Rose blooms again

Rose Kentish (Photo: Ulithorne Wines)

Rose Kentish and her husband Sam lost control of their Ulithorne wine business last year in an unfortunate and unhappy way, but she’s bounced back full of beans and enthused by new projects.

First and foremost Rose has a new brand, simply named Rose Kentish, and there are two newly released red wines: a 2015 Tempranillo Shiraz and a 2016 Shiraz Tempranillo Mourvèdre, both AUD $26 and both from McLaren Vale.

Rose is sourcing grapes from a handful of her most loyal growers: Jim and Vic Zerella, André Bondar and Goe Di Fabio. The various vineyards give her a range of terroirs from the Biscay soils of Aldinga to the sandy soils of Blewitt Springs. The ’16 blend is my pick: it’s a delicious, fruit-driven, medium-bodied red in a modern, elegant, soft-tannin style. Husband Sam is a painter, and both labels feature bold splashes of paint from his brushes.

Rose is continuing her French wine project, a Provencal rosé, a Corsican vermentino and a Corsican blend of rare red varieties. The 2016 rosé and vermentino are on the water, due to arrive in Australia at the end of August, while the red blend is still in oak in Corsica. They will also bear the Rose Kentish brand instead of Ulithorne, with new livery.

It’s early days for the marketing, but so far retail stockists include Summer Hill Wine Shop in Sydney, Fix St James’s online wine store, and in Melbourne, Armadale Cellars. Rose has no wholesale agent but is for the time being dealing direct via her website.

Rose says she’s always been fascinated by flavour, and in a sense, it doesn’t really matter what the vehicle is – food, wine, cider, beer, fruits and vegetables. Since winning the Female Winemaker of the Year award in 2015, she’s been keen to mentor younger female professionals, and to that end her other new project is Sparkke: a range of canned drinks including sparkling wine, pilsner, apple cider, brewed lemonade, and ginger beer brewed from whole ginger.

The umbrella brand-name Sparkke refers to the desire to ‘spark a conversation’.

“That’s the aim, to make it a talking-point,” she says.

Each canned product has a ‘cause’. The sparkling wine is branded “Say I Do!” and its cause is marriage equality. “Nipples are Nipples” is the lemonade, whose message is gender equality. “Change the Date” is a pilsner and the message is changing the date of Australia Day to respect the original owners of the land. “Boundless Plains to Share” is a ginger beer, and its cause is asylum seekers (the words are plucked from our National Anthem). There’s a cider, whose cause is sexual consent awareness, named “Consent Can’t Come After You Do”, which possibly discouraged some larger, more conservative retail chains from stocking it!

All four (except the sparkling wine) are also sold in kegs. The pilsner is AUD $70 a case of 16 x 375ml cans; the other three are AUD $60. These four are also being wholesaled in the eastern states, by Bacchant in NSW and Imbibo in Victoria.

“Say I Do!” is AUD $7.50-$8 a can retail, and also comes in a six-shipper or a case of 24, and its can is different from the other Sparkke drinks. Its 250ml capacity is designed to offer two and a half standard drinks, so a couple can conveniently share a can.

A percentage of the price of each product goes to the cause, which is detailed on the can and the website.

Sparkke is an all-woman business: the winemaker and brewer are both young women, seeking to create change for the better in male-dominated industries.

The catch-cry is Sparkke change – ‘booze with a social conscience’. It’s a very clever and very worthwhile idea. And the booze is good!

One thought on “Rose blooms again”

  1. Tim Jirgenson says:

    The DONA range is superb drinking. Great price point too. I love drinking her wine.

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