Recently arrived home from a long spell running Adelaide cocktail bar, Maybe Mae, Ollie Margan is now following in the footsteps of his forefathers, Andrew and Frank, recently releasing a set of five new wines under the surrogate Margan Wine label Breaking Ground. Here we have a coherent mix of traditional and alternate varietal wines comprised of three whites and two reds - semillon, albarino, chardonnay, barbera, and shiraz. Together, they make for some very pleasant and refreshing drinking.
"Given the next generation involvement in the brand, I wanted to have more freedom, stylistically, with what was in the bottle. The new label aesthetic speaks clearer of the wine style and the maker," says third-generation winegrower Ollie Margan. "My goal with these wines is to apply a different lens to our vineyards, that adjusts the focus towards the freshness and expression of bright, primary fruit."
And bright they are, full of pep, flash, and vim, to borrow an older turn of phrase. Each wine stands out as a yardstick for the relative coolness of the 2021 Hunter Valley vintage. There's a theme here that echoes throughout, one of balance, freshness, and tension.
"Finding clarity of fruit with brightness of acidity is the goal," Margan says. "When you pick to acidity, minimise extraction, and restrain the use of oak, the fruit sits more in balance with the natural acidity. This is a style that I believe the Hunter can do quite well, and the growing season of 2021 enhanced this effect."
This set of wines are textual too, which is a firm fondness of mine, as a modest epicurean.
"Texture, for me, is the most important element linking consumption of the drink to enjoyment and pleasure... Its importance was instilled in me after a decade in the cocktail world, and it's a sentiment I've carried over into my approach to winemaking," Margan says.
2021 Margan Breaking Ground is a rather delicious debut from Ollie Margan:
Semillon ($32) A soft nose of ripe citrus, green apple and lemony white florals with a crackle of acid and a fine talc finish. Classic semillon with a contemporary twist.
Albarino ($32) Fine subtle fruit, like white nectarine flesh and lively lemon rock candy spritzed with warm sea air. Light, brisk, saline, stoney. Their best expression yet.
Chardonnay ($32) Not as opulent as one might expect. High acid lines drive faint echoes of familiar fruit; say, green melon, yellow apple, and a steely, crunchy pineapple core. Firm, finessed, line and length.
Barbera ($32) belies its cartoonish name with a brilliant frame of energetic acid tempered by stalky, savoury stems and velvet tannin setting structure to a bramble of plush black cherry and other fruits grown amongst an earthy forest floor.
Shiraz ($32) A suite of sweet yet savoury fruit, pretty and pert, shaded in tones from deep red to black and back again. Less like a rock-climb; more like a warm-evening dance with a lover amongst friends.