talent who grew up on his family's winery, Eastern Peake, just outside Ballarat. Now, at the age of 33 he could probably boast (though he never would) more winemaking runs on the board than anyone his own age.
Owen made his first wine at the age of 15 in his father Norm's winery. It was a Pinot Noir from the family vineyard, made by following his Old Man's philosophy.
"Dad's rules were pretty simple." he says, "No new oak. Don't muck with the fruit. Keep an eye on it."
Owen has now been making wine for more than half of his life. And, apparently, almost two decades later, that wine is still alive and kicking.
Today Owen is setting the Australian wine industry on fire with a two-pronged attack. First, a classic range of premium Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Syrahs under family Eastern Peake label. And second, his wilder stylings pushing the boundaries of the Australian winemaking avant-garde under Latta Vino.
The Latta Vino wines come from special, lovingly managed vineyards run by old family friends and relatives in his surrounding area.
The fruit is all sustainably grown, mostly with organic or biodynamic principals. Very low, or more often, zero levels of sulphur in the winemaking and no other additions of any kind.
These are "natural wines", as true to the definition as anything you will find but their clarity and purity fly in the face of many nay-sayers of the natural winemaking movement.
Clean? Definitely. Delicious? Absolutely!
They are unlike anything else you will find being made in Australia at the moment.
In Owen Latta, incredible intuition, originality and craftsmanship have converged into a beverage-making phenom who is now in full flight.
If you take a punt on one "natural producer" this year, make sure it is this guy!