I first ran into Brad Hickey (winemaker at Brash Higgins) at Rootstock Wine Festival in 2016. That year, I joined along as a volunteer and I have to say, it shaped many directions that we have explored here at Wildflower, so a huge huge thanks to the founders and organisers of that awesome, temporal and seminal series of festivals. Back to Brad... as soon as we met, he immediately pulled out a strangely shaped bottle under cork and yellow wax, poured some into my glass and it blew my mind. What I would come to learn was that Brad had just given me a look at his Bloom 2008. An oxidative chardonnay aged under flor for 8 years. From that moment, I have made a point to seek out his wines.
While every wine in the range is precise and balanced, one stood out to me in particular, the ZBO. With huge aromas, it reminded me so much of our Gold and a few hops in particular. I knew I had to get back in touch, and on a trip to Adelaide in early 2017, I visited BH HQ for the first time at the Omensetter Vineyard in the McLaren. It was on that visit we hatched a plan to marry this wine with our beer.
The wine is unique itself, so this was never going to be a case of a simple refermentation. Brad describes the making of the wine in 2020 as: "Hand picked, the golf ball sized, bronze fruit was destemmed into waiting terracotta amphorae. A wild ferment ensued with the caps hand plunged twice daily until the ferment finished and the skins sank into the wine. The skins, seeds and juice remained covered in situ for six months. A natural FLOR layer of yeast volunteers itself and covers and helps protect the wine. The ‘free run’ was siphoned off in Spring and combined with the pressings. The wine settles before being racked and sent to bottle unfiltered and unfined."
Instead of marrying fresh fruit and aged beer, we blended the pressed skins out of the amphora, after that 6 month fermentation/ageing in clay with both barrel aged Gold and some young Gold. The beer then aged and slowly fermented, getting drier for 4 months in contact with the skins. We bottled this blend on 16 December 2020 and allowed it to travel through maturation and natural carbonation in bottle for 16 weeks.
Upon release, it's nose is reminiscent of sweet pineapple and melon balanced by lifted lemon sherbet and sweet candy. Gentle skinsy spice gives wonderful lift. The palate carries the pineapple motif with bitter orange fruit, layered with gentle phenolics and tempered acidity create a lovely harmony. Flavoursome and familiar.
Zibeerbo 2020 is bottled into 375ml bottles and 1.5 litre magnum and is 5.2% ABV. We will have 360 bottles [limit of 6 p/p] and 10 magnums [lim 1p/p] available online on Friday 9 April at 12pm Sydney time as well as 240 bottles available at cellar door. Around 1,000 bottles will be made available to our stockists across Australia and will lastly be available by the glass at cellar door for a limited time.
Like all our beers, Zibeerbo is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).