Winery to Watch – Black & Ginger

Black & Ginger is the label of Hadyn Black and Darcy ‘Ginger’ Naunton, who met all the way back in 2002 at high school in Perth. Hadyn was very keen to make some wine but a lack of funds put the kibosh on that, until 2015 when Darcy stepped in and helped him buy one tonne of shiraz fruit from the famed Malakoff vineyard in the Pyrenees.

In 2016, Hadyn and partner Lucy bought a rundown vineyard in Great Western, a base from where they now make nine wines across 13 varieties. There’s a focus on some lesser-known grapes (at least in Australia) such as Graciano, Tinta Cão, and Orange Muscat, either sourced from their own vineyard or further afield in places such as Henty or the Alpine Valleys, although the big guns like Shiraz and Nebbiolo also get a look in.

This was my first time trying the wines from Black & Ginger, and to say that I was impressed would be an understatement. As you’ll see from the scores, I thoroughly enjoyed their wines and I honestly can’t wait to try some more from the next vintage.

2022 Black & Ginger ‘The Gypsy’ Vermentino – $33 – 96 points

Sourced from Kilnhouse Vineyard, Alpine Valleys. 12%abv

This was absolutely electric. The aromas of melon, nectarine, grapefruit and banana were simply glorious and I found myself sniffing the wine for an awfully long time before finally diving in. The palate is silky, chalky and zingy, with an abundance of acidity, making for a thoroughly enjoyable, almost full-bodied mouthfeel. The fruit flavours linger on and on and the acid continues right to the back of the palate. I found this wine actually better by itself than with food, which didn’t matter as it all went down quickly. A superb introduction to the Black and Ginger range and I reckon it could rest and improve in bottle for another 8 or so years.

2022 Black & Ginger ‘Miss Piggy’ Orange Muscat & Riesling – $29 – 95 points

Sourced from Arrawatta Vineyard, Great Western. 14.5%abv

‘Miss Piggy’ dials up the complexity, with a beautiful fruit bowl of aromas: peach, melon, orange blossom, and green apple, with some savoury wax and musk notes. Like ‘The Gypsy’, it has a silkiness in the mouth and a full-bodied feel on the palate, with loads of acid. I was quite surprised to see the alcohol level for this wine, although it wasn’t discernible with food, and the ripeness of the fruit is balanced by surprisingly high acid. I’d be very interested to see what this wine is like with a bit more bottle age, particularly to see how the different characters of the Orange Muscat and Riesling develop.

2022 Black & Ginger ‘Lorelei’ Gewürztraminer – $29 – 95 points

Sourced from vineyards in Henty. 13.5%abv

Gewürztraminer is one of my favourite grapes so I really looked forward to opening this bottle – I was not at all disappointed. The nose sings with lychee, melon, grapefruit, peach and lime, with some wax and a touch of honey peeking through. The palate is quite salty, acid driven and mouth watering, but when drunk with food, there is delightful fruit sweetness. That silkiness seen in the two whites above is there again, and I reckon this wine will cellar well for another 5-8 years.

2022 Black & Ginger ‘Lucy’s Rosé’ – $33 – 94 points

Sourced from Great Western and Henty vineyards. 13.5%abv

I think I can safely say that this is the very first Shiraz/Gewürztraminer blend I’ve ever had, and I’m very much hooked. While there’s only a small amount of the white grape in the mix, it’s enough to add some spice and floral complexity to the strawberry, rose, and cherry fruits, with a dash of pepper, too. There’s around 9 grams/litre of residual sugar and the touch of sweetness aids in its drinkability, making it quite a moreish wine and quite a good pairing option for a range of foods.

2021 Black & Ginger ‘La Gringa’ Graciano – $39 – 92 points

Sourced from Arrawatta Vineyard, Great Western. 11.5%abv

Graciano is a variety quite widely grown in its native Spain, which is now also gaining a following (and increased plantings) in Australia. ‘La Gringa’ shows a nice balance between fruit and savoury characters, with abundant pepper over a core of raspberry, blackberry and plum, some spicy mint, tertiary leather and stewed fruits now coming through. The tannins are chalky and the wine’s very juicy on the palate, which goes quite swimmingly with spicy, meaty dishes.

2022 Black & Ginger Grenache Nouveau – $33 – 94 points

Sourced from Arrawatta Vineyard, Great Western. 14.5%abv

Having written about carbonic maceration recently for Winepilot, I was very interested in sampling the Grenache Nouveau. You’d expect it to be a bit of a beast at 14.5%abv, but it hides the alcohol well, behind some glossy fruit flavours. It’s all strawberry, raspberry, blueberry on the nose and palate, with banana, confectionery and rose adding depth to this incredibly fruity wine. I tried the wine by itself and then with food and it was delicious on both occasions, the fruit sweetness giving the (false) impression of some residual sugar. It may be a bit alcoholic to be classed as “quaffable” but I think it’d be difficult to resist finishing the bottle (with friends and family, of course).

2021 Black & Ginger ‘Cinco Rojas’ – $39 – 94 points

Sourced from vineyards around Great Western. 13.5%abv

This is the kind of blend you’d likely find in a bar in Spain or Portugal, the only difference with this wine being that all the grapes were grown in Great Western. It features varying amounts (the winemakers say, ‘don’t bother asking the proportions because we don’t know’) of Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinto Cão, and Touriga Nacional. As expected, it’s spicy and fruit driven, with vibrant plum, raspberry and blackberry, and some violet and pepper notes, as well as cola and leather. I think it has the structure to cellar for a few more years, though it’s looking lovely right now.

2021 Black & Ginger ‘Lily’s Block’ Shiraz – $45 – 94 points

Sourced from Hounds Run vineyard, Great Western. 14%abv

Hadyn and Darcy may be a little sick of Shiraz, but this is one wine that you won’t be sick of drinking. The wine is named after Hadyn’s mother, who often worked in the vineyard, although she passed away before sampling her son’s efforts. This is a dark-fruited and spicy Shiraz, showing blueberry and mulberry some savoury tomato leaf and pepper, and tertiary notes of meat, earth and show polish. It goes really well with food but is also mighty fine just by itself. Give it another 5-8 years.

2021 Black & Ginger ‘L’Amante’ Nebbiolo – $45 – 95 points

Sourced from Malakoff Vineyard, Pyrenees. 14.2%abv

It’s always great to see a Victorian Nebbiolo, and the fact it’s sourced from the Malakoff vineyard means the quality is assured. As always, the lightish colour gives little clue to the complexity within: cherry and raspberry dominate, with the usual tar and roses alongside, plus some herbal, mint, cedar and stemminess adding depth. It’s richly fruited and vibrant on the palate, with a silky mouthfeel and grippy, dusty tannins that need some time in bottle to settle down or a few hours in a decanter to show its best. This hould go the distance up to around 2031.



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