Winemaker insights – an interview with Brendan Carter from Unico Zelo
This week we have Brendan Carter from Unico Zelo chatting to us about all things vino. Brendan makes amazing ‘alternative varietal’ wines from the Adelaide Hills and has recently just launched a new range of wines. Brendan’s wines have been making some big splashes in the wine industry over the past 12 months and are selling like hot cakes across the country (so many sold out before even getting to be on the website). We pick his brains about what makes Unico Zelo so hot at the moment…
About the wine…
So tell me a little about Unico Zelo.
is a little winery based in Gumeracha, Adelaide Hills – that is family-owned and run by myself and my wife, Laura. We focus on crafting wines that are unashamedly Australian, from varieties that we believe can express their site most accurately. Namely – Fiano, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Nero d’Avola (and friends) – varieties that require minimal irrigation or fuss in the winery!
How did you get into winemaking?
I worked a vintage in France (Champagne to be exact) – that saw me fly to Adelaide and begin my studies in Viticulture and Oenology. There I met Laura, who was studying Agriculture – and found herself employed by a well-known winery in Eden Valley, she very quickly fell in love with the challenge and enjoyment of winemaking too.
What do you think has been the highlight or your greatest achievement in winemaking so far?
Crafting our own Fiano – it was a dream of mine from the very moment I decided that I wanted to make wine.
Favourite grape to make wine with?
No guesses – Fiano.
Are you experimenting with anything a little unusual or outside the box?
Every vintage we experiment! Last vintage it was a little skin-contact potpourri of varieties in an attempt to make orange wines even more scrumptious and approachable. This year we’re doing multiple Fiano projects – but we’re keeping quiet on them I’m afraid 😉
Who else within the wine industry do you admire or like?
There’s simply too many to name. But if you really pressed for an answer at this moment, it’d be Bart Van Olphen – A quiet achiever that’s a winemaking force to be reckoned with. I admire his outlook and attitude – he’s picked me up a few times! – he’s one of the movers and shakers of the Bucket Wine project! Google it – and enjoy.
What is your biggest challenge in the current Australian wine market?
Getting people to pronounce ‘Nebbiolo’ correctly – I kid…I’d say resisting uber-expansion. The scope of the Australian grape-growing world allows for insane expansion, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be followed!
Are you targeting any International markets?
Nope! But we do field a lot of enquiries – I’d love to take our wines overseas! The thought of the ‘new Australia’ of wine, being represented on the world stage excites me…we’ve had a misrepresentation of Australian wine internationally, for too long now.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
With our own vineyards and a close-knit group of growers working with us. Helping other winemakers understand and appreciate the varieties that we currently know as ‘new’ or ‘alternative’.
What’s your favourite cellar door to visit?
Yelland and Papps. That’s an easy one!
Outside of winemaking what do you love doing?
Graphic Design! I’m a design and architecture nut.
Favourite Game of Thrones character?
Was an epic fan of Oberyn! Until his head exploded…I’m still a bit shattered to be honest.
What tunes are currently listening to?
Jackie Onassis and Bonobo.
Finally, for those uninitiated to your awesome wines, what do you currently recommend them trying and why?
! Underrated, and misunderstood. Shove it in the fridge, chill it down and share with food and friends! [Ed note: Extremely limited stock left – down to the last couple of cases so buy now or forever hold your peace]
Many thanks to Brendan for taking the time to share some insights into his wines and life. You can find Unico Zelo wines here: https://www.winecloud.com.au/shop/unico-zelo/