Over the past sixty years, one of our founding mantras as an independent is to seek out hard to find, new and exciting wine for our customers to try. Wines they simply cannot get anywhere else and wines they trust. Every now and again we unearth an absolute gem.
As a big fan of the allure of Nebbiolo, I was leafing through a copy of the Antipodean magazine Gourmet Traveller in around 2010 and I stumbled across an article highlighting some new kids on the block of the Aussie winemaking scene. Enter Dave Fletcher with an interesting CV making wine in both Burgundy and Kazakhstan, yes Kazakhstan. Following a wine degree at Adelaide Uni, Dave had decided to spread his wings and managed to land a seasonal job at the renowned Ceretto estate in Piemonte. The way Dave spoke about Nebbiolo, not shying away from what a “bastard” varietal it could be and how his work in Italy had inspired him to make a couple of Nebbiolos from the Adelaide hills and Pyrenees in Southern Australia. He picked his sites, and his method was all about minimal intervention, old oak and letting the different vineyards express themselves in the glass.
I was totally intrigued with his method and I managed to persuade him to send me a couple of bottles to try with the team. The deal was sealed, and we were immediately massive fans. We hadn’t tasted this type of Nebbiolo from Australia before; they were both so very different and expressive. Liking the wines and their supercool labels was one thing, but they were produced in such small quantities it became folly to try to find a way to ship them over to the UK.
Luckily for us, what started as a seasonal job at Ceretto in Piemonte became a fulltime proposition for Dave and he moved out to Barbaresco with his family soon after. His day job was very much leading production of the red wines of Ceretto, making top quality and eye-wateringly expensive Barolos and Barbarescos. Weekends and evenings were spent finding sites and buying grapes to make his own Barolo and Barbaresco. A Langhe Chardonnay and a red blend soon followed.
A fair amount of our correspondence at this time revolved about ribbing each other’s sporting losses and victories when the Aussies played the Poms in either rugby or cricket. All the while patiently waiting to get stuck into and ship over his first offerings from Piemonte; we were all excited to start the journey with him even with such small quantities. When he sent over his first wines back in around 2012, I knew we had found that gem.
Coming up on a decade now, we have been working with Dave and he has enhanced his range over that time. He hasn’t changed his principal focus to get the best sites and grapes he can though, and get them in the bottle with minimal intervention. This gentle approach allows his wines to have such exquisite expression but with bags of structure. Nebbiolo can be somewhat of a trickster in the glass; its thin skin can make it very light in appearance, but as in the case of Dave’s wines, not in structure. They are also very accessible in their youth but will also stand the test of time.
After purchasing the old railway station in Barbaresco in around 2014, Dave, Eleanor and their two girls moved in [post renovation] to make a family home in amongst some of Barbaresco’s finest vineyards. Fifty percent of the vineyards Dave works with are certified organic and the rest are under conversion to organic. Not wanting to contribute to an ever-increasing monoculture in the Langhe, he offsets the land used for his grape production with ownership of the equivalent area in forest, swamp, and grasslands rich in biodiversity.
Dave has now also released some of his first wines under the Cantina Stazione (the station) label. Nebbiolo is still very much his passion, but the Stazione label has allowed him to bring some exciting new wines into the fold. And that Langhe Chardonnay. I could go on.
This range of wines are available exclusively through us in the UK. Every time we get his new vintage release there is a flurried rush for them. We always try to hold a few back and release them later, some of each are available below under the new releases.