Posts Tagged ‘Vermentino’

New queensland wines: Spaniards, Italian, French and more

Queensland wine regions just keep coming up trumps: there are more wines to bedazzle.

The changes are quite quick now because the Australian wine industry has to innovate rapidly to stay abreast of the sway of importeds now found in supermarkets.

Often the multiples bring it to you based on price, not quality, but at least they are developing a better understanding drinkers’ marketplace.

So don’t feel thwarted if wines called lagrein, sagrantino, fiano, nero d’Avola, petit manseng or saperavi come at you, they have grown elsewhere for centuries but are now at a cellar door near you.

And if I have my way, in a restaurant near you too.

I continue to visit or locate local producers making outstanding new Australian varietals.

I have seen a couple (fiano, shiraz viognier) now used by the Adelaide-based organisation A+Plus Australian Wine presenting its one day wine school to Australian wine professionals in most capital cities.

A+Plus seems to fly under the radar a little but I trust they will move over this continent a little more.

Why the change in grape types? Well being first to make a fiano in this state (the grape grown in the home of pizza country-Naples) makes it a select group that sell it, as there are only about thirty fiano brands to date in this country against a sea of chardonnay.

That makes fiano wine special and when it becomes a Strange Bird varietal (wine trail on the Granite Belt); it is even more visible to white wine drinkers bored with sauvignon blanc.

Golden Grove maker Ray Costanzo on Sundown Road tells me he has stripped down his chardonnay production to a few barrels; buyers wish for his vermentino (Sardinian grape) instead.

IMG_3616 red

As climate change develops further the traditional cool climate habit varieties imported from France will keep struggling: riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon will suffocate as day temperatures elevate and the warm parts of the early growing season extend.

Meanwhile the southern Mediterranean-origin (southern Italy, France or Spain), Strange Bird varieties just love it. Heat is their natural bed partner, no more so than in southern Sicily where the red nero d’Avola grows so well over the past four hundred or so years.

Recent regional Queensland reviews in Smart Farmer have featured:

Symphony Hill Wines in February-March 2015

Dusty Hill Wines in December 2014-January 2015

Ravens Croft Wines in October-November 2014

Moffatdale Ridge Wines in August-September 2014

Golden Grove Estate June-July 2014

Berton Vineyard: grand scale New World Italian varietal wines

The appeal of Italian-origin varietal wines continues to create enormous volumes from Australian vineyards.

And my Italian travel experience of these makes the taste transition some much easier-drink it in Maremma then try the same vermentino varietal in Australia.

Vermentino Frenzy

Vermentino Frenzy

So I went investigating some production houses recently in an area where the country’s largest brands are domiciled – in the tiny town of Yenda fifteen kilometres east of Griffith.

Here is a call to action to think in millions of cases of Oz wine-think Casella (Yellowtail), De Bortoli, Beelgara and Berton, all on the one stretch of vine highway leading into this speck on the map.

And either side of the road are vineyards and citrus orchards, supported by water channels which cause the survival of this entire region. Once a desert in the 30s, now an oasis.

Berton majority owner, Bob Berton who is of northern Italian descent, calls his vineyard a farm, more a South African term than Aussie.

In Bob’s farm is an extensive plantings of pinot grigio, the grape with brown skins (few drinkers realise that) though many must wonder why their glass when poured in a local bistro is often a brassy colour.

You see our Italian cousins often do not employ the same level of technical control on the harvesting and juice expression-some wines will turn out orange from the old-fashioned wine school.  It is also the same outcome from natural wines made without sulphur addition.

Australian makers like Berton’s James Ceccato wish your pinot grigio to be pale, fresh and enlivening. Here is how he does it: “grapes are night harvested here in southern NSW to avoid the summer heat, no sulphur is used at harvest then the grapes are oxidatively handled to oxidise out any red colour collected during harvest and transport”.

Once a desert in the 30s, now an oasis 

Head over Heels Pinot Grigio 2013

Head over Heels Pinot Grigio 2013

Try Head over Heels Pinot Grigio 2013 (AUD 8) 12% to set the pace for value. Pale, yes, floral yes, nashi pear-yes, is the staple aroma, then mingling acidity and a nice crunchy mouthfeel to complete the wine. Just add a seafood salad.

I tried the same wine in the 2012 vintage-very little change there either, just a little steelier now. Pinot grigio is really the new riesling of the area.

The next Italian grape to grab on the visit is vermentino; has big bunches, grows well in Sardinia, in south western Tuscany (Grosseto) and now in  Yenda.

High end Berton Coonawarra & Eden Valley Cabernets

High end Berton Coonawarra & Eden Valley Cabernets

The Vermentino 2013 (AUD 12) 12% is enticing stuff, lots of obvious crunchy grape notes of an unwooded white ready to drink, lemon tastes, lots of creativity by Berton. Fuller wine than the pinot grigio, but that’s the genetics between the two. Add bbq snapper.

Berton has a vineyard in Eden Valley. The high end cabernet sauvignons featured  (AUD 17-25), 2008, 2009, 2010 are drawn from these vines and grapes purchased in Coonawarra.


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