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May 31, 2016

Justin Lane releases new wine under King and Country label

The man who brought us Alpha Box & Dice is back with a wine label that pays homage to the oft-forgotten heroes of the business – the growers.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Lauren Bezzina

After Justin Lane moved away from Alpha Box & Dice, the winery he founded, and he and partner Angie Bignell sold their bar Cantina Sociale, there was no chance he was going to disappear completely.


Find King and Country wines on the list at restaurants and bars around Adelaide including Udaberri, Kenji and The Adelaide Club. It is also being sold at East End Cellars, Hutt Street Cellars and Edinburgh Cellars.

The winemaker has an irrepressible drive to do new things. It’s not surprising then, that in-between renovating a beach house down South Angie and Justin have also quietly created King and Country – a new wine range.

The label envisages Blewitt Springs and the McLaren Vale region as a Kingdom, reigned over by the wine growers who tend the land every day. The first releases pay homage to a particular grower working in the Springs – Arthur Lolakis – from whom Justin has been buying grapes for 15 years.

“He was the first guy I ever bought grapes from and I’m still working with him,” says Justin.

Arthur’s vineyards include plantings from as far back as 1948 and the grapes end up in everything from Rosemount Estate wines to drops by Longwood and some by Alpha Box & Dice.

For their first release, Justin and Angie have taken grenache and shiraz grapes from Arthur’s lot and turned them into three separate wines.

The first celebrates Arthur himself. The King shiraz moves away from the style of winemaking Justin is best known for and demonstrates his versatility.

“For me, it’s a return to the classics but with a bit more of a contemporary feel,” says Justin.

“From a winemaking point of view I like making these wines. After AB&D I didn’t want to be typecast as the guy who makes all those hard to pronounce wines, the guy who just did the weird stuff. This is a return to say that I am a man with maybe two strings to my bow, maybe not just one.”

The other two wines – The Matriach and The Queen – are both grenache, but The Matriach is made purely with pressings, giving it a more structural and intense flavour than its sister The Queen.

“Generally with a ferment, when the ferment is finished – there’s a big cap of skin that floats to the top,” says Justin.

“Underneath it is what we call the free wine, which is the wine that comes out freely and doesn’t need to be pressed. Generally you blend the two things together, and that’s what I did with the shiraz. But in the pressed – it’s all the skin and pulpy bits, and that’s where a lot of the flavour and tannin are held. So they taste really different to the free wine.

“I just so happened to have the pressings from the first wine which made up a whole barrel, so I decided to leave it in barrel rather than blending it back into the rest of the wine and see what happened.”

The hand-made, (very) small batch wines have been bottled into packaging dreamed up by Angie in collaboration with designers Marieka Hambledon and Amelia Radman.

Featuring interpretive illustrations of each character on the front and descriptions that match both the character and the wine on the back, it’s design that suits the product inside – classic, but with some touches of contemporary.

The wines are now pouring in several of the usual suspect bars and restaurants (see above for some examples) and can be bought at East End Cellars, Edinburgh Cellars and Hutt Street Cellars.



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