Domaine Lucci and Lucy Margaux, names that are being whispered by those in the know about Natural Wines, or wines which are just that little bit different. Anton van Klopper and his wife Sally are the names behind the name. Living in a tiny enclave known as The Basket Range in South Australia this lucky family is surrounded by like-minded, progressive wine makers who are happily experimenting with new, or ancient, techniques in search of the magical elixir that is Natural Wine. But far from being a bunch of ‘fly by the seat of your tie-dye pants’ hippy types, there is a lot of intellectual firepower and experience behind these wine makers.
Anton van Klopper is arguable one of the most influential characters in the Basket Range group has always had an interest in good food and wine. Originally working in hospitality he found himself surrounded by great wines. Eventually, years of tasting and trying persuaded him that it was time to try his hand at creation! After studying the arts and sciences of agriculture and oenology he travelled the world creating vintages in places far and wide. It was on these travels where he came to understand that all great wines are an expression of the land where the grape is grown, and anything that interferes with and takes away that expression of place makes for a dull wine. To that end, Anton and Sally purchased 16 acres of orchards in the Adelaide Hills, Basket Region and by growing their own grapes, biodynamically (in a way that maximising the vines’ potential while caring for the Earth), as well as being involved in every step in the wine making process they began to produce a delicious range of natural wine. In his own words Anton has said; “We aim to produce wines that express themselves. To achieve this at the highest level I would never consider adding yeast, bacteria, acid, sugar or any of the other artificial or natural additives. A winemaker can choose to be an artist or a chemist. I believe that winemaking is a craft; all our decisions are made with the aid of a wine glass and traditional skills, with the aim of developing the wines true identity.”
Anton has developed something of a reputation for himself as the ‘wild-man,’ of the wine. He is fighting the good fight on the front line of the natural wine movement in Australia. "When I started 10 years ago, I did the opposite of everything I was taught at winemaking school," says van Klopper. "I was fighting for a cause: making wine in a wild way that was sound, that had structural integrity. I helped others get started because I wanted people doing interesting stuff. And now the cause is here."
His wines are a number of things; exciting, challenging, interesting, surprising and delicious to name just a few. Each vintage, each bottle even, have their own special quirks and idiosyncrasies, which is what makes this kind of wine production so special, something definitely worth sitting up and taking notice of. By pushing the boundaries of traditional wine making, Anton and his band of merry wine-making men in the Basket Range (James Erskine, Tom Shobbrook, and Sam Hughes) all living in just down the road from one another, have formed a movement they have called Natural Selection Theory, where wine making knows no bounds, and together they are working tirelessly to change the face of wines as they are perceived by most. Anton is scathing of many ‘trend following’ wine makers who claim to be producing ‘natural’ wines. He believes that many such makers lack integrity and are just looking to tap into a cash market, rather than truly believing in the ancient principals he adheres too, ‘in spirit there is matter and in matter there is spirit’.
We’re looking forward to seeing what else Anton has in store for us in years to come. Watch this space!