Posted on 26 February 2020
Brash Higgins is the alias of Brad Hickey, a Chicago native whose wanderlust took him around the world, developing a love of wine and food on the way. On returning to the United States he ended up in New York where following a stint as a food writer, he began crafting wine lists, eventually becoming the wine director for David Bouley’s Michelin-starred empire.
Having spent years talking about and selling wine, the next step in the journey was to make it. This led him to leave the Big Apple to work a vintage in McLaren Vale where he was given his nickname by the locals, in honour of his larger-than-life personality and big city ways. It was here that the wanderer finally settled, marrying local vigneron Nicole Thorpe, with whom he developed his eponymous label using grapes grown on their own organic Omensetter Vineyard as well as fruit sourced from like-minded growers.
Brad’s lack of formal training has become an advantage, helping him to craft a range of wines which allow his experimental nature and pure instinct for flavour to shine through. Trying to add something new to the winemaking dialogue, Brash Higgins makes amphora wines, field blends, co-ferments and sources biodynamic fruit to supplement their own organically grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Nero d'Avola, all made in a micro-artisanal Winery located on the estate.
Hickey’s love of travel is also reflected in the labels which adorn his wine bottles, with the abbreviated grape names mimicking the international airport codes which undoubtedly litter his well-travelled suitcases.
We have six wines available from Brash Higgins for sale online by the bottle, case or mixed case.
Brash Higgins ZBO Zibibbo
For this wine, Brash Higgins uses the delightful Italian synonym for Muscat d’Alexandria, Zibibbo. The grapes are sourced from the highly regarded Ricca Terra Farms in the Riverland, whose sustainably farmed seventy-five-year-old bush vines are planted on red ironstone soils. After hand harvesting, the grapes were destemmed into 200-litre beeswax-lined clay amphorae to ferment using only wild yeast. The wine was left in contact with the skins for 180 days, before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. The resulting wine is intensely aromatic, with notes of apricots, elderflowers and honey on the nose. This suggestion of sweetness, however, is false and on the palate, the wine is bone dry, with a bold tannic grip from the skin contact.
Brash Higgins CHN Chenin Blanc
Fruit for the Brash Higgins CHN Chenin Blanc are sourced from Dr Grantley Gill’s Willamba Hill vineyard, in the Blewitt Springs subregion of McLaren Vale. This vineyard was planted in 1991 at a density of around 400 vines per hectare on predominantly white sandy soils, and is farmed sustainably. The grapes were harvested by hand and macerated on their skins for two days prior to pressing. Fermentation took place using indigenous yeasts in old, neutral ex-white burgundy barrels and the wine was left to age on its lees for twelve months, before being bottled without fining. Flavours of citrus, honey, apples and straw dominate, whilst the lees ageing gives a succulent texture to the palate. The Chenin’s natural acidity is perfectly complemented by a delicate saline streak that runs through to the finish.
Brash Higgins CBSV Cabernet Sauvignon
The CBSV Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from Brash Higgins’ own twenty-year-old organic Omensetter vineyard, planted on limestone and clay soils. The grapes were harvested by hand and then passed to open-top fermenters where they fermented using native yeast, with an eighteen day maceration period. Following this, the wine was passed to 300-litre French oak barrels, one of which was new and the rest between two and ten years-old, where it aged for fifteen months. A pleasing combination of savoury and earthy flavours alongside ripe, sweet fruit. Blackcurrant and plum give way to notes of bay, cinnamon and vanilla, whilst the chewy tannic backbone gives substance and structure.
Brash Higgins GR/M Grenache Mataro
The Brash Higgins GR/M is a red wine blend of Grenache (70%) and Mataro (30%), sourced from a biodynamically farmed vineyard in McLaren Vale’s Blewitt Springs sub region. Both the Grenache and Mataro grapes were harvested by hand on the same day, before being co-fermented in one-ton open-top fermenters. The Mataro goes in first as whole bunches and it is crushed by foot. The destemmed Grenache then follows on top. The ferment is then hand-plunged twice daily over a three-week period, before being pressed to seasoned French oak barrels for twelve months’ ageing. There is a seamless blend of the Grenache's cherry and red berry flavours alongside the Mataro’s darker, spicier notes. The palate is full and rich, with the tannins providing structure, whilst being soft enough to give a supple, elegant finish.
Brash Higgins FRNC Cabernet Franc
The Brash Higgins FRNC Cabernet Franc is made with grapes from Peter Somerville’s sustainably farmed Clos Antonio vineyard in McLaren Vale’s Whites Valley, which was planted on cracked black clay soils in 2001. After harvesting, the grapes were destemmed and underwent fermentation in open-topped fermenters using native yeasts, with a three week maceration period, before being pressed. The wine then spent twelve months in six to twelve-year-old 300-litre French oak barrels before being bottled unfined. Combining dark berry flavours with Cabernet Franc’s distinctive capsicum notes, this is robust and well-structured, but the tannins are supple and rounded enough to give the wine a pleasing mouthfeel, whilst adding length to the finish.
Brash Higgins MCC Mataro / Cinsault / Carignan
The Brash Higgins MCC is a red wine blend of Mataro (60%), Cinsault (20%) and Carignan (20%) sourced from Michael Lennon’s organically farmed vineyard in Whites Valley. The grapes were all harvested by hand on the same day, before being co-fermented in three one-ton open-top fermenters. The Mataro (Mourvèdre) was 100% whole-bunch fermented, whilst 60% of the Cinsault and 40% of the Carignan was destemmed, with a two-and-a-half-week maceration period. The wine then spent twelve months in eight to ten-year-old 300-litre French oak barrels before being bottled unfined. The pale colour belies the heady aromas of wild cherries, flowers and spice that burst out of the glass. The palate is full of ripe red fruit flavours, framed against notes of bitter almonds and herbs, whilst the delicate, chalky tannins and vein of acidity lift the finish.