I recently spent a week up in the sun-drenched town of Mildura as an associate judge for the Australian Alternative Varietal Wine Show. In the lead up I found myself embracing all things alternative, delicious and interesting.
OLIVER’S TARANGA VINEYARDS Fiano 2012
McLaren Vale, South Australia
Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards is a family-run property headed by effervescent winemaker, Corrina Wright, who is a strong supporter of alternative varieties and their suitability for the McLaren Vale region.
Fiano is a native variety of the southern Campania region in Italy and produces distinctive wines inland from the city of Naples. This particular Fiano, produced in McLaren Vale, is part of their Small Batch range that includes Tempranillo, Sagrantino, Vermentino, Moscato and Grenache.
The Oliver’s Taranga Fiano is a medium-bodied white with aromas of sweet white florals, citrus fruit and smoked turkey breast. Its zesty acidity as it touches the palate has an immediate cleansing effect. The follow through is supported by mid-palate generosity with savoury characters like sage and minerals, and a chalky texture and yeasty richness at the finish. Is there really any wonder why my daily drinking is often dotted with wines from Italian grape varieties? That overriding savoury quality and texture is just too delicious to pass up.
Stockists: Bottega Tasca, Carlton or online from Oliver’s Taranga
PIKES Premio Sangiovese 2009
Clare Valley, South Australia
Australia is finally witnessing major quality advancements on the local Sangiovese scene as better vineyard sites are selected and imported vine material becomes more sophisticated. In 2009 there were over 200 wine producers of Sangiovese in Australia. Pikes in the Clare Valley was one of these producers, having planted Sangiovese back in 1991. This Premio range is Pikes’ seventh release of Tuscany’s most noble grape variety.
The lovely thing about the Premio range is that it is only released in exceptional vintages. To me, this suggests that it will be a well-made wine with excellent quality and depth. Suffice to say I was not left disappointed with a delicious abundance of black cherry, cola and licorice flavours teasing my palate. It just so happened that I was seated at the table drinking my share when the soothing voices of the Four Tops quartet floated out of my radio speakers singing ‘I Can’t Help Myself’. Before I knew it, the fresh acidity of the Sangiovese grape and that lingering savoury goodness kicked me into gear, and I was shimmying and bopping my away around the lounge room. While this may not be the exact reaction everybody will get when they drink this wine, in the case of my whimsical self, I really just couldn’t help myself.
Stockists: On pour at La Vita Buona, Melbourne or available online through Bottega Tasca, Carlton
FREEMAN Secco Rondinella Corvina 2008
Canberra District, Australian Capital Territory
I never really got on board the Entourage bandwagon, a TV show my brothers never failed to miss. Yet through osmosis, pop culture has seen me adopt Ari Gold’s excessive displays of enthusiasm when something great happens. This particular moment of marvellousness happened when I was sitting alone at the dinner table, took my first sip of this wine, slammed my fist on the table and yelled ‘BOOM!’
Dr Brian Freeman is renowned in Australia as a pioneer for planting the red Corvina and Rondinella grape varieties in the Canberra District back in 1999. The natural home of these grape varieties is the Veneto region in northeastern Italy where they produce the famous everyday drinking Valpolicella wine or the more seriously structured dried grape Amarone wine.
As a result of partially drying these grapes, the wine is called ‘Secco’ (Italian for ‘dry’). This drying technique also creates very fine tannins that weave their way between refreshing acidity, and flavours of sage, red liquorice, sour plums and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet paprika. It is a complex yet undemanding wine suitable for drinking at any time and shines a light on yet another delicious bracket of alternative grape varieties. I just hope my neighbours were able to excuse my quick, loud burst of enthusiasm.
Stockists: On the wine list at The Aylesbury, Melbourne, or try King & Godfree, Carlton