McLaren Vale organic producer Gemtree Wines has taken digging deep to a new level. Winemaker Mike Brown and viticulturist Melissa Brown have turned the unearthing of their Subterra barrel project into something incredibly special.

It’s a unique concept that involves sourcing their finest shiraz grapes, a 225 litre French oak barrique covered in beeswax and a very big shovel. The barrique is buried two metres underground in the same vineyard as the grapes for six months before being dug up for a further year’s maturation in bottle.

As far as Gemtree knows, its buried wine barrel is the first of its kind.

“As far as we know we are the only producer in Australia who does this and pretty much the world,” Mike says. “They do it in Georgia with clay pots, but it’s a different technique. It’s part of our journey as a brand and we like to challenge the processes that go on with winemaking.”

The idea ties in closely with Gemtree’s organic and biodynamic concept of “What lies beneath?” – a reference to soil health.

The 2019 Subterra (A$250) is one of the most lively wines I have tasted. It has a bright purple hue, the nose shows red and purple fruits moving into Indian spice, bay leaf, sage and eucalyptus. The palate continually evolves as it opens in the glass, from dark fruits to jam to spice to earth and umami.

Go to