We have huge respect for Taras Ochota, and everything he did for Australian wine. He sadly passed in 2020 and his wife Amber, his partner in everything from life to winemaking, has kept Ochota Barrels going. She has made wines that are heartbreakingly beautiful, full of life and excitement. Wines that energise us, and pay tribute to a man who was larger than any life anyone could ever live.
The 2021 vintage is Amber's in physicality, made with Taras in spirit. We are humbled to offer them to you to enjoy. This is Ochota Barrels and Taras' legacy, in all its maverick punk wine glory.
Let us tell you Taras and Amber's story.
Ochota Barrels began in 2000; Taras (a punk rocker, in the band Kranktus) and Amber Ochota had been travelling around some of the world’s best wine and surf regions and decided they wanted to make premium wines back home in South Australia. The initial plan was to concentrate on Grenache in McLaren Vale and Syrah in the Barossa Valley, find exceptional old vineyards in each region and create juicy, small-batch, single-vineyard wines. They now also farm some fascinating older plots of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Adelaide Hills, with old bush vines producing small berries and low yields.
Ochota Barrels take a holistic approach in the vineyard and a hands-off, minimum-intervention approach to winemaking: Taras and Amber pick early to maintain natural acidity and ferment naturally across their range. Texture is an important focus for them, believing mouthfeel is produced from skin contact and lees stirring. In the last 22 years, the unique wines of Ochota Barrels have come to define modern Australian winemaking.
Their wines are mouth-watering and possess compelling energy. In Taras' own words "We just want to produce something delicious and gorgeous for all of us to enjoy with none of the nasties and more of the love".
Not your typical super-aromatic Gewurtz, 'Weird Berries in the Woods' is savoury and textured with a grippy finish thanks to some skin contact. Think rose petal infused lemongrass, followed by chalky, mandarin skinned texture, forming a foundation for the jasmine and ginger-infused, nervy acid line which finishes long and bright.
An ethereal, almost Pinot-like, Grenache sourced from an old, organic vineyard planted in 1946. The palate is opulent, yet nervy with medium-bodied, finely grained textural components resembling pomegranate and lingonberry. It's incredibly complex, with lifted spice
The Slint Chardonnay 2021 - £34.50
A thoroughly ‘modern’ Australian Chardonnay, in a cool climate style, which sees only the tiniest amount of new oak. Tightly wound, with mouth-watering notes of grapefruit and nectarine, aromatically evolving between gunflint, bee’s wax and meyer lemon rind. The palate is pure and precise, finishing long with powerful elegance.
This is something new to the Ochota family, sourced from much younger Syrah vines (planted in 1996) on the 'Green Room' vineyard. Blood orange meets a cordite intensity of black olive and crushed autumn leaves. They leap from the glass, enticing you in, as the tightrope of freshness and rich round flavours play together.
Solid proof that Pinot Meunier can sing in the right winemaker's hands. This has the Ochota trademark of tightly wound, fine tannins, wrapped in a core of pulsing bright red berries. Succulent with the mid-palate holding length and energy. Think cherry cake with an estery core, dotted with fennel seed, almond meal, rhubarb and feijoa.
This is a magical vineyard, planted in 1947 and completely unirrigated. A fragrant thread of wild herbs, fennel seed and charcuterie is underpinned with raspberry, violets and spice. It has Ochota's signature, taut nervous tension of compact red currants and plum filling the mid-palate with mouth-watering red berry intensity. Incredibly svelte and elegant. The anarchic antithesis of your typical Mclaren Vale Grenache.
A bright, earthy expression of Pinot that's become a firm favourite in Ochota's range. Delicate, yet striking, with a floral nose of crushed petals and stems.It has a taut, yet compact and textural palate in a state of flux, whilst tarry red currants and slightly meaty components enfold long with a savoury egress rolling to the finish.
In 1985 three clones of Gamay were planted in this vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley. A few years later, due to its unpopularity, they were re-grafted to Chardonnay. It wasn’t until 2013 that Taras convinced his grower mate Sam to chainsaw off the Chardonnay grafts and bring back canes from the Gamay rootstock – that’s what we call radical viticulture!
The resulting wine, is a tightly wound classic example of Gamay which shows medicinal fragrance and savoury spiced red currants. It has a polished mineral palate that is lithe, and dense yet elegant in its long and pure finish
Apparently, this wine is precisely what Taras wanted this version of Pinot Noir, from another vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley, to NOT be. Yet for Amber it has worked out in the most fantastically delicious way. Gloriously dark and brooding, with intense gunpowder smoke and fine, muscular, sandy tannins. Produced in tiny quantities, this is something special and unique.
Devastate Gamary, 2021 - £63
This is Amber’s paean to Taras. 'Devastate' is a stunning wine born out of tragic circumstances. It is a heartbreaking homage to Taras' fierce passion and electrifying talent, through a glass of his much loved Gamay. Made with a selection of Ochota's best Gamay barrels, this is a structured, sophisticated expression of the grape, with crunchy fruit, savoury tannins and a smoky, tobacco-leaf like character lending great complexity. A fitting tribute to an incredible man.
186 Grenache, 2021 - £70
Made from old bush vine Grenache from the Fugazi vineyard, the name refers to the single puncheon that was filled with whole bunch fruit and left for 186 days. It is silky in texture with a glorious perfume of red fruits, earth and bitter herbs.