Dandelion Vineyards is the venture of self-titled ‘typist’ Zar Brooks, his winemaking wife Elena and growers Carl Lindner and Brad Rey, with wines made from the Barossa and Eden Valleys, Fleurieu and McLaren Vale.
Nick Stock, one of Australia’s leading journalists, has described Dandelion as follows: “Brooks has teamed up with his winemaking wife Elena, a woman whose talents are outweighed only by her tolerance, in an exciting new venture called Dandelion Vineyards. The approach is remarkably simple and sees Elena making wine from a suite of beautiful old vineyards identified by Carl Lindner and Brad Rey across that blessed curve that runs from the Barossa, up through the Eden Valley and Adelaide Hills and down into McLaren Vale.”
The ‘blessed curve’ that Nick refers to is at the heart of what Dandelion does. So successful have they been that Elena stunned the Barossa in 2014 by winning ‘Winemaker of the Show’ at the Barossa Show. Her ‘Lionheart of the Barossa’ Shiraz is classic Barossa Shiraz, and remarkable value, while the ‘Menagerie of the Barossa’ is an opulent Grenache dominant field blend. Moving up into the Eden Valley, the ‘Red Queen’ was the wine for which Elena was crowned ‘Winemaker of the Show’, while the ‘Wonderland’ Riesling, from a gnarled and venerable vineyard, is outstanding.
Dropping down into the McLaren Vale and Zar’s office at the Salopian Inn, the wines show the tremendous generosity and freshness that marks out this fine region. The ‘Lioness’ complements the Lion, while the ‘Lion’s Tooth’ is given a lot more vibrancy by the inclusion of Riesling in the blend. The Cabernet has lovely berry fruit, just to remind us how undervalued this variety is in Australia, before we move onto 30-year-old ‘Legacy of Australia’. This very old PX is quite a treat, like all the Dandelion wines.