Well, well, here's a project we can absolutely get behind. Australian importer, winemaker and all around legend, Alice L'Estrange, has found herself making some ultra-compelling wines under the label Strange Grapes. She's working from a dirt-floor winery in the tiny town of Guarilihue, Itata, Southern Chile. Throughout the process, she is deliberate in ensuring sustainability is front of mind – from the re-purposed/recycled glass sourced for bottles, to recyclable sugar-cane corks and the artists she supports who design her labels. If holistic wasn't such a wanky word, we'd use it here as the by-line.
These lo-fi wines are, of course, anchored in sustainable practices – she sources grapes from super old dry-grown bush vines, supports small growers where and re-uses old, often abandoned fermenters and foudres of raulí (large ageing vessel made from native beech used before the arrival of French oak). Besides running her own vineyards, Alice's ultimate vision is to fully support small, traditional 'viñateros' of the area in their transition/reversion to full organics and regenerative practices. This is but her first release and we can't wait to see what she does next...
Cracklin' Rose – frisky, crunchy, watermelon meets sour cherry tang. This would go down a treat sitting in the sun while enjoying some fresh ocean air. Or a park with some grass. Or a little balcony in Paddington. Just anywhere outside really...
Pastiche – skinsy, chalky, even mulchy. A rather clever interpretation of a traditional Southern white. Amazing detail, texture and sense of time and place.
La Sol de Coelemu – a super interesting (accidental) co-ferment of traditional pink/white Itata varieties resulted in this pinkish/orangeish super drinkable wine.
Barrica Rica – 100% pais from vines that are over 200 years old. Remarkable. Plump and juicy but with ultra-fine almost silty tannins. 11/10.
Perro Negro – named after the poor old neglected vineyard dog who blossomed in the right loving hands. Juicy, bright and oh so refreshing.
La Cargadora – 100% cinsault aged under flor in pipeno. A little gruff and earthy, but in the best possible way. Simple. Pure. Delightful.