Spider Bill Wines is the culmination of Tarrant Hansen’s abandonment of a budding career in research medicine to follow a path in wine. The passion for grapes took Hansen from Queensland to the South Australia to study, then subsequently around the world to refine his craft. Today, his Adelaide Hills label sees chardonnay and pinot noir rubbing shoulders with a brace of Italian varieties, and all are reflected in a lithe and elegant way.
There was a time, long ago, when it seemed that all vignerons came from a medical background. That was a bit more to do with the fact that they had the resources to indulge a serious wine habit and fund the planting of a vineyard. Tarrant Hansen’s career as a medical scientist in the Mycobacterium Reference Laboratory in Brisbane certainly didn’t leave him resourced enough for the latter, though it may have allowed a little space for the former.
Armed only with a passion for wine and a desire to make it, Tarrant Hansen and his wife, Melanie, upped stakes and moved to the Adelaide Hills in 2009. The Hills were chosen based on a Google search for “a good place to live [in South Australia]”, rather than as a targeted wine region, but that has proved somewhat fortuitous, with their location ideal to eventually sourcing grapes to make the cool climate wines that Hansen now favours.
Before the first vintage of Spider Bill in 2014, Hansen worked in the Langhorne Creek, at the Barossa’s St Hallett, Petaluma, in the Adelaide Hills, Wither Hills, in Marlborough, Rustenberg, in Stellenbosch, and significantly at Bera, in Barbaresco, where a passion for nebbiolo was fostered. Hansen is also a Master of Oenology, Adelaide University. And with all that experience, Hansen kept coming back to the Adelaide Hills, and not just because he lived there.
“The Adelaide Hills has just about everything you could possibly wish for in a wine region. There is a range of microclimates that allows for an interesting mix of grape varieties. It’s a community of diverse artisanal producers (not just wine related) that complement the brilliant wines produced by both established and up and coming winemakers. All this, in addition to being accessible to a major city where the bar and restaurant scene gives the perfect opportunity to showcase it all,” he says.
Whether working with chardonnay, pinot noir or nebbiolo, Hansen’s wines all have a purity and fineness to them, a poise. “The focus of Spider Bill Wines is to make approachable styles from varieties classic to the Adelaide Hills coupled with Italian varieties. I currently make chardonnay and pinot noir as well as dolcetto, barbera and nebbiolo. This vintage, I’m adding verdicchio to the mix, as I find it the most interesting of Italian white varieties, and I have grand aspirations of making nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio in vintages to come.”