Stephen Black, ‘The Mysterious Mr. Black’, with the help of his Conspirators, built this little winery in 1998. It was his idea to produce small batches of high quality wine. The fruit was to be sourced from his long time associates and dyslexic fiends; a macabre menagerie of farmers, philosophers, pharmacists, witchdoctors and warblers.
‘The Conspirators’ are all second and or third generation grape growers. They did and still do, grow grapes for some of the Barossa Valley’s and Australia’s most inspirational wines.
At the time many growers were disgruntled and ‘copping the rough end of the stick’ from the quickly growing Godzilla-like wine companies. So with spit in palm and firm grips, around a fire, drinking red labels, The Mysterious Mr. Black & Conspirators made their deals and decided to start a mutually agreeable winery. The deals that were decided upon on this fateful night are still unknown, some have speculated, but the truth is that we will never know how many lambs, rabbits, cows or children have been traded and eaten in return for grapes and wine. We do have it on good authority that no goats were injured in any part of the winemaking process.
As this little winery began to grow and become successful Mr. Black needed to source more and more fruit to supply the demand for an ever-expanding export market. The little parcels of fruit he was acquiring from his ‘old mates’ were being gobbled up in bigger and bigger blends of wine. He no longer required these little bits and pieces. There were no hard feelings with the Conspirators as he had helped them through a tough patch, and they had helped him create some of his most outstanding wines that in turn built his Small Gully brand into what it is today. Mr. Black & the Conspirators have stayed in touch and occasionally share a drink. But as anyone who is acquainted with the ‘old man’ knows, it’s ever harder to pin him down. If you make an appointment with him there’s a good chance he’ll be in China or walking a pilgrimage somewhere in spain.
‘Major Major never sees anyone in his office while he’s in his office.’-Catch 22, Joseph Heller.
While he has been busy on the road satiating the thirst of the masses, my younger brother Joe and I, both now having returned from our own educational adventures, have been fermenting The Mysterious Mr Black’s Formulae, de-criminalizing his Concoctions and bewitching his Black Magic. Always following the recipes and rituals as stipulated in The Little Black Book.
Over this time we have built our own friendships with The Conspirators and it is with them in mind, the opportunity to work with their acclaimed fruit and the chance to answer the beat of our own creative drums, that the evolution of The Mysterious Mr. Black & Conspirators began.
Small batches of fruit sourced from the original Co., facilitated into small batch wines, to remain small batch wines, ensuring the romantic dance between grape and facilitator is not compromised. Sourced from the same vineyards each year allowing seasonal variance and sub-regionality to shine. Complexity, depth, length, balance, enjoyment etcetera etcetera.
Every wine I make is made with thoughts of Dad. Whether it’s following one of his methods or blatantly breaking one, infatuating him with a blend or equally infuriating him that the blend is not his.
In all truth, every wine I make is his wine. Not always done his way, but hopefully always pleasing to his palate.
Ever gratefool for the hand I’ve been dealt.
C H A R L I E B L A C K