Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Graft Wine’s Nik Darlington introduces the company’s new wines

Published:  24 July, 2019

Nik Darlington and David Knott have been busy since merging Red Squirrel and The Knotted Vine to create the Graft Wine Company, signing up a raft of new producers and wines to bring to the UK.

With new wines from Australia, Austria, South Africa and Spain in the portfolio there will many making their UK debuts when Graft hosts its inaugural trade tastings in September.

Ahead of these events, Nik Darlington introduces these new producers and explains why their wines are such a good fit for Graft and the UK market.

Even Keel/Polperro

“We came across Sam Coverdale and his Polperro and Even Keel wines at Red Squirrel actually via a tip-off from an old friend of ours, Beth Brickenden of Street Feast's Winerama, who tried Sam's wines at the Mornington Peninsula tasting in London last September. We were hooked as Sam's philosophy of purity of fruit, sustainable viticulture, and fresher styles from cooler climes was right up our street, and David's at the Knotted Vine. Mornington is also a region we'd never explored, and nor had David, so it fits nicely into what's now with Graft a pretty wide-ranging Australian portfolio. Sam farms his Mornington vineyards - which include the highest in the area - organically and biodynamically, while the Even Keel wines showcase cooler climates around Australia, such as Canberra and Tumbarumba. The Polperro wines are perfect for the premium on-trade buyers in particular, with real Burgundian class to them and food friendly structure, while Even Keel should appeal to indies wanting to differentiate and show off some of the lesser-known regions of Australia.”


“David came across Dan Sigurd was earlier this year and showed his wines for the first time at the London Wine Fair but they have only just arrived and ever since the Fair we've all been super excited about getting out and about with them. His Chenin Blanc from the Clare Valley is amazing, redolent of the best examples from the Swartland in South Africa, waxy and mineral. Sommeliers will fall head over heels for this and Dan's red and white blends from the Barossa Valley, which marry unexpected bedfellows Primitivo-Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre for the red and Riesling-Semillon-Vermentino-Gewürztraminer-Sauvignon Blanc for the white.”

Andreas Gsellmann

“Rob Woodhead, who was Red Squirrel buyer for three years and discovered young Austrian talents Arnold Holzer and Martin Diwald before moving into sales, had been keeping tabs on Andreas Gsellmann and his natural wines in Burgenland for a while. We've kicked off with three wines that should really appeal to anyone in search of texture-rich natural wines. My favourite is probably Zu Tisch Weiss, which literally means ‘Table White’, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Weissburgunder and Neuburger (a rare Austrian crossing of Roter Veltliner and Sylvaner), the Sauvignon has 10 days on skins, there's no oak but full malo. It's intensely fruity on the nose but then herbal and mineral and long to taste.”

Matthew van Heerden

“I was introduced to Matthew by Jacques de Klerk, whose Reverie wines we've been working with at Red Squirrel since last year. He was the winemaker at Iona and then Uva Mira, named in the top 10 winemakers in the world by the IWSC in 2006 and then South African Young Winemaker of the Year in 2011. He's probably more knowledgeable about the vineyards of Elgin than any of the younger new wave of winemakers in South Africa, and it's from there that he sources most of the grapes for the only two wines he makes under his own name, a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The latter was named last year by Tim Atkin as one of SA's finest Chardonnays, and both wines will appeal to buyers of any persuasion who just love really, really top-drawer Pinot Noir and Chardonnay because these are some of the very best South Africa has to offer.”

Bodegas Nekeas

“Nekeas came to us as something of a joint project, former Red Squirrel buyer Miranda Fong working with David Knott on it in the run-up to the merger. Two great entry-level Navarra wines have just arrived as brilliant by-the-glass options, with Viura-Chardonnay for the white and Tempranillo-Garnacha for the red. These are from some impossibly steep slopes at 450-650 metres above sea level, and revived old vineyards.”

Graft’s portfolio tastings take place in London on September 10th, Edinburgh on September 16th and Manchester on September 18th. Full details