The Barbera was easy drinking, biodynamically produced with minimum sulphur in Italy and, apart from coming in a two-litre box, was not dissimilar to other good quality red wines produced with minimum intervention.
“With increasing wine prices in both Europe and Australia we are looking at ways of keeping wines that are well farmed and direct from producers under $10 a glass,” says James Hird, the group’s wine director. “It’s getting harder to find wines that offer good provenance, quality and value. In particular the lower-priced wines tend to have an ingredients list that raises eyebrows.”
Now they’ve introduced goon number two – the very cute looking 2018 Owen’s Big Orange Field Blend, which has been made exclusively for the group by Owen Latta of Victoria’s Latta Wines, one of the country’s more refined natural-wine producers. This second premium-cask-wine release is a whopping 10 litres.
Big Orange is an organic skin-contact orange wine from Pyrenees, about two hours west of Melbourne. It’s being poured for $9 a glass across the group, or is available for takeaway at The Dolphin Wine Room for $200 a cask.
Wine writer and co-owner of P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants Mike Bennie says cask wine has long had a bad rep. “The purported severity of the hangover from the product itself has been an issue,” he says. “The correlation between alleged lower-wine quality, affordability and the image of an inferior vessel from which to drink wine from have all conspired to give cask wine a bad name.
“But it’s a perfectly good and reliable way to store and pour wine, and a place in which innovation can flourish.”
You can try Big Orange at Icebergs, The Dolphin, Da Orazio and Bondi Beach Public Bar for $9 a glass, or buy it at The Dolphin Wine Room for $200.