Down (Under) on The Koerner: New Wines from South Australia!

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We recently had the pleasure of meeting Clare Valley native Damon Koerner during Australian Wine Week. He visited Chambers to pour his remarkably vibrant wines and to raise eyebrows with a style that is altogether atypical of wines from South Australia. The reds showed bright, fresh fruit and a purity uncompromised by a strong hand in the cellar; while the salty Vermentino reminded us that despite being a continent, Australia might be more of an island after all. 

Damon attributes the refreshing style of the wines to the influence of visiting vineyards in Europe; particularly in France and Italy where he and his brother/business partner "Jono" developed a taste for unoaked, light-bodied reds with minimal added sulfur -- in other words, wines that were previously unknown in the Clare. As the sons of grape farmers, the brothers had no trouble sourcing impeccable fruit for their ambitious project. The picturesque Gullyview Vineyard with its Mars-like Terra Rossa soil (limestone base with iron-rich topsoil), has been farmed without irrigation, insecticides, chemicals, or synthetic fertilizers by their parents, Christine and Anthony Koerner, for nearly 40 years. Damon explained that he wanted to work with healthy fruit and have a say when it was picked (early) so that the only thing he had to do in the cellar was add a small amount of sulfur at bottling. The vigorous acidity in the Koerner wines reminds us of a Chambers favorite, Victoria winemaker Ben Haines, who also harvests early to preserve natural freshness rather than acidify (a fairly common practice of adding tartaric acid to wine in order to amplify freshness). 

Damon & Jono in their cellar (photo: Koerner)

Each of the Koerner wines is made with the intention to, first and foremost, express individual varietal character, but also to be drunk and enjoyed in its youth. Even their Bordeaux blend (aptly named "The Clare") is playful after a light chill, with soft tannins, low alcohol, and the right amount of acidity to make it food friendly or a casual sipper. But perhaps their most fascinating wine is "La Corse" which is a blend of traditional Corsican varieties, including Sciacarello. When we asked if it was common to find these Mediterranean grapes in the Clare Valley Damon laughed and said, "Not especially." Apparently his father, Anthony Koerner, had a passion for Corsican grapes and planted them decades ago, to the amusement of his family and peers. But according to Damon, the grapes thrive in the warm days and cold nights in the Clare, especially the high-acid Sciacarello which adds a marvelous texture and structure to "La Corse."

It is an exciting time for fans of the new era of Australian winemaking because we're beginning to see more of these well-made, low-intervention wines reach the States. They are a wonderful addition to our shelves and we're happy to share them with you today! Amanda Bowman

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Koerner 2017 Clare Valley Vermentino 'Rolle'

From 10 year-old vines planted on the Terra Rossa soils of the Gullyview Vineyard. The grapes are hand-harvested, macerated on the skins for half a day, fermented with indigenous yeast, and aged in 2000 L foudre for six months. No fining or filtration with only a small amount of sulfur added at bottling. We loved the savory saltiness of this Corsican-inspired Vermentino. The aromas are delicately tropical with an enlivening zestiness that leaps from the glass. The palate is supple and creamy with fresh flavors of lemongrass, peach skins, and exotic fruit. The finish is long and ends on a high-toned, stone fruit note. Delicious and ready to drink now. Amanda Bowman

  • Out of Stock
  • white
  • 0 in stock
  • $32.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Koerner 2017 Clare Valley Sangiovese Blend 'La Corse'

“La Corse” was a standout at the recent in-store tasting. The 2017 is a blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Sciacarello, 15% Grenache, and 10% Malbec. The grapes were hand-harvested, spontaneously fermented with both whole berries and whole cluster in open tank for two weeks with light hand plunging. The wine was aged on the fine lees in neutral oak for six months and bottled with minimal sulfur without fining or filtration. The naturally high-acid Sciacarello adds compelling structure to this light-bodied wine, while the Sangiovese brings purple floral aromas and tart berry flavors. The soft tannins are smooth and gentle, making it easy for a single serving size to turn into an entire bottle. Serve with a chill and enjoy! Amanda Bowman 

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $27.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Koerner 2017 Clare Valley Cabernet Blend 'The Clare'

“The Clare” 2017 is a modern take on a classic Claret blend of 30% Cabernet, 30% Petit Verdot, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 20% Malbec. The grapes were hand-harvested, spontaneously fermented with both whole berries and whole bunches in open tank for two weeks with light hand plunging. The wine was aged on the fine lees in neutral oak for six months and bottled with minimal sulfur without fining or filtration. After a quick decant, aromas of green bell pepper, faint eucalyptus, and spiced plum emerge from the glass. The palate is plush with blue fruit and sour cherry with powdery, spicy tannins. The acidity is vigorous and untamed, but adds a pleasant lightness to the overall mouthfeel. Drink chilled after a short decant. Amanda Bowman 

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $25.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur