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By JACINTA ROSE
ONFORMING to winemaking tradi-
tions has never been a strong point for
James Erskine and Anton van Klopper,
with the Adelaide Hills producers the first to
admit most in the industry would consider
their practices 'wrong'.
The duo do not simply think outside the
metaphorical square -- instead the square is far
away in the distance at the other end of the
Anton, owner of Lucy Margaux Vineyards,
and 2009 Gourmet Traveller Somellier of the
Year, James, teamed up with Sydney wine mer-
chants Sam Hughes and Tom Shobbrook, from
Shobbrook Wines in the Barossa Valley, to
form the Natural Selection Theory group and
produce Voice of the People Winter Twenty 10,
an innovative venture designed to change the
way people think about wine.
Marketed as simple wine -- made by the
peasants for the peasants -- Winter Twenty 10
comes in a 23-litre demijohn, designed to sit
atop wine bar counters. The wine is made
from a number of different varieties, blended
together to perfectly match the hearty food
consumed in winter.
In creating the blend, Anton said the group
listened to what members of the public want-
ed from a wine and then threw out the tradi-
tional rule book to deliver a product that
reflected its name -- and Voice of the People
James said they found that many people
were sick of multi-million dollar companies
churning out wine with no real story behind it.
The group has an understanding of the
social aspect of wine, and this is reflected in
"When people get together and share a bot-
tle of wine, they discuss it and share their
thoughts," Anton said.
"They want to feel
that there's a story
behind it, that it was
made with love -- it turns drinking into an
"There's this real wish for something that's a
bit more handcrafted and ethically produced
by people who have a passion for what they
Breaking with convention, Voice of the
People has been produced with as little human
influence as possible.
"These days everyone follows a couple of
school book rules in winemaking -- to acid
adjust to have balance, and to fine to get rid of
any character you don't like and to filter it, to
control temperature and use the most sterile
environment for making wine," Anton said.
"We do the opposite. Instead of using stain-
less steel we use a barrel, which is alive and
holds a beautiful temperature by itself. Instead
of adding things to have balance, we just taste
until we think the balance is there."
In order to stop oxidation spoiling the wine,
a layer of quality olive oil is poured on top -- a
practice borrowed from the winemakers of
ancient Greece and Rome, which is still prac-
ticed by some small Italian wineries today.
The use of oil is centred around a zero waste
mantra, as the oil can be reused for cooking
once the wine is finished.
The wine is available in bars in Adelaide,
Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and will
soon be found in Western Australia.
The group has created a real sense of com-
munity surrounding the Voice of the People
wine. They rely on a network of similar-mind-
ed friends along the eastern seaboard to refill
the empty demijohns and keep supplies flow-
ing in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
As expected, the group's approach has
polarised the wine community, with not every-
one understanding their philosophy.
"It's really interesting to see the reaction of
our colleagues and friends who are in the
winemaking fraternity, because they are in
horror of what we do," James said.
However, the wine drinkers have well and
truly spoken, with a spring blend in the
pipeline after strong demands from enthusias-
Mechanisation is a somewhat foreign con-
cept to Anton and James, who thrive on the
hard work required to complete all winemak-
ing tasks by hand wherever possible.
The natural philosophy extends beyond the
winemaking process. Anton's own vineyard at
Basket Range has never been sprayed, and
instead relies on biodynamic practices to keep
pests and diseases at bay.
The group behind Natural Selection Theory
does not just aim to push boundaries, but
rather to break straight through them and
open consumers' eyes to what is achievable
through innovative thinking.
Already producing apple and pear cider and
with a range of smallgoods under develop-
ment, Anton and James are likely to continue
testing the norm for years to come.
• Need to know more?
Natural Selection Theory
Peasant drop reflects natural method
James Erskine and Anton van Klopper have turned away from mainstream winemaking practices,
producing Voice of the People -- a wine made as naturally as possible.
Methods defy mainstream practices
Minimal machinery used
Sense of community developed
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