In 2008 Coriole purchased Desert Sands, a 8ha vineyard in Blewitt Springs that had fallen on hard times. It had been planted in 1995, and been run on a diet of herbicides, lots of water and ineffective fertiliser. Coriole’s arrival saw the removal of chardonnay and pinot gris, the shiraz completely restructured due to the fungal disease eutypa. Over the following years chenin blanc, grenache, carignan, cinsaut, nero d’Avola, negroamaro, montepulciano, mourvedre, grenache blanc and sangiovese were planted.
Having had a lifelong interest in sci-fi novels, including the Dune series of American Frank Herbert, which I blithely assumed were the inspiration of the use of the Dune name. Between 1965 ad 1986 Herbert wrote six consecutive editions set far in the future on a desolate planet with deep sands being mined to produce a rare drug that extended life and mental abilities.
The resuscitation of the modern day Dune was a slow process, so much so that its first release didn’t occur until 2016. Brothers Duncan and Peter Lloyd had grown up immersed in the world of wine, olive oil, illegal goats cheese and great food. Medical practitioner Hugh Lloyd had founded Coriole in 1967, and in 1979 handed the reins to his son Mark, who had a science degree from Adelaide University, and had spent a year working for the English Vineyards Association, his task to vinify parcels of grapes grown by would-be vignerons from all parts of England.
Successive generations of the Lloyd family have had a wondrous sense of humour, possibly incubated by that year. Duncan studied oenology before working in Tasmania, Margaret River, Chianti and the Rhône Valley, ultimately returning to McLaren Vale for that first vintage of Dune in 2016. Peter left university before shovelling croissants in Paris, making cider in Somerset, raising alpacas in Sussex, and wine distribution in Melbourne. He returned to McLaren Vale in 2020, joining Duncan at Dune: the brothers say they can’t understand why you would want to live anywhere else.
2022 Dune The Empty Quarter
A blend of shiraz, mataro and grenache, plus a touch of touriga nacional. A beautifully detailed and handled wine that is a super-elegant version of standard GSM. The beauty of this wine and its blue/red fruits/berries demands it be consumed forthwith.
96 points, drink to 2029, 14.2% alc, Screwcap, $28
2022 Dune Blewitt Springs McLaren Vale Shiraz
Uses a mixture of whole bunch, whole berry and crushed fruit, matured in used oak for 12 months. Deeply coloured; full, rich, velvety black cherry, blackberry, spice all-sorts, tannins so round they disappear in the black fruits. Oh-so-easy to swallow if that wasn’t forbidden.
95 points, drink to 2035, 14.4% alc, Screwcap, $28
2022 Dune El Beyda
A blend of grenache blanc, grenache gris, clairette and piquepoul. Well that does it: a white wanting to be a red, maybe. It’s full to its eyeballs with spices more often encountered with red wines. Over-extracted? At the back-palate perhaps, but it rightens the yacht and we all lurch forward.
94 points, drink to 2029, 12% alc, Screwcap, $28