Dilworth & Allain is the budding label of Loique Allain and Chris Dilworth, launched in 2017. Based in the Macedon Ranges, they currently make a riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir from three vineyards, one of which they help farm organically. The wines reflect a desire to work as naturally as possible, while they convey site and variety with bell-clear vitality.
Chris Dilworth was born into hospitality, with his parents owning a restaurant in Willoughby, in Sydney, before buying a farm in Belford, in the Hunter Valley. That familiarity with restaurants stuck with Dilworth and he took a job straight out of school working for legendary Hunter Valley chef (via Algeria) Robert Molines in Pokolbin (Molines is now at Bistro Molines, in Mount View). Wanderlust eventually got the better of him, and he carried plates in Sydney, Melbourne and London, but it was an interest in wine ignited working for Molines that saw him enrol at the University of Adelaide to study viticulture and winemaking. He graduated in 2011. Dilworth has worked vintages in the Hunter Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Tasmania, Tuscany and in Burgundy.
Dilworth credits a stint in 2012 in Tuscany at Castello dei Rampolla with changing the way he looks at wine. “Firstly, they’re great people, generous, with the courage to execute what they believe in. Organic farming from the early 90s and then biodynamic from the late 90s. There is significant exploration in the cellar using different techniques and vessels and the wines are allowed to be expressive and reflective. Luca inspires and reassures us that it is important to make the wines you want to make and not to veer away from this paradigm,” Dilworth says.
Allain came by wine via a different route entirely. An artist, like her parents, Allain’s work and study trips (she’s an honour’s graduate in fine arts, majoring in printmaking – her work is on the labels, too) through France and Italy inspired her love of wine, and vintage work in McLaren Vale cemented it. When Allain secured a scholarship for a residency at a printmaking studio in Paris in 2013, Dilworth arranged vintage work at Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon in the Mâcon, in Burgundy’s south. What was planned as a three-month stay was extended until the following vintage, with the pair WWOOFing (WWOOF is a program that connects volunteers to work on organic farms to learn the ropes) across France. The following vintage was at Domaine des Comtes Lafon, in Meursault, for Dilworth, and at Domaine Paul Pillot for Allain.
The pair eventually moved to Hepburn when Owen Latta offered Dilworth an opportunity to work at Eastern Peake, in Coghills Creek. Oddly, for the wine obsessed, they were living in the Tiwi Islands at the time, but they had an intimate knowledge of the area, as Dilworth had studied with Joshua Cooper (of his eponymous label, and son of Alan and Nelly Cooper of Cobaw Ridge) and they had both visited the Macedon Ranges, and surrounds, often over the years. He still works alongside Latta, and the Dilworth & Allain wines are made in the Eastern Peake winery.
Working out of the Macedon Ranges, the pair’s first wine under the Dilworth & Allain label came from the 2017 vintage, and they currently make a riesling, which rests on skins for two weeks, a textural yet racy chardonnay from the old Cope-Williams vineyard and a pinot noir from Doug Newnham’s celebrated Romsey site, which they also help farm.
“Our philosophy has been to make wines that we would love to drink. That have a sense of place and are able to tell a story. We seek to make wine that is refreshing and interesting, allowing time for maturation and evolution in the cellar. We believe in producing wines that are un-fined, unfiltered, using natural yeasts and with sulphur being the only additive along the way,” Allain says.
Dilworth & Allain were named the 2020 Young Gun of Wine. The pair also took out the Best New Act at the same awards, making Young Gun history.