JANCIS ROBINSON, Julia Harding, August 2016: "I?ve been tasting First Drop wines for several years now and each batch of new releases never fails to impress me in two respects. Firstly in terms of consistent wine quality and style ? firmly Australian but with sensitive use of the accelerator and brake pedals to produce wines that are always full of flavour but never heavy or overdone, often with a respectful nod to Europe, occasionally with tongue in cheek. Whether the wines are rich and powerful or subtle and silky, the balance is always excellent, even when the wine comes in at 15% alcohol.
Secondly in the motley crew of quirky names and labels ? individualism matching each wine but still with a shared identity thanks to their creators, from the ironic rioja-style netting round the Two Percent Shiraz (netting not shown in the image below) to the franglais on the Mère et Fils Chardonnay label (examples in the background info on the 2014 below). Their take on Portuguese and Italian varieties captures their essence and yet they still retain the First Drop family feel.
?The Players?, as the First Drop website refers to them, are English-born Matt Gant (?Position: Winemaker and retired wanabe playboy?, on the left in their photo above) and Australian John Retsas (?Position: Marketeer and musketeer?, on the right). What I enjoy about their approach to wine is its combination of playfulness (not only in the packaging but also in the visual tasting notes in The Flavours section on their site) and seriousness about vineyard sites ? as you can tell from the level of background information they provide on the sources of the fruit they buy in.
In some ways they remind me of Andrew Hoadley at La Violetta in the Great Southern, always looking for the best vineyards, experimenting and having fun while they make characterful and deliciously drinkable wines, in some instances injecting a little bit of Europe into Australia.
You can tell these wines are made for pleasure, and for ageing, though I doubt they get the chance. Gant really seems to get the best out of each variety and each vineyard, sometimes blending, sometimes focusing precisely on a single vineyard or variety."