A young man leaves New York restaurant life in 1989 “to make the world his wilderness” and settles in South Australia to make unusual and all natural wines.
Named as one of the top sommeliers in the US, Brad Hickey served as the wine director for famed New York City restaurants Bouley and Danube. Why the switch to winemaker?
Love, of coarse.
A native of Chicago, he met his future wife working an Australian wine harvest for the renowned Shiraz winemaker, Chris Ringland.
The couple decided to settle in the wine region of McLaren Vale and created the label, Brash Higgins.
Per the back of the wine bottle, “Brash Higgins is an idea, an alias, a ticket to ride, a place to hide. For the love of an Aussie lady and a place in the vineyard–in darkness lurks a chance.”
Per the website, they “seek to capture the essence of McLaren Vale’s sun and soil” using natural and traditional techniques to make minimal intervention wines.
This particular wine is made from the Zibbibo grape, from the Muscat family thought to have originated in Egypt and thus is known as the Muscat of Alexandria. Often used to make dessert wine, such as Passito from Italy, it also makes smooth, soft, and structured still wines.
Perhaps most unusual is that the grapes are the size of golf balls. I just couldn’t picture it, nor could I find an actual picture of what these large grapes might look like.
Per the winery, “the varietal was chosen for its potential to develop length and complexity from longer skin contact, the wine is fruity yet bone dry; reminiscent of something from Alice in Wonderland, where things aren’t always as they seem.”
And a taste of this atypical wine made in the amphorae method in terracotta pots with skin contact did indeed reveal an unexpected mouthful.
As Brad said in this article from The Buyer, the amphorae method yields “mouthwatering tannin and acidity…as well as a warmth, vibrancy and prettiness not found in oak, steel or concrete. Plus, these 200 litre vessels are hand thrown on the wheel by a local potter using clay sourced from near our vineyard; as a wine geek, that’s irresistible.”
2020 Brash Higgins ZBO Amphora
Ricca Terra Farms, The Riverland, Australia; hand picked; sustainable viticulture
100% Zibbibo, 13.2% ABV, 150 days in Amphorae; $25 from K&L Wine Merchants
Visual: hazy daffodil, tangerine wisps
Aroma: buttered pears, pastry cream, vanilla, white gardenias, honeydew, fresh cut grass, musk, smelled different with each swirl
Taste: sit up straight pucker at the beginning that mellows with a little bit of tanning, descends into a full mouth finish, kumquat rind, savory cookies, green olive, medium acid, a trip downtown to funky town
Pairing: As the Brad stated in Good Food, the wine “really holds its own with spicy food and complex flavours so chefs and sommeliers love it.”
I decided to try it with a simple sashimi plate of scallops, Atlantic salmon, ahi tuna, and albacore tuna. With the spicy wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce condiments, the wine didn’t shy away but became even bolder, floral, and surprisingly sweeter.
This is definitely a food friendly wine that I would love to try with other foods, if I can find it again. The wine shop sold out of it, but maybe they will bring back another vintage. Apparently, the Shiraz and Cabernet do well in the Chinese market for Brash Higgins, but the UK and US markets have taken to their more unusual, non-garden varietal wines.
Explore a world of Australian wines beyond Shiraz. Learn more about South Australian white wines from the World Wine Travel writers:
Crushed Grape Chronicles (Robin) discusses “Jim Barry Wines – 3 Generations making Clare Valley Riesling”
A Day In The Life On The Farm (Wendy) pairs “South Australian Chardonnay with Pesto Bruschetta Chicken”
Culinary Adventures with Camilla (Camilla) shares “Asparagus-Leek Velouté + Naturalis Sauvignon Blanc 2020”
Enofylz Wine Blog (Martin) digs into “Pewsey Vale – Eden Valley’s Original Riesling Monopole”
AdVINEtures (Chris & Allison) is exploring “South Australia Riesling”
My Full Wine Glass (Linda) discusses “Eden Valley Dry Riesling? Cool!”
Wine Predator ….. Gwendolyn Alley shares “Eight at the Gate: Sustainable Chardonnay In Wrattonbully, South Australia”
Savor the Harvest (Lynn) discusses “Paxton Wines – Biodynamic Pioneer in South Australia”
Food Wine Click! (Jeff) shares “Eden Valley Shines Among South Australia Whites“
Our Good Life (Terri) tells us about “Tait Family Wines and a Family Tradition Meal“