Category Archives: Amarone

Feb 02 2015

Hilltop’s Freeman Secco Rondinella Corvina: The Rewards of Experimentation

Posted on February 02, 2015 | By

NSW is back on the map as one of Australia’s best wine regions. Not long ago the Hunter Valley held the mantle as the state’s key region for making high qualities wines. But today the creativity and talent of mainly smaller producers have put 16 wine regions firmly on the radar of wine critics and consumers alike.

In a recent article on “the NSW wine all-stars,” the SMH’s wine critic Huon Hooke noted how successful NSW winemakers have been in experimenting with new wine styles. Many have also forged reputations through focusing on alternatives to the traditional French varieties. New England’s highly regarded Topper’s Mountain, for example, makes both a gewurztraminer and a nebbiolo. (The NSW wine all-stars by Huon Hooke, Goodfood, 3 February 2015)



Freeman_Secco_2009_RGBIn the Hilltops region, which is to the northwest of the Canberra District, Freeman Vineyards has secured wide acclaim for its Freeman Secco Rondinella Corvina. The 2004 vintage received the trophy for the “Best Mature Dry Red ” at both the 2009 and 2011 NSW Wine Awards.

Rondinella and corvina are the two main varieties used to produce northern Italy’s Amarone and Valpolicella wines. Freeman Vineyards’ winemaker Dr Brian Freeman, a former Professor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University, secured just six cuttings of rondinella and corvina from CSIRO’s grape breeding collection when he established Freeman Vineyards in 1999. The Freeman Secco Rondinella Corvina was first released in 2002.

Only a small portion of the grapes in the Secco are dried, but enough to give the wine the rich, sensual qualities that are characteristic of great Amarone.

Freeman has access to a neighbour’s solar-power prune dehydrator, where the grapes layered on racks and gently heated in air tunnels at 40 degrees for up to 10 days. The dried … Read the rest

Apr 04 2011

Hobbs Shiraz Gregor: An Australian Take on a Famous Italian Wine Style

Posted on April 04, 2011 | By

Over the past few months, I’ve talked quite a bit about how Australian winemakers are increasingly working with alternative or less well-known grape varieties, such as tempranillo, viognier and chenin blanc. But perhaps less evident to consumers is the number of wineries that have adopted non-conventional wine styles. Interestingly, Hobbs, the artisan Barossa Ranges winery, has embraced with great success the challenges of employing alternative winemaking styles on typical ‘Australian’ varieties like shiraz!

Hobbs of Barossa Ranges is owned by Greg and Allison Hobbs. They have 15 acres of  vineyards, which are home to some of the Barossa’s oldest shiraz.  Nestled in the cool, beautiful Barossa Ranges, where the elevation, climate and ancient decomposed clay soils, allow for the slow ripening of the fruit, the vineyards are dry-grown, biodynamically farmed, hand-pruned and hand-picked.

The Hobbs vineyards are contiguous with Chris Ringland’s famed Chris Ringland Shiraz vineyards (formerly Chris Ringland’s Three Rivers). Ringland acts as a consultant winemaker, working with Pete Schell from Spinifex Wines, who makes the wines for Hobbs. Previously Schell was the head winemaker at Turkey Flat before starting Spinifex in 2001.

Little wonder then that this enviable combination of wine growing and winemaking skills has helped Hobbs attain critical acclaim and a strong following for its small range (only seven different wines) of very limited production wines – typically 250 or less dozens of each.

Hobbs makes a very highly rated old vine shiraz and shiraz viognier, but it is the Amarone-style Hobbs Shiraz Gregor that represents a new direction in the style of Australian shiraz.

Amarone della Valpolicella is the rich, heady red from the Valpocella region near Veneto in northern Italy. Typically it is made with the corvina grapes, a variety unique to the region, and sometimes rondinella and molinara grapes are … Read the rest