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Wine of the Week: Unico Zelo

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Unico Zelo is an incredible wine firm from South Australia, based in the Adelaide Plains with additional vineyards in Riverland. They are a prime example that happy and creative people make wonderful wine.

Pictured Above: Left, my last Zoom call with Unico Zelo. Yes I tune in from atop my "Napa Valley Then and Now" book and always with snacks. Right, winemakers Brendan and Laura Carter

In my early studies, I was taught that there was only bulk, impersonal wine from Riverland. How silly. Unico Zelo shows how wrong that thinking was in every glass.

Italian Varietals in Southern Australia

Brendan and Laura Carter's vision was to create wine that is approachable to the new generation of wine drinkers and taste makers. Wine that is natural, undoctored, complex, and expressing the soil and climate of southern Australia, rather than making wine that has followed the same mainstream view of what Australia has to offer. They found that Italian varietals like Fiano, Nero d'Avola, and Greco among others were able to do this. In their continuing efforts to be sustainable, they dry farm organically, and locate their winery in the coolest sites of the precious Adelaide Hills in order to not require energy during the winemaking and aging process.

Australia's soil is 4.5 billion years old, making it the oldest with vines. Although they have many vineyard plantings through out Southern Australia, the plots in Riverland are the most compelling. The valley is actually at sea level, and used to be underwater. Although most of Riverland is very dry and must be irrigated, Unico Zelo found a site along a river, in the bend that was able to capture limestone deposits in seemingly desert land. The Jade and Jasper Fiano ($20) stood out as a favorite. It was salty and rich with basil, ramps, and crab apples. I love Italian Fiano's, but this was other worldly.


Check out more of their wines for yourself and see which wines go with your favorite junk food at and if you are in the DC Metro area, you can grab them at Domestique, a natural wine store and a favorite in the business. #naturalwine

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