Delinquents of the Riverlands

If you haven’t visited Adam Vourvoulis’ hilarious apparel site, you are seriously missing out on your best life: Adam, aka @natural_whine, makes t-shirts that combine the douchy brand/band shirts of yesteryear (for me, 9th grade) with our favorite grape varieties, culty producers (looking at you Gut Oggau) and the shit people in the wine industry have to deal with. Sometimes, when I’m working at the wine shop, I like to imagine my ‘struggles’ as shirt slogans. Wouldn’t you love to wear a tee that reads “Can I Just Get The Titos?” Or, “Is It More Sav Blanc or Chardonnay?” Or a baseball cap that has just the delightful, “I Like Dry.”

After meeting Con-Greg Grigoriou (seriously, the best name I’ve heard all year) and his badass Delinquente Co. wines, I’m desperate to make a band-tee for the best Game of Thrones 8-bit tribute group, “Delinquents of the Riverlands.” Con-Greg’s wines are like Tame Impala tracks, taste journeys that are equal parts disco, yacht rock, and dance pop in roguish hands-on packages. Sourcing grapes from the oft-maligned Riverlands, home to Catelyn Stark and Yellow Tail bulk wines, Con-Greg is one of the new guard of winemakers who are proving that the region can make A-grade weirdo wines that turn heads faster than Sean Spicer at the Emmys.

The Riverlands is a seriously warm area. In the past, the intense heat ensured high yields and extra ripe fruit for the type of Aussie wines that gave the country it’s bulk wine/bag-in-a-box reputation for many years. Now, thanks to forward thinking growers who are both certified organic and dry-farming, the Riverlands has become an oasis for new varieties, particularly Italian wines. Winemakers like Brad Higgins from Brash Higgins, Brendan and Laura Carter of Unico Zelo, and Con-Greg have seized the opportunity to champion these Italian varieties and the unique ways that the Riverlands’ intensely Aussie terroir can shape the grapes’ expressions.

Con-Greg’s “Screaming Betty” is Vermentino that has the soul of a Sardinian wine, but none of the freshly shucked oyster salinity. Instead, the nose presents almost Burgundian: fresh straw about to be lit by a burning match. On the palette, the wine is surprisingly lithe, lime oil and grapefruit pith, with ample acidity. It drinks like, to be perfectly honest, the type of wine you’d actually want to drink in 90 degree Aussie weather.

I thought I would hate the “Pretty Boy” rose – Nero d’Avola is such a precious grape to me and I much prefer to see it left well alone as a red – but this 1950s greaser won my heart. My mom is a hardcore pavlova producer and this lush rosato is all strawberries, tawny meringue and cream. There is a slight herbaceous undertone – that mint that you macerate with the berries, perhaps? – and a dense finish that makes you rub your tongue all around the inside of your mouth. #porchpounder

Montepluciano doesn’t do much for me 9 times out of 10 (Abruzzo has to work hard for my money) so divorcing this wine from Italian expectations is easy. The “Bullet Dodger” is an Aussie wine through and through: plummy fruit, a little desert lime, red tea spice, and twinkly Kool-Aid charms. The wine doesn’t have the weight of Shiraz, which is all the better. This is the perfect workhorse wine for after work unwinding.

Delinquente Wines are imported by Hudson Wine Brokers and can be found wherever wine stores are cool. Buy them up so we can get more over here for next Summer’s adventures!

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