I always enjoy the opportunity to attend the annual Chef of the Year Dinner of the Wine & Food Society of New South Wales. Not only does the evening showcase the food of last year’s Chef of the Year but, as might be expected, a lot of thought goes into matching the food with the wine.

One of the most interesting pairings was the filet de porc a la creme de sauge with a 2002 Damillano Barolo and a 2007 S. C. Pannell Nebbiolo. The deliciously succulent roasted pork fillets in a light sage flavoured cream sauce worked beautifully with the nebbiolo offerings. But while the Damillano displayed some nice savoury notes and had more body than its pale colour would have suggested, the aromatic and delicately fruit-flavoured S.C. Pannell Nebbiolo 2007 was the winning wine of the pair.

Granted, the 2002 vintage was a shocker in Piedmont – the Northern Italian home of Barolo. Rain and hail decimated the crops and many of the top producers made no wine at all that year. No surprise then that the S.C. Pannell Nebbiolo stood out in comparison, although I’m sure this elegant, medium bodied nebbiolo would also look good against more worthy counterparts. In fact, British wine critic Matthew Jukes offered the following assessment of how the wine fared in another taste test: “Served blind, against three top Barolos and another extremely expensive rival Aussie Nebbiolo, this wine trounced the lot of them with its devastating truffle and blackberrry aromas and finely judged, refreshing tannins.” (S.C. Pannell website)

The 2007 vintage is Steve Pannell’s third release of the wine. It is a blend of five different clones from Gumeracha in the Adelaide Hills. It was hand harvested, crushed and vinified for 20 days in small open top fermenters, with no additions other than yeast added for fermentation. The wine was pressed and aged in large old oak barrels for 24 months before bottling.

The wine already has a string of notable awards under its belt. It took out three trophies at the Alternative Wine Show in Mildura in 2010: Best Italian varietal, Best Red Wine and Best Wine of the Show.

The firm, dry tannins will soften with age and with careful cellaring, the wine will continue to evolve over the next 7 to 10 years. Based on the success of the S.C. Pannell Nebbiolo 2007 , the future looks bright for Australian nebbiolo!