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Published April 11th 2016
Devilishly Good Wine and Lots of Moustaches
I'm of the opinion that you can't visit too many wineries, but if you have limited time available make sure Alpha Box and Dice is on your list.
Not only are the wines devilishly good but there's a quirky vibe going on there too.
You'll find Alpha Box and Dice on Olivers Road at McLaren Vale where the diverse climatic conditions are conducive to multi-varietal plantings. A,B&D use this to their advantage when developing wine blends, as they are able to source a myriad grape varieties. I found myself an eager student at the Cellar Door recently, when Andrew explained the balance and character of the current blends. Needless to say, tasting was an integral part of my study.
Each wine, explained Andrew, has it's own story, character and identity and is therefore deserving of it's own name and bespoke label. The aim is to develop twenty-six wines whose name begins with a letter of the alphabet. One artist each time, from Adelaide based graphic design company, Mash, designs a label incorporating the relevant letter and, voila, a new wine is launched.
There are nineteen wines so far (starting with "Apostle" Shiraz/Durif and finishing, at this stage, with "Xola" of the Aglianico grape persuasion) and seven to go. Each wine will be repeated, although not necessarily every year. Only spectacular fruit will result in a repeated wine.
I tasted Golden Mullet Fury (an orange wine, said Andrew), Tarot (Grenache), Xola (Aglianico) and my favourite, Siren, a Nero D'Avola grape variety, originally grown in Sicily. I was particularly drawn to its label which was designed by local ceramic and graphic artist Gerry Wedd.
In keeping with the artful labels, the Cellar Door is full of rustic character. I swear I last saw those comfy chairs in my Auntie Madge's front room. And someone at A,B&D has a thing about moustaches. Most of the framed prints and photos seem to incorporate a moustache, regardless of the subject's gender.
A framed fox features on one wall.....
while an accumbent aardvark graces one of the tables.
A,B&D offers an aphoristic but tempting menu of 'hand-crafted' toasties as well as platters comprising local cheeses and other regional goodies.
My husband chose a 'Brisket Reuben' toastie with limestone brisket, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, mustard and a dill pickle on the side, to enjoy with a whole glass, (rather than a mere taste), of the 'Tarot' Grenache. I went for a two-cheese platter, (soft sheep's cheese and a blue), to accompany my glass of Sicilian-style, Nero D'Avola, 'Siren'.
Soft and blue, served with the goods and Tarot Grenache
If you'd prefer to sit outside and enjoy your toasties and cheese, there are tables and chairs with a view over the vines.
And if you love Alpha Box and Dice wines as much as I did, subscribe to 'The Life Improvement Plan'; home delivered wine at six week intervals.