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  • Writer's pictureLushmuddled

A Very Kalleske Dinner

Updated: Jul 6, 2022

I like Kalleske. Quite a lot, really.

They have a solid repertoire of wines from the Barossa Valley, ranging from heavy hitters to more delicate numbers. Essentially, there's something for everyone here.

The divergent range

For this Evening With, I chose the aptly named Divergent range. It's relatively new and includes three wines: Plenarius, a skin contact Viognier; Parallax, a lighter and fresher Grenache and Zeitgeist, a powerful unoaked Shiraz. I didn't catch the newest member of the Divergent family – a Durif – in time for this article, but I'm dead keen on trying it soon. All sit around the $30 mark from the Kalleske cellar door.

The varieties aren't that unusual in the current Australian wine scene, but Kalleske shows just how brilliant – and different - they can be in the hands of a creative wine-maker. While these are the sorts of wines that make my heart beat a little faster, I do need to make it abundantly clear that the Divergent wines are left of centre. If you're an open minded drinker, they're a revelation. If you're a fan of the classics, though, chances are that they aren't for you.

Just for fun, we decided to do a dinner with a paired dish for each. To make things more interesting, we also invited my father-in-law. While Ron is definitely open to trying new things, I don't think he would mind me calling him a traditional wine drinker. He likes his Chardonnay oaked, his Shiraz bold and his whisky neat.

The benefit of having him around was that we were able to open all three bottles in one night and I got the opinions of someone new to the world of avante garde winemaking. Definitely a win-win.

So, without further ado, I present A Very Kalleske Dinner

Kalleske Plenarius Viognier 2021

Served with Panang Crocodile Skewers

This is, for most people, the weirdest of the three. If anything was going to make someone get up and leave, it would be this wine. This Viognier, after 11 days on skins and 10 months in oak, has a deep orange colour, some cloudiness and a whole lotta texture.

As it warms up slightly there is a pleasant bitter orange/lemon vibe. It's a little bit like a kombucha, a little bit like a farmhouse cider. Ron looked at it curiously and, after a few sips, seemed unimpressed. “I was expecting something life-changing. It's okay, I guess. But I wouldn't choose to drink it.”

But this wine has an ace up its sleeve. Those who know amber wines will already know this - they are amazing food wines. In this case, the wine didn't change the flavours of the dish, but the combination of protein, herbs and spice brought so much life to the wine. Suddenly, there was a swirl of energy and vitality.

The crocodile brought out so much more freshness – ripe nectarine, mandarin and orange juice – without overpowering anything. The wine itself just seemed to isolate and highlight flavours of the dish. Impressively, it seemed to thrive under the inevitable chilli hit that seems to sneak into most of my wife's cooking.

It's shocking just how nice this pairing is. Who knew – crocodile and amber wine? I think any aromatic Thai dish would work, really, whether it be a satay or curry. Even Ron was impressed by how much this wine changed with food. I actually saw him pour himself a second glass.

Kalleske Parallax Grenache 2021

Served with Tea Smoked Duck Breast with Plum Sauce

As a country, we're really starting to embrace Grenache in all its forms. This one is lighter, brighter and juicier, harvested 2-3 weeks early to capture that red berry freshness. It's the easiest of the three wines, I think.

Ron seemed very happy with it. “It's a little bit like a very light Pinot Noir. But much fruitier.” Bang on, really.

The wine just skims the surface of all the flavours. It's a refreshing experience more than anything else, with the acid cleansing the fatty richness of the duck. Being so clean and pure, it didn't conflict with any of the flavours, but danced in and around them. You could easily taste the wine and the food at the same time.

The smokiness of the duck was absolutely stunning and the juicy fruitiness was a beautiful combination. It felt like having some still-smoking cherry wood on your palate alongside a juicy smash of berries. It was beautiful.

And all three of us agreed. Which is a rare thing.

Kalleske Zeitgeist Shiraz 2021

Served with Scotch Fillet, Beetroot Rosti, Wild Leaves and Roast Carrots

Zeitgeist. It's such a good word. Time ghost. Inky, deep and dark, there's no doubt this is a serious wine. It saw no time in oak at all – so what you get is a pure expression of Shiraz and vintage. It's plump, rich and luscious, with plums, dark cherries and liquorice through and through. Despite appearances, this still comes in at 14.5%.

It's a Shiraz which really like roughage. The bitterness of the beetroot and leaves highlights the purity of the fruit and brings a certain joy to the wine, while the deep savouriness of the meat emphasises its clarity. This is a good pairing. It's not as amazing or as crazy as the other two, but it's safe and reliable.

'Holy hell,' said Ron. 'There is still so much body to this.'

He was right. Despite no oak, this was still a typical Barossa juggernaut. It strode boldly through the dish but without trampling any flavours. There was a certain deftness and agility here. It has all the power you'd expect from a Barossa Shiraz but it doesn't feel the need to shout about it. It's a great all rounder.

Massive colour difference between the two reds

By the end of the meal, we were well and truly stuffed. But we had gone easy on the wine and there was still about a half bottle of each left. So we starting chatting about the foodand then argued over the hot topics of the day. Typical dinner conversation.

We kept on helping ourselves to the already open wine. A glass here. Another there. One of the truest tests of wine in these situations, I think, is which bottle is emptied first. You can imagine my surprise when I reached for the Plenarius only to find it empty.

Ron looked at me with a cheeky twinkle in his eye, holding the last glass protectively in his hands.


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