As many of you might already know, Brian Wines was conceived in Tasmania nine years ago by winemakers Peter Dredge (Dredgey), Joe Holyman and P&V co-founder, wine writer, Rootstock Sydney festival co-founder, Mike Bennie. Prior to this interstellar convergence of the minds, Mike had been going down for harvest and other winemaking experiments with Holyman at Stoney Rise estate (the well-established, biologically-farmed estate in Tamar Valley Tasmania) since 2010.
Then in 2012, the trio decided to produce a small range of wines reflecting alternative styles to the Tasmanian mainstream. All fruit is hand-picked, and wines are wild-fermented and see no additions, nor filtering or fining, with zero or small doses of sulphur. Brian emerged as a single puncheon in that first year and has been going strong ever since, with 2013 being exception due to poor harvest.
Running parallel to the Brian project back in Tassie, was Dredgey's yearly pilgrimage to Oregon in his 'off-season' where he would lend a hand making wine and offer a reciprocal opportunity for local Oregon winemakers to come back to Tasmania to help him out. From all historical accounts, it was lots of fun.
Fast-forward to 2017, when one of the winemakers, a guy called Kevin, asked old mate Dredgey to come make wine at this unbelievable place. Dredgey promptly needled Joe and Mike to join him and that year, the first Oregon vintages of Dr Edge and Brian Wines Oregon were born. The idea was to mirror what was being made in Tassie, using nearly identical winemaking approaches (not to mention under the same names, ‘Rizza’, ‘3Pinots’ and ‘Gris’) to see how they would look from the other side of the planet.
Brian Oregon primarily source from and produce at the remarkable Keeler Estate Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills (pictured above). The vineyard is certified organic, biodynamic, LIVE and Salmon safe. It has seen zero sprays at all (including copper and sulphur) for over a decade, is dry grown and is set on amazing, ancient sea-marine soils in a quiet pocket of Oregon framed by native oak savannah (being regenerated by Keeler) and a wetlands reserve. It’s an amazing place.
And here they are...
Rizza – this is an oxidative style riesling with the influence of flor yeast layer in its life. It features hand-picked, foot-stomped fruit, left on skins 48hrs and pressed to old barriques with natural ferment. It’s left on lees nine months under flor and then racked to bottle. An homage to sous voile Jura.
Gris – the ‘structured, complex, tannin shaped wine with refreshment factor on its side’. Hand-picked fruit is mostly destemmed (some whole bunch) and then fermented naturally on skins for over three months. It is then pressed and hangs out on lees in old oak barriques for nine months, then racked to bottle. Echoing inspirational wine styles of northeast Italy’s Friuli wine region. Hi Radikon.
3Pinots – like the Tasmanian version, this is the ‘light, fresh red’ wine, here a blend of pinots 60% noir, 20% gris, 20% blanc – hand-picked, de-stemmed and gently co-fermented for around 10 days on skins then pressed early to finish ferment in old oak barriques. Left on lees nine months, racked to bottle. The end.