Category Archives: Australian Sangioves

Mar 03 2016

Huon Hooke Italian Masterclass: Italian Varieties flourish in Australia

Posted on March 03, 2016 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Over the past decade Australian wine producers have planted a wide range of Italian varieties, reaching well beyond well-known favourites like Pinot Grigio and Sangiovese to more esoteric grapes like Lagrein, Barbera and Dolcetto.

Huon Hooke’s recent Italian Masterclass at Prince Wine Store offered an excellent opportunity to compare Italian varieties made by Australian producers with imported Italian wines of the same varieties.

Dolcetto, a dark-skinned grape from the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy, was actually first planted in Australia in the 1860s by Best’s Great Western founder Henry Best. Even today the winery is unsure why Henry chose to devote about 25 per cent of his entire vineyard to this lesser known variety!

The refreshing, easy drinking Best’s Great Western Dolcetto, Grampians 2012  ($30) was made from grapes from both the original 1860s plantings and 1971 plantings of cuttings from Henry’s original wines. Its plum and berry fruit flavours were far more pronounced than the savoury Azelia Dolcetto d’Alba DOC “Bricco dell ‘Oriolo” 2013 ($34) – an impressive single vineyard wine from the Alba area of Piedmont.

Given Australia’s propensity to produce fruit-forward wines, Australia winemakers are experimenting with different winemaking techniques to bring out the more subtle, complex characters traditionally associated with Italian red varieties.

At the tasting  Joel Pizzini, winemaker at King Valley’s Pizzini Wines, was on hand to talk about the winery’s acclaimed single vineyard Sangiovese, the 2013 Pizzini Forza di Ferro Sangiovese. He explained that he exposes the grapes for this wine to a hotter than normal fermentation in order release more of their complex savoury aromas and flavours.

Forza di Ferro is Italian for ‘strength from iron,’ a reference to the iron rich soils of this special vineyard. Over the past 25 years, the winery has spent a considerable amount of time mapping out the geology of its vineyards and developing its own classification system for its extensive Sangiovese vineyards. With wonderful aromas of spice, berries and leather and a complex and generous palate of plums and cherries framed by silky textured tannins,.. [Read More]

Aug 08 2013

Australia’s Top 10 Sangiovese Wines

Posted on August 08, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

‘Top 10’ lists are typically controversial, and especially more so for varietals that are still in the process of becoming established in the wine market. You won’t find Australian sangiovese on Langton’s most recent 2010 Classification of Australian Wine, for example, because it simply doesn’t have a well-established track record of demand at auction. But the wines listed below would certainly meet Langton’s other exacting criteria for consideration: a reputation for authenticity, consistency and provenance.

Most of the sangioveses on this list are made by boutique wineries whose winemakers are passionate about Italian varietals… [Read More]

Jul 07 2013

Australia’s Love Affair with Sangiovese

Posted on July 07, 2013 | By merrill@cellarit.com

One of the guests told me over a dinner hosted by Pizzini Wines at Signorelli Gastronomia in Sydney that he had collected over 100 different sangiovese wines. I said that his collection must be rich with Italian examples to which he replied that all of his sangioveses were Australian. I was gobsmacked, having no idea that so many Australian wineries made sangiovese. Anyway, the discussion has led to be a bit of detective work on my part to learn more about why this so-called ‘alternative’.. [Read More]

Jun 06 2011

Australian Sangiovese: A Quiet Achiever!

Posted on June 06, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Over the weekend my husband and I enjoyed a bottle of Quartetto Sangiovese 2000. I use the word ‘enjoy’ with an element of surprise, because we had pretty low expectations for this 11 year old bottle from the Clare Valley. Although fairly light in colour, it still had an earthy fruit character, a bit of acidity, some tannins and the familiar savoury and restrained spice notes that are the hallmarks of Italian Chianti. It went really well with spaghetti bolognese on a cold winter’s night!

Quite a few Australian wineries make a sangiovese and a few,.. [Read More]