Winemaker: Marco Cirillo
Marco Cirillo is a ninth Generation grape grower and winemaker, whose forebears hailed from Calabria in Italy’s deep south. In 1959, Marco’s father Vince purchased one of the oldest surviving patches of Grenache Noir in the Barossa, a vineyard planted in 1848. Since 2003, Marco has made what is now one of the most defining of Barossa wines, from a grape variety that for too long remained in the shadow of Shiraz.
The fourth release of our Otherness 440 represents a change of vineyard. The first three vintages showcased the grapes from a vineyard on Presser Road, planted in black cracking clay. ‘Biscay’ soil as it’s often called encourages power and unusual varietal integrity.
Losing access to the Presser Road vineyard (which sadly has since been pulled out) meant that Marco and I had to begin sniffing around for a like-minded grower. Marco put me in touch with Sam and Sharon Schmidt, fastidious growers in the Siegersdorf subregion of the Barossa. The Schmidt’s vineyard is planted in deep white sand, which appealed to all of Marco’s vinous sensibilities: it’s a very similar terroir to that which nourishes his famous Nuraip Road 1850 Grenache vineyard.
Sand. Straight away I think of perfume. If you wanted muscle and richness, it would never be your first choice, but Otherness has never been about pushing that envelope. Perfume and poetry, lace and lift, filigreed precision, fine needlework are our stylistic drivers.
The 2020 has only recently been bottled and will continue to flesh out during the next decade in the cellar.
It remains a very popular accompaniment to Sam Smith’s slow-cooked lamb dishes.
Why 440? I spent much of my early working life working as a professional musician. I was often that guy who whacked a tuning fork against his knee, held it up to his ear before blowing a long penetrating note on his oboe, to which all members of the orchestra tuned their instruments. That note is A440: 440 hertz, and the oboe purportedly gets to play it because of the piercing, penetrating nature of its timbre.