Who wouldn’t at least be curious about a wine called “Bronco Buster”? It turns out that it’s a superb blend from the Ricca Terra winery in the Riverland area of South Australia (more on the name in a minute).
The grapes — Fiano, Vermentino, and Greco — are far more likely to be found in their native Italy than Australia. But the Ricca Terra winery’s mission is to grow and showcase such unusual (for Australia) varieties.
Riverland, the country’s largest wine region by volume, lies in the southeast corner of the state of South Australia near the Murray River, which supplies vital water for irrigation.
Well-known varieties like Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon are the workhorses here and go into countless inexpensive “supermarket” wines, among others. But Ricca Terra’s vision was “to use grape varieties that are better suited to the warm and dry climatic conditions of the Riverland,” the winery states on its website.
So, beginning in 2003, owners Ashley and Holly Ratcliff planted Mediterranean varieties like the Fiano, Vermentino, and Greco that make up the Bronco Busters blend, as well as red grapes like Nero d’Avola, Montepulciano, and Aglianico.
They point out that the grapes in Bronco Buster “have a common theme, they all have an ability to hold loads of natural acid when grown in warm viticultural climates.”
Indeed, that bright acidity jumps out on tasting Bronco Buster, which has aromas and tastes that suggest grapefruit and green apple along with touches of sage and fennel seed and a hint of cream on the finish. The various grapes in the blend are fermented together, then aged in stainless steel tanks with no exposure to oak.
With alcohol at a modest 12 percent, the wine, priced at around $25, is excellent as an aperitif and will work well with all kinds of appetizers, simply prepared fish dishes, sushi, and Thai food.
As for the name “Bronco Buster,” it’s a reference to Ashley Ratcliff’’s life, before wine, training wild horses. It certainly jumps out on wine store shelves — and on the palate. The 2019 vintage is also available at some stores.