Growing a vineyard and starting a winery takes an awful lot of investment, both in money and time. This has thus led to the evolution of the ‘virtual winemaker’, someone who buys grapes and rents winemaking facilities and equipment in order to make the wine. It’s become quite a common practice, particularly in Australia, allowing winemakers to get a great start in the industry without having to drown in debt before they even whiff a profit. Con-Greg Grigoriou grew up in the Riverland region of South Australia, the son of a winery manager who had worked in the industry for 35 years. While working for an advertising agency in Melbourne, Con-Greg tasted a Riverland wine that made him wonder why high-quality drops weren’t appearing so regularly in the region. And so, Delinquente was born in 2013. The cultivation of the grapes is mainly left to the growers, who have planted southern Italian varieties well suited to the Riverland’s climate, and Con-Greg makes the wine wherever he is able to find suitable winery facilities (hence the ‘virtual’ bit).
The name of the venture (meaning ‘delinquent’ or ‘unruly’ in Italian), informs of Con-Greg’s approach to wine, which is to not follow established rules or expectations. In other words, those expecting run-of-the-mill chardonnay or shiraz better look elsewhere. The grape varieties used include many you’ll rarely find outside Italy: bianco d’Alessano; vermentino; lagrein; nero d’Avola; negroamaro; montepulciano. The styles available are also diverse, such as ‘pétillant naturel’ (otherwise known as ‘pet nat’), which means ‘naturally sparkling’. Two versions are available - one from bianco d’Alessano and one from vermentino/lagrein - which are fermented in steel tanks and then put in bottle under crown seal and allowed to finish the ferment, which helps to create the bubbles. All the wines, including the reds, are made to be light and enjoyed when young. Final mention should be made of the idiosyncratic label designs, created by artist Jason Koen, which gel incredibly well with the names of the wines, such as ‘Screaming Betty’, ‘Roxanne the Razor’ and ‘The Bullet Dodger.’Discover more about Delinquente Wines here.