wa2.gif (4241 bytes)

abut9.gif (3095 bytes)

abut12.gif (3207 bytes)
abut10.gif (3636 bytes)

abut11.gif (4039 bytes)


Italian grape varieties, Aussie style

Italy has a wealth of indigenous grape varieties, which on home soil make profound, exciting wines. Itís not surprising, then, that new world countries have taken these varieties Ė such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera Ė and have tried to adapt them to their conditions. The trouble is, they donít seem to travel well. The Italian ex-pats in California were the first to try their best, and made only averagely good wines where they might have expected better. So how have the Australians fared? I tried a range of Aussie interpretations of some Italian varieties, and here are the results. Overall, I was a bit disappointed. How come varieties that do so well in Italy make somewhat unexciting wines in Australia? Is it just the climate, or does it have something to do with the relative inexperience of the Aussies with these grapes? Garry Crittendonís Ďií series is sort of getting it right (I'll be reviewing his entire range soon), but across the board thereís some room for improvement.

A grape from Piedmont in northwest Italy

Garry Crittendon King Valley Ďií Barbera 2000, Victoria
Vivid purple colour. Lovely tight spicy nose with intense cherry and berry fruit, together with some spicy oak. The palate shows savoury spicy berry fruit: very pure but with good tannins and acidity holding it in balance. A really tasty, intense wine. Very good/excellent (£8.99 Robersons, House of Townend, Waitrose)

Meerea Park Orange Orchard Barbera 2001, Hunter Valley
Sweet spicy, slightly liquoricey fruit on the nose. The vivid, juicy palate has real contrast between the sweet berry fruit and the striking acidity that sticks out a bit. Unusual. Very good (Liberty Wines £12.99)

Brown Bros King Valley Barbera 2000, Victoria
Spicy cherry fruit nose is a little muted. Midweight juicy, savoury palate with a touch of spice from the oak. Good commercial style. Very good (£6.99 Morrisons, Londis, EH Booth, Cost Cutter)

Tuscan grape of Chianti fame

Step Road Sangiovese 2001, Langhorne Creek, South Australia
Sweet fruit on the nose. Palate is vivid with high acidity and some savoury oak. A little disappointing. Very good/excellent (£6.99 Waitrose, Stratfordís Wine Agencies)

Garry Critendon King Valley Ďií Sangiovese 2000, Victoria
Relatively pale in colour. Savoury spicy nose. Palate shows spicy berry fruit with juicy acidity. Appealing, but lacks something. Very good (£8.99 House of Townend, Harbour Wines, Larners of Hoult)

Chain of Ponds Adelaide Hills Jupiterís Blood Sangiovese 2000, South Australia
Coca-cola-edged cherry fruit nose. Midweight spicy palate with good acidity. Appealing if a bit simple. Very good (£9.99 Bibendum)

Mount Langhi Ghiran Grampians Nut Block Sangiovese 2000, Victoria
Shy nose. Vivid juicy savoury spicy palate. Medium weight. Appealing, but a bit simple. Very good (£11.99 Harvey Nichols, La Reserve, Villeneuve Wines)

The noble Piedmontese grape that's responsible for Barolo and Barbaresco

Trentham Estate Murray-Darling Nebbiolo 2001
Quite light in colour. Lovely gamey, savoury edge to the nose with some sweet spicy notes. The palate is spicy and savoury, showing real varietal character. Midweight but complex, with some herbal notes. Very good/excellent (£7.75 Hedley Wright, Noel Young, Seckford)

Brown Brothers King Valley Nebbiolo 1998, Victoria
Faded colour with a brown rim. Assertive spicy, earthy nose is quite old fashioned. Palate is chewy and chunky with spicy oak mingling with savoury, earthy, leathery fruit. Impressive stuff. Very good+ (£8.99 contact meowens@brownbroswines.co.uk)

Rutherglen Estates Nebbiolo 2002, Victoria
(Tank sample) Fermented for a week with French oak chips, and then Ďrestedí on French oak blocks. Sweet ginger and herb notes on the nose. The palate shows spicy, herby, ginger-laced fruit. Very unusual, in a savoury style. Iím not too sure about the ginger character, which is a bit off-putting. Good (£7.99 Waitrose)

Back to top