The Barossa is the home of Shiraz in Australia, and is the place that has seen most of the country’s famous Shiraz come to life. A lot of truly spectacular wines have emerged from this region. However, more recently there has been one man who is doing his own thing, pushing for ever-more pure and balanced wines, Fraser McKinley.
In the past, Fraser worked with the Standish Wine Company and Torbreck Vintners, but in 2006 he embarked on a totally new project. He started a small winery that goes by the curious name of Sami-Odi, producing minuscule quantities of Syrah (he doesn’t say Shiraz!) of the highest order. He doesn’t just doesn’t make generic wines of the Barossa, but he carefully selects plots in some of the valley’s finest vineyards and vinifies them separately to create a cuvée, thus combining their strengths.
What is fascinating is that the wines he produces are already approachable in their youth and straight from the bottle. Since they are bottled with minimal sulfur added, you might think that the wines would be shaky or fragile. While they might need a bit more attention when cellared, you will not miss some sulfur when the bottle is open. Immediately you are drawn into the glass by a never-ending wave of perfumes that literally jump straight at you. Trying to single some of them out is not easy, and it certainly is a unique expression of the Barossa.
McKinley’s motivation is to make wines without acid additions and with a very steady eye on picking based on pH. Fraser says “this is so much more important for me, and it’s based on a stylistic choice. pH for me is the most important part – it gives me a rough idea where I will end up.” The wines are picked earlier than most in the Barossa, often in February, which sounds extraordinary, but it seems to work from this site. After that, there is a small sulfur addition, but everything else is done by foot (gentle pigeage) and gravity. Sadly for all of us Fraser produces so little wine that we import bottles and not cases and certainly not pallets.