Dada Wines

Random thoughts, essays and notes.

Great wines come naturally to Dada

Dada Wines release what is believed to be NZ’s first red wine without sulphur

A resistance movement is forming to win back the soul of wine from the commercial producers and their brand marketers. It comprises a small band of artisan winemakers inspired to find innovative ways to create wines that offer an extraordinary tasting experience.

David Ramonteu and Kate Galloway of Dada Wines are just such people, driven to challenge conventional principals of commercial wine production, adopting natural and (to the unskilled) risky techniques to create their wines.

Dada 1, a unique blend of white grape varieties, has already received critical acclaim since its first release with the 2007 vintage.

Now comes Dada2, a 2009 vintage blend of red varieties sourced from the Gimblett Gravels district. What makes this wine different, possibly a first in New Zealand, is that the wine has been made completely without the addition of Sulphur dioxide (SO2).

David and Kate explain their rationale for this approach as follows:

Why do winemakers use SO2?

“Essentially, for peace of mind and for consistency of production of commercial volumes of wine. Winemakers want the assurance that the wine will not alter in state or quality during the winemaking process and once it is in the bottle”

But don't yeasts give off some sulphur during fermentation?

 “Yes they do but this is naturally occurring and the amount that remains in Dada 2 was so insignificant it could not be detected by laboratory testing conducted for Export Certification.”

Can the absence of sulphur affect the ageing potential of the wine - could it age more quickly?

 “A wine made in the conventional way would definitely age more quickly. It is fair to say that with Dada 2 being our first such wine, we don't truly know how it will age but expect it to evolve gracefully over 8-10 years.

 Because we are working with the natural anti-oxidant properties in the wine (redox potential) we believe it will have at least the same aging potential as wine made with sulphur.

 What we do know however is that Dada 2 is very stable in the bottle. A sample bottle opened for up to 2 weeks shows no signs of oxidation, and still retained freshness of taste.”

So, why buy a wine without SO2? 

“To make a red wine without SO2, you need to use grapes that are naturally pristine, balanced and concentrated.  This only occurs when you have a great site and every effort is made in the vineyard.  In these cases, the wine has the natural ability to find its ecological balance between yeast and bacteria and it has the natural ability to resist oxidation – reductive power.”

‘Natural wine’ seems to be very much in vogue. Is this simply marketing?

No, we are creating a new class of wine that is made as naturally as possible, yet is subject to the same judgement as a wine made in a conventional manner. In our experience, so called ‘natural wines’ can come with a risk of faults and we don’t accept that should be the case. We believe it is of utmost importance to produce a wine that is fault free which can therefore be trusted by the consumer. 


What are the benefits to the consumer?

“Dada 2 is a wine that is cleaner, more pure, intense and transparent.  The colour is better and the wine has a unique suppleness.  The architecture of the wine is generally more round and fluid and without any harshness or dry tannins. 

Some consumers have intolerance towards additives in wine, resulting in headaches, asthma or lethargy so the absence of SO2 will minimise the potential for any of these symptoms.

Ultimately, it’s an opportunity to feel good drinking a rare wine that has been made as close to nature intended, with little intervention from the winemaker other than constant care and attention.”

Will the consumer be paying a premium for having no added SO2?

“No, the RRP of $70 represents the fact that it is a small volume wine (only 100 cases made) of exceptional quality from a proven outstanding vintage.  The fact that it is made without SO2 doesn’t have a bearing on the price however it is our guarantee that this wine is the product of the best fruit available, a high level of technical competence and philosophical integrity.”

The fingers of a wooden hand mannequin is used to graphically represent the numerical symbol of the Dada Wines. It is both unconventional and a...