A wild, barrel-fermented Chenin, enhanced by the natural acidity levels from the cooler 2017 vintage.
The 2017 Brash Higgins CHN is Brad's take on the wonderful Chenin Blanc. Sourced from a single vineyard in Blewitt Springs, the fruit is left to soak on skins for 2 days before being pressed to white Burgundy barrels to ferment. Maturation is 11 months, giving the wine loads of body and depth, with texture coming from both the skins and oak.
It's a heady and lifted wine, with aromas of ripe apple, honeyed nuts, lemon zest and subtle oak character. It's got a good weight on the palate, with the lovely natural acidity saving it from becoming flabby or broad. It's got chalky mineral character, and a wonderful moreish salinity on the finish.
Our third Chenin Blanc at Brash Higgins, and we couldn’t be happier with the result. Handpicked from the white beach sands of the Blewitt Springs subregion of McLaren Vale, then fermented wild in barrel for 11 months. Only 255 cases of this crisp, dry style CHN were produced. 2017 was a cooler year and this wine in particular has some lovely, balanced acidity as a result.
A sunny yellow in hue, the wine is heady with Chenin perfume of honey, straw, apples, real lemonade and water chestnut. Soft entry with good palate weight, the wine tightens as it flows across the tongue revealing a lick of saline and almost crackles a bit. Good natural acidity with a chalky pucker on the finish make a second approach all the more appealing.
Brash Higgins is the wine label - or nom de vin, if you will - of McLaren Vale based vigneron, Brad Hickey.
Brad started as a sommelier in New York, working for Michelin starred restaurants, and as a wine list consultant. But his vinous journey drew him away from the bright lights and dazzling displays of the big city, and ultimately to South Australia, where his desire to unravel the enigmas of the vine saw him working a vintage with Chris Ringland.
Brad fell in love with Australia (and a local vigneron, Nicole Thorpe) and his move was settled.
The wines of Brash Higgins are thought-provoking and intriguing. They draw you in through a combination of interesting varieties, unique production methods, and good ol' fashioned flavour. In 2009, Brad established the Amphora Project, a series of wines that are vinified in large clay amphorae, left on skins for various periods, and bottled without filtration. He started with Nero d'Avola, a wine that he had seen made in this way to great effect in Sicily. But the range has subsequently grown to include Zibibbo and Merlot.
Ultimately, the wines of Brash Higgins are beautifully crafted, interesting, fruit-forward styles that challenge the status quo, but without challenging the drinker. There is a consistent thread of long ferments and extended macerations through the Brash Higgins wines, whilst if oak is used, it is generally old. The focus is on the quality of the fruit and expressing the vintage and terroir without interfering in that process. Perhaps it's Brad's 'brash' approach that has given him the licence to play so much in the winery. But whatever it is, we're loving what he's doing.
A rich chenin with plenty of interest, it sees a few days of skin contact before wild fermenting in wood. The result is a savory, praline-crusted style with very fresh, creamy lemon and meadow-flower character. The palate has smooth and spicy appeal with great depth and acidity.
MIKE BENNIE - THE WINE FRONT
Bright golden colour. Lemon zest, lemon verbena, golden delicious apple, saline scents. Palate runs a similar course, lightly chalky in texture, zingy in acidity. Faint herbal note and slate-like mineral thing going on. Very nicely put together, good length, very nice drinking here.