McLaren Vale Wines – Alpha Box & Dice Cellar Door


Justin Lane (the Alpha Box & Dice winemaker) has a reputation for being something different and that he does things his own way.  Their facility – including the cellar door is across the road from Maxwell Wines in  what I remember as the Manning Park cellar door and more recently Settlement Wines cellar door.  There has been an effort to clean up the site and make it reflect the Lane family philosophy.  The cellar door is not your new style with lots of polished wood and glass – here is all about character.  With Justin being a character and his wines showing a lot of character then it should follow that the cellar door has character.  There is also a view to setting up a courtyard area for BBQ’s etc.

The wines are very different in a positive way.  When I was offered a Dolcetto as the first wine to taste from his range, I was concerned as in my very limited experience with this variety it was sweet wine style.  How wrong I was!  The wines show an overall structure with selected fruit parcels (the emphasis is on sourcing the correct fruit to produce a style) with old oak maturation in specially sourced oak barrels plus some funky treatments to produce experience wines.

The cellar door is open weekends and I recommend this as a visit  

Dead Winemakers Society 2008 Dolcetto ($A20)

The Dolcetto grapes comes from a Scott Hicks Kupito vineyard and is aged in old 500L puncheons.  The wine is a pleasant surprise with distinct orange peel aromas.  The low tannic nature of the wine strikes you the moment it hits the palate with the orange peel nature continuing with some fennel overtones and a eucalypt finish (the vineyard is surrounded with gum trees).  Oak plays only a minimum part on the flavour profile and there is long acid finish that is complementary to the rest of the flavours.  The wine is very dry wine that would go well with complex slow cooked food or the citrus nature would appeal to the duck lovers out there.

Fog 2006 Nebbiolo Cabernet Tanant ($A30)

The wine is made up of 80% Nebbiolo from Blewitt Springs and aged in old 500L oak puncheons, 10% McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon (aged in new french oak) and 10% Kupitto Tanant (also aged in new french oak).  The Nebbiolo had extended skins contact (4 weeks) and then a long time in barrel to ensure the different tannins to integrate.

The citrus characters continue on the nose – this time it is reminiscent of mandarin peel.  On the palate there is a fruit sweetness (though it is a dry wine) with lots of sour cherries.  There is a layering effect of tannins (grape tannins and oak tannins) probably assisted by the use of Tanant, fruit and citrus flavours, high volatile acid and high acids generally.  All of these components make this an enjoyable and complex wine.  Food matches would be the same as for the Dolcetta. 

Blood of Jupiter 2006 Sangiovese Cabernet ($A25)

The wine is made of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon – both from McLaren Vale.  The Sangiovese free run juice went straight into old oak pungeons and the Sangiovese pressings and the Cabernet Sauvignon went into new Burgundian Bariques and had extended time on the lees.

The nose showed the typical Sangivese earthy and peaty characters with distinct sour cherries.  These carry over onto the palate that has layers of fine tannins, oak char and fruit sweetness.  Again there is an almost viscous mouthfeel that is very pleasant.

Apostie 2008 Shiraz Durif ($A30)

The wine is made of 50% McLaren Vale Shiraz, 23% Barossa Shiraz and 27% Durif, that went into Burgundian Buriques of which 70% were new.  The first item of note for this wine is that it is 14.1% alcohol – the wine is neither a fruit or alcohol bomb.  The nose has elements of spice with red and black fruits – but is not typical of Shiraz I have drunk lately, it has a more refined and delicate.  The palate has lots of plums and layered tannins with a real lift due to the textural structure and wonderful acid.

Changing Lanes 2005 Tempranillo Cabernet ($A35)

An interesting mix of 50/50 blend of Margaret River Tempranillo with McLaren Vale Cabernet Sauvignon (from the Willunga foothills) – again the wine has seen Burgundian Bariques of which 70% were new.  Three years in oak and 1 year in bottle was required for Justin to be happy to release this wine.  Some Tempranillo funkyness came through on the nose.  On the palate was this fruit sweetness even though the wine would be considered dry.  Combining well with this fruitiness was layers of dry and dusty layers of tannins that was just starting to show some aged characteristics.  Another wine to buy and experieince a wine that is enjoyable but not main stream.

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About Lonely Grape

Passionate about wine - particularly McLaren Vale wines. Check out my blog on different winery reviews and my wine sales web site
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2 Responses to McLaren Vale Wines – Alpha Box & Dice Cellar Door

  1. Pingback: September Tastings Continue with Alpha Box & Dice on Friday | Off the Vine Design & Cellar

  2. Pingback: September Tastings Continue with Alpha Box & Dice on Friday |

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