2019 Ochota Barrels “Texture Like Sun” Sector Red, Adelaide Hills, South Australia.
I was a huge blow to the wine world, when we learned last week that Taras Ochota passed away, he was an Aussie legend and admired around the world for his larger than life personality and his incredible naturally style wines. Just last month I featured his fabulous Grenache and was mesmerized by the Green Room and couldn’t wait to learn more about his wines and his life, sadly we won’t see much in the future as his wines are almost all sold out now, in a moving tribute to his life his home country has rallied ad bought up everything they could. I was able to secure one of his most playful and intriguing wines to drink and review in his honor, the 2019 Texture Like Sun, which is a curious blend of everything from Pinot to Gamay to Gewürztraminer to Chardonnay! The ex punk rocker, who played an old Rickenbacker bass on a few Australian hit albums, and who was a fan of California surf punkers, including The Dead Kennedy’s made some of the tastiest modern wines in Oz, especially the Grenache and Syrah bottlings, as well as this unpretentious and wild blend. As our thoughts and love go out to Amber Ochota, Tara’s wife, we celebrate his passion and life by enjoying his wines, he will not be forgotten anytime soon and his influence on Australian wine looks set to continue doing into the future. Little is know about the percentage of varietals in this Texture Like Sun Red Wine, though I imagine it is Pinot Noir led as I feel I can taste it, especially here in this moment, but there is so many other flavors to dig through it is hard to say, it could be the Gamay and or Grenache in there that puts that impression out with the Chardonnay giving a creamy sense and the Gewurztraminer adding exotic spices and perfume. I could hardly put the glass down as the taste was so comforting and inviting, it is a tasty quaffer, no question and I love the clear bottle and vibrant light ruby color, it was great with a spicy seafood paella.
The 2019 Ochota Texture Like Sun Red starts with wild floral and spice notes and a light sense of fruitiness with a flavor profile that reminds me of some Piedmonte wines, like Ruche, Croatina or Freisa, but warmly ripe, fresh and textural on the medium bodied palate with strawberry, plum, cherry and wild raspberry fruits along with cinnamon, dried papaya/guava, lychee, lingering rose petals and sweet herbal accents. This wine, which has been noted by other reviewers, weirdly all comes together with silken grace and harmony and drinks fabulously well, its Gamay and Pinot seemingly orchestrating the flavors in the mouth and playing the leading roles, which with everything going on is intriguing, making for a joyously elegant wine. Taras, as I noted in my latest review of his Green Room Grenache, enjoyed many harvests in California, where he worked for producers such as Kunin, Bonnacorsi, both winemakers we also lost too young, as well as Joe Davis at Arcadian, Napa’s Schrader, Outpost and the famous Hitching Post in Santa Barbara County, a favorite spot for Ochota to visit, especially as the surfing was good too. Ochota, following the lead of some of the wine world’s counter culture heros as well as being, as he put it, was strongly drawn to and influenced by the small biodynamic producers he and Amber came across in the south of France. He employed a holistic approach, wanting to use, as he put it, organically farmed vineyards planted to earth that is alive, (with) lo-fi techniques and picking decisions made purely on natural acidity which hopefully contributes to a wine’s energy and nervous tension. He used whole cluster and indigenous yeasts exclusively, loving the texture and stem inclusion character in his wines, preferring long maceration(s) and skin contact. He was also a perfectionist in making sure the wine was all about pleasure, as this one clearly shows, we in the wine world certainly feel his loss and send our love to his family and friends, godspeed Taras, thank you for your artisan wines and the joy they brought us.
($36 Est.) 92 Points, grapelive