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Robert Parker | The Wine Advocate

Erin Larkin, The Wine Advocate, July 30, 2022

“Alkina is . . . how to describe it exactly . . . a project with what appears to be limitless funding—I am assured everything has a limit, but perhaps they are still finding theirs—and a laser-like focus on quality, dirt and terroir. It's thrilling. The vineyards are certified organic, mapped specifically to the soil types and made accordingly. The fermentation and maturation sheds are filled with good-looking, pristine, alternate vessels: concrete tulips, a custom qvevri, amphorae, eggs, plus some large-format old oak. I asked winemaker Amelia Nolan about this and she replied, "We go to so much trouble in the vineyard to support the terroir, we're not going to cover it up in the winery with oak." The ferments go through with the power of indigenous yeasts, and there are no additions during winemaking, save for sulfur at the end. The project was starting to sound very much like a natural wine project. But, with all the attention to detail, the abundant funding and the strict adherence to terroir, it also feels sophisticated and grown-up. An unendingly impressive project. The wines are pristine and quite out of step with "traditional Barossa" in terms of their construction, yet the dirt and terroir are foregrounded at all times. So, from another perspective, it is very, very Barossan. Awesome.”

2019 Alkina Polygon 5 Grenache

"The Polygon 5 is grown on a schist-dominant site, and the thread of tannin between the 2018 and 2019 shows a lineage of assertive, focused tannins. At no point, however, do they intrude on or impede the flow of the fruit. This 2019 Polygon 5 Grenache is supple, buoyant and spicy. It steps outside of the expected Grenache territory for the Barossa and treads a dangerously elegant and fine line. Thrilling. It has savory red fruits: salted redcurrants, pomegranate, raspberry. Wild. Layered. Earthy. Big, yes."  96+ points

2018 Alkina Polygon 5 Grenache

"The Polygons are wines made from vines whose isolation in the vineyard is determined by their bedrock. The Polygon 5 Grenache wines are grown on a base of schist and clay. This 2018 Polygon 5 Grenache is more savory than the Polygon 3 from the same vintage, without the curve and flow through the finish of the 3. I like the assertiveness of this wine; it is savory and structural and a little wild. Less tamed. Very impressive. It's a heady combination of satisfying, pleasurable and exciting. It was matured in thick-walled concrete that retains a freshness and builds a textural complexity and finesse. Excellent. Striking." 96 points

2019 Alkina Old Quarter GSM

"This 2019 Old Quarter GSM is fine and striking—the concentration of fruit is unmarred by oak, but has textural complexity and plushness in the mouth. The tannins in this wine are pliable, whippy and omnipresent, while bringing extreme pleasure and freshness to the wine. It has form and shape. Vitality. Purity. Finesse." 95+ points

2019 Alkina Polygon 3 Grenache

"Where the 2018 felt weighted down by the impact of oak through the finish, the 2019 Polygon 3 Grenache is a different story altogether. From the same patch of limestone earth and with a high proportion of whole bunch (70% for this vintage, up from 50% in 2018), this is streaks ahead in terms of fruit expression and tannic curve. I am so in love with these beautiful fruit tannins. They're fine-boned and exciting, a little bit chewy, certainly chalky and dusted throughout the wine. Ethereal. Excellent." 95 points

2020 Alkina Old Quarter GSM

"Alkina is an impressive project in the Barossa, and I heartily recommend that you seek them out, if dirt and details are your desire. They are mine. Certified organic and biodynamic fruit, the 2020 Old Quarter GSM is composed of 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 20% Mataro (Mourvédre). The Shiraz and Grenache components were treated the same as each other: handpicked, fermented separately with 100% whole bunches and wild ferment in concrete tulips. The Mataro was destemmed and fermented in an oak barrel (a big one). The components were then basket pressed and matured for 15 months in concrete egg, old oak and concrete tulip. A long introduction, I know, but fascinating don't you think? I haven't even touched on the soil types. In the glass, the wine is fragile, with very fine savory fruit underpinned by powdery tannins. The endurance of pristine flavor in the mouth tells us about the quality of the fruit resource. Impressive to the max. Wine for grownups—it's intellectual." 93+ points

2021 Alkina Kin Grenache

"The fruit for the 2021 Kin Grenache was grown on young bush vines (planted 2016) in schist-based soils across two blocks in the vineyard. Approximately 60% whole bunches went into the ferment. It was then fermented and matured in the same vessel—concrete tulips. In the mouth, the wine is very fine, stalky and pure, with freshening almost pulverized tannins; they’re like a clap of chalk—they’re everywhere. They’re structuring and they’re shapely and chewy in an excellent way, and the fruit is bright but not sweet. This is elegant and thrilling. Gorgeous. It is polarizing due to its febrile, nervous nature—but stylistically modern and forward thinking. Terroir-based wine here. There are notes of delicate orange blossom, green raspberries, rhubarb acidity, strawberry top and green apples threaded through the palate." 92 points

2021 Alkina Kin Wild Earth Field Blend

"The concept of a field blend has been stretched and folded over time, coming to mean a mélange of white grapes, often from the same vineyard, but not always. The 2021 Wild Earth Field Blend from Alkina is a true old-vine field blend. Not all the varieties are fully defined, but they are from the same patch in the vineyard. It is a majority of Semillon and an unconfirmed variety, though it is thought to be Ugni Blanc. There's green pea on the nose. On the palate, it is all about texture, with cheesecloth, spice and banana leaf. The wine is tense and gently bitter (like amaro)—knife-edge stuff. It's edgy and texturally soft and spicy as well, like a blade. On the other side of the same coin, it is plump, soft, delicate and textural.

While a polarizing wine, it is also super engaging and exciting. The grapes are destemmed, macerated and foot stomped before going into the qvevri. Once the grapes have fully fermented (wild, of course) with the lid off, "we build the lid in and let it do whatever it does next," says winemaker Amelia Nolan. "By the time the qvevri is emptied, the skins are paper thin. It goes through a sieve, then into a stainless steel tank to settle, then we sulfur it and bottle it. For us, the focus on natural is the farming. It's all got to come from there." 92 points

2018 Alkina Polygon 3 Grenache

"The Polygons are separate parcels of vines divided by the bedrock upon which they grow. Polygon 3 is a limestone base, and it materially affects the shape and flavor of the wine in the mouth. This 2018 Polygon 3 Grenache is slightly different to the 2019, in that it was matured in a small oak vessel, which makes an impact on the shape through the finish. The fruit flavors tend toward the bloody, the mineral, layered and earthy, punctuated by exotic spice, Earl Grey tea and even dried herbs through the finish. This 2018 was made with 50% whole bunches. There is purity here, freshness and vitality, however the oak is evident through the finish and drags the tannins somewhat." 92 points

2021 Alkina Kin Night Sky GSM

"The 2021 Night Sky Old Vines GSM in a nutshell: old vines, wild ferment, concrete tulip vessels. This is pure, dark, brooding and vital with layers of blood, iodine, salted licorice, blood plum skins and roasted meat fat." 91 points

2022 Alkina Kin Semillon

"Cloudy in the glass, with hues of mandarin and pink grapefruit peel, the 2022 Kin Old Vine Semillon has a nose of that skin-like character of orange peel and citrus zest, while the palate is chalky and layered with crushed minerals and white spice. The palate is far more beautiful than the nose. It is elegant and refined. Very smart." 90 points

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