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Pulp fiction in a bottle

epicure 31 October 2011

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that Matt Gant aims to be the Quentin Tarantino of the Barossa wine industry. He shares how he is putting the fun back into grape appreciation.

The first thing you’d notice about the bottle of Mother’s Milk, a Shiraz from Barossa-based First Drop Wines, is its label—a comic strip depicting the production of the wine. As for the cheeky name, Matt Gant, the 37-year-old winemaker of First Drop, has an explanation.  “In England, where I come from, we use a vernacular to describe a delicious drink: ‘As good as mother’s milk’,” he says, breaking into a slight laugh. “That’s the idea behind this Shiraz, it’s easy to drink and enjoyable. We are serious about what goes into the bottle, but the essence of First Drop is fun.”

Gant’s image seems to fit with that of a beermaker than a winemaker. He’s usually dressed in the college freshman attire of T-shirt, jeans and bright sports shoes. The no-frills get-up is a reflection of how he sees wine appreciation—that it should be a casual affair. On First Drops’ website, there are promotional videos of his wines, with rock and roll and jazz on the soundtracks. His tasting notes for his wines is hip beerspeak with phrases like “a vow to make some kick arse booze” for a Cabernet Sauvignon, and “soft, slurpy” for the Mother’s Milk.

But these anti-establishment expressions aren’t packaging gimmicks for average wines. First Drop has become a critics’ darling, garnering accolades like a mention for its 2% Shiraz 2006 in the Penguin Good Australian Wine Guide 2010, and a five-star rating for the establishment in James Halliday Australian Wine Companion 2012.

Excerpt from the November issue of epicure.

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