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Tuesday 2 July 2024

From Beelbangera to a bottle store near you


If you are an habitué of liquor stores then you might be familiar with wine labels including Two Monkeys, The Drover, Nericon, La Sagra Prosecco and D-Reserve.

All are brands from a Riverina producer known as Dee Vine Estate, based at Beelbangera, which is a tiny speck on the map.

Beelbangera lies about two kilometres north-east of Griffith and about seven kilometres south-west of Yenda. The last time anyone counted, the population was under 400 people.

The big surprise for me: how well made the wines are across a broad spread of ranges and price points.

If you are looking for wines that don't bust the budget then wines from these ranges might be worth a look: particularly the shirazes, impressive across the board, and the vibrant young aromatic whites, designed for immediate drinking pleasure.

Dee Vine Estate was founded on two vineyards established by siblings Michele and Domenico Scarfone soon after they emigrated to Australia from southern Italy in 1956. 

Three generations later, family members Adrian Bianchini and Fernando Rombola have significantly expanded on the original Nericon holdings, yet the goal remains the same: to craft affordable Riverina table wines.

The first vines were planted in 1957, with the vision of producing traditional Italian table wines for the Australian wine drinker. 

"With almost 30 years working as a local grower of quality produce myself, I teamed up with fellow director Fernando Rombola and together we have significantly expanded our grandfathers' original parcel of land," says Bianchini.  

"We have remained true to our grandfathers' principles through every step of the journey; continuing a passion for fine wine and dedication to produce a remarkably distinctive product."

The geography of the vineyards is made up mainly of low-lying flood plains with a hot climate and plenty of irrigation from the Murrumbidgee River. 

The winemakers at Dee Vine Estate believe that "everyone who enjoys drinking wine should have access to a quality wine that is a pleasure to drink". 

In keeping with this, they "place concerted effort in the production of all of their wines to make them affordable and accessible to all."

And there are more vineyards on the way. 

The goal of the estate is to develop a sustainability plan, reduce energy use, use recycled packaging, incorporate recycling into the estate processes, and set standards to meet long-term sustainability goals.

That's great, but the prices are even better. 

The easy drinking wines in The Driver range have an RRP of $8. The Two Monkeys wines are around $9, and the Estate range sits at the $12 price point. The more complex Nericon range fetches $20 and the D-Reserve, made from grapes sourced from the cooler Adelaide Hills, also sit at around $20.

My favourites included the Two Monkeys 2023 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and the Dee Vine Estate Range 2022 Merlot.

Try one of the bargain buys. I suspect you might be pleasantly surprised.  


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