“He paved the way for all of the young winemakers in Australia who may have been brought up on the bigger style of wine to say that these wines were fine for our parents, but it’s not what we want to do or drink. He was the most important winemaker of a generation.”

— Ronnie Sanders, Importer 

France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, and California represent the core of the 2,000 + selections on the site, which's unlikely ever to change. However, being open-minded and continually tasting wines from outside this realm is crucial. 

Much as California has gone through a transformative period recently, Australia is also in the midst of a shift towards emphasizing freshness and balance in its wines. The jammy, overly-extracted, and raisinated characteristics that plagued many are slowly falling out of fashion. There's one producer that really typifies this more contemporary terroir-driven focus. Many years ago, a tasting with the Wines of Australia in New York put Ochota Barrels on the map for me. Today we go down under and look close at the single most exciting producer from a country whose sky is the only limit for potential.

Today, I'm happy to offer the 2020 Ochota Barrels "Green Room" Grenache and "Where's the Pope" Syrah.

Tara Ochota graduated with a degree in Oenology from Adelaide University and moved to work with wineries throughout California, Italy, and his homeland. Amber Ochota, after working with wineries in Italy, selected to focus on vineyard development at home. The two knew the landscape intimately and their wealth of experiences set their eyes on showing a different side to McLaren Vale Grenache and Barossa Valley Shiraz (Syrah). Through old vines and single-vineyard bottlings, Ochota Barrels was born with aspirations of telling the true story of place. And they're now the worldwide ambassadors of the ever-changing terrain of Australian wine.

The concentration of flavor and silken texture is not always easy to achieve at lower alcohol and neutral oak aging. Still, their Green Room bottling (the first I tasted) was a massive revelation for me. This was not just mimicking a Cru Beaujolais or a carbonic fermented Southern Rhone Grenache/Syrah blend. This was completely unique and spoke to a seemingly unveiled place for the first time in front of my eyes. There were no rough edges; everything was in its right place. This was seamless in the way that top sites in Burgundy convey with ease. And ease is the most appropriate word to describe the wines from Tara and Amber. They are each integrated and composed in complete harmony without sacrificing an ounce of power. Their wines immediately conjure the adage of the iron fist in the velvet glove.