IF a wine column mentions the magic words “Basket Range” one more time, you’ve got every right to scream in pain about the overload of publicity this tiny little corner of the wine globe has had for the minuscule number of litres it produces.
From the epicentre of the so-called natural wine movement in Australia, the noise generated by just a few Adelaide Hills shedistas has been an upwardly trending buzz in the past few years.
You either love it or loathe it and them: the increasingly loud rumble that is. And then there are wines.
Before and all the way through this new-generation chanting, the Broderick family, starting with Phillip and Mary and now including their two sons Louis and Sholto, have quietly gone about their business since the 1980s of growing grapes and making wine out of their sheds at Basket Range. They are the original Basket Rangers.
Their home vineyard, planted from 2001, and a couple of sheds where the winemaking occurs sit on top of one of the many hills that make up this tiny top of the pops district, rows sitting neatly like a garden around the family house, reaching over a rise then plunging rollercoaster like down into a valley below.
The grapes defy the fashion of Hills plantings — Phil Broderick has always loved his Bordeaux family of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot, while there also is a more regionally devotional block of pinot noir.
Being at the top of a hill and gathering all the sun rays that hit the spot, these ripen more readily than other spots on the Hills. Yet cool nights temper and lengthen the flavour and structural backbones enabling Phil and Mary to developed a pleasing, traditional style for their Basket Range Wine outings over more than 15 years.
In the past five of those, around them has blossomed a community of disruptive, maverick, experimental winemakers who have attracted plenty of attention for their “natural”, “artisan”, “raw”, “fresh” “rustic” styles of wine. Call them what you will.
The Brodericks sell some of their crop to such neighbours, and with their two sons now involved with both the family and helping out in nearby sheds, it’s not surprising that a bit of new era thinking is revealing itself in their more traditional outings — some wild yeast now working its magic in fermentations, and earlier harvests to capture fresher, fruitier acidity and flavour profiles.
The Basket Range Wine 2016 Pinot Noir ($35) from Mary and Phil Broderick is a delightfully delicate style showing some of that modern thinking, still quite primary with raspberry and almost cranberry like freshness.
Alongside it, son Sholto has held on to one of two barrels of early picked fruit to make a separate style without added sulphur, the result being crunchier and with more obvious acidity which provides a pithy, powdery mouthfeel. (The other barrel went into the family blend.)
Back to mum and dad and a Basket Range Wine 2016 Cabernet Merlot ($35) blend (60:40) reflects of the vineyard proportions and is beginning to unfold with berry, capsicum and cherry skins senses — open it, drink it over a few days and see more varietal black berry and currant fruit unfurl; or rest it in a cellar for 5-10 years.
Beside it Sholto’s Basket Range Wine 2016 Red is a two-thirds merlot, one third cabernet mash up, co fermented in layers and resulting in a deliciously drinkable, berry fruit vibrant drink with a more-ish, chalky mouthfeel. Most of this wine has been grabbed by a smart little restaurant in Sydney called Ester, but you might be lucky to find some in Adelaide as well.
There’s also a Basket Range Wine 2016 Merlot ($35) that’s rich with purple plum fruit and fine coating tannins mid palate that sets up a medium to full bodied palate while allowing the flavours and energy to flow with ease, finishing soft and plush.
Not to be left out, son Louis helps out in the winemaking and also makes a Barrel Cider (by Basket Range Wines) direct from the family’s own few Johnathon and Summer Strawberry apple trees. It’s fragrant with cinnamon spice with a delicious, salivating dry texture.
The embrace of both generations here is something to cherish. The wines have taken their own path, as have the Broderick parents and boys.
They have plenty of earnest discussion about what goes on in their sheds, what grows in the garden, and what next to do with this or that row of grapes.
“The best thing,” says Sholto, “is we keep it all very close to home.”