Sassafras Gamay Ancestral 2014

Paul Starr and Tammy Braybrook have nailed it. Tapped the zeitgeist with a postmodern twist, while feeling out a wine style that excited them. With confidence. Starr is a fella who seems ready to question but ready to learn, whip smart on the wine stuff, draws in influence from all over. Works in the Canberra wine world but with questions and learning that go further. Gamay from the Tumbarumba vineyard that Penfolds Bin 311 comes from (who’d want that at a Big Company?). Sees a cool, long, partial ferment before being sent to bottle without fear of the yeast randomiser and bottle lottery.

“Brewers’ experiences with bottle-conditioning ales certainly don’t support some of the winemaker-fears that yeast and sugar sent to bottle equals gushers, cloudies and mousey taints”, says Starr. Patience with the ferment and some lateral winemaking nous helps with these living wine styles.

When I visit producers who have a long history with petillant naturel or metodo ancestral wines, part of the thrill of being near the live wines is the random hiss and pop in the background. Indiscriminate gushers, exploding bottles, opening wines up in buckets of water to quell the foamy overflows; I opened this over a sink expecting the same. Satisfying wheeze of a crownseal and puff of fruity smoke. Nothing. Tipped into glass. No cocked eyebrow on murkiness (not that that would stop me), bright fizz, audible froth. Looks the goods. Can’t wait for the savagnin pet nat from 2015. Now…

Top shelf pet nat. Never thought I’d say that; usually just guzzle the stuff down and shift on. It’s bright and vibrant in glass. Near the rim and musk, rose water and gentle sweet vanilla whiffs show with a dash of alpine herbs. Foamy mouthfeel, good creamy texture shifts to mouthwatering cranberry acidity. Bubbles are big and friendly, fruit is sweet-sour and there’s a lick of neat bitterness to whip the palate to fresh. Yum. This is fine, fresh and ballistically delicious. Sign up now.



Tasted : MAY15
Alcohol : 12.1%
Price : $24
Closure : Crownseal
Drink : 2015 - 2016
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