Up in the Adelaide Hills is a little town called Basket Range. Now surrounded by vineyards, the area is stunning but it was Phil Broderick who saw the area’s potential and first planted vines in the ‘80s. Basket Range Wines is now run by Phil and his wife Mary who showed us around, told us their stories and let us try their lovely wines.
So I’m more about the weird, natural wines these days which is Phil and Mary’s sons set up. Louis and Sholto make wines under the same name as their parents, Basket Range Wines but with a natural lens on them. The guys weren’t around on this trip so this story focuses on Phil and Mary’s wines which are also organic, very low intervention and the vines sprayed with copper and sulphur only to keep everything in check.
It was probably a good thing the boys weren’t around as I’d brought my parents on the trip and I have WORK to do convincing my Dad that natural wines are good (more on that later). It’s also great to strike a balance between the two.
The Broderick Family
Let’s start from the beginning. Up on Blockers Road is Mary and Phil’s house, shed and vineyard. The family previously lived in the valley which was pretty cold as they didn’t get sunlight until around 11am in the morning during winter – brrr. So after spending time making small batch wines from Bordeaux varieties, the family moved up the hill in the early 2000s, where they now live with their dog Annie (who I love).
Phil and Mary grow largely red grape varieties with the majority of grapes being Pinot Noir. They also have Cab Sav, Merlot and Petit Verdot on the go which makes for a nice blend we got to try during our tasting with the Broderick’s.
At the time of writing this, fires are raging in NSW and Phil has his own experience with fires down in the Adelaide Hills too. In 2013 Phil and his sons were watching the fires creep up the valley, putting out spot fires from embers in the vineyard and considering abandoning their home and livelihood before aerial firefighters dropped water that saved their livelihood. They also put it down to the local CFS volunteers who helped them get through the hardest days and save the local area. So they’ve seen their fair share of adversity.
Moving out of the vineyard and in to winemaking, it’s about a two month period between picking the grapes and pressing off the skins. And so as our vineyard tour ends, we help get a door out the shed, assemble a table and gather round for the tasting.
Here’s the tasting line up we went through with Phil and Mary:
- Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier 2018 – a great blend, a little tannic, would be delish with food
- Pinot Noir 2017 – my first favourite, smooth, red fruits
- Merlot 2016 – black fruits, rich and warm
- Petit Verdot 2016 – brilliant colour, intensely bold and fruity vibes
- Cab Sav, Merlot, Petit Verdot blend 2017 – second favourite, grippy not strippy tannins and 5% christmas pudding flavours
Big reds ay? Are you wondering how Phil decides what to blend and bottle? Simple really, he gets tasters over and lets them decide, going with the majority in favour. They discuss mouthfeel, length, palate, tannins and most importantly, fruit, looking to avoid ‘dumb’ wines where you can’t smell anything but also avoiding the ‘jam bombs’ at the other end of the spectrum. Basically, you can forget your lab coats! Leave them at home and getting stuck in with good company is the best method.
What I really liked to hear is that Phil and Mary agree that women are the better tasters and have better palates. Apparently we have more receptors/are more receptive 😉
Amazing to see how things are done and how they can change from generation to generation. As Phil described his sons as “know it alls” you can tell he’s immensely proud of them and the work they’ve done together as a family.
If you’re in the area, I would highly suggest giving Mary and Phil a call. We loved our time there and left with three bottles of wine to carry back to Sydney!
Want to see my round up of other wineries in the area? Find out more on Basket Range Wines on the blog.