Italian Varieties in Australia Tasting @ Mezzo Restaurant 28/07/12

The awesome spread of food they put on was worth the effort!
The place to be on this cold afternoon.

Having done quite a focus on Italian wines over the last few months, I thought it was time to bring it closer to home and show some Australian interpretations of Italian varieties. Teaming up with Silvio at Mezzo Restaurant we selected seven wines from interesting Australian producers making excellent examples of Italian varietals. The team at Mezzo put on a spectacular spread of food and so all we needed is some willing participants! On a cold and rainy Melbourne afternoon we were warm inside Mezzo munching on amazing wild boar ragu, mussells, arancini and salmon tartare and sipping on some Australian wine gems.
You can see the notes I made for the tasting and if you are keen the order form is here.

Interesting Australian Wines
The challenge for those who attended.

Three whites and four reds was the assignment. We started off with a new wine from the Chalmers Heathcote Vineyard Montevecchio Bianco 2011. A field blend of Vermentino, Fiano and Moscato Giallo this wine was crisp, clean and dry with nice amount of yellow fruits, floral notes, grapiness and citrus. Perfect for uncomplicated but satisfying drinking. Next up was Mac Forbes Arneis 2010. From the Yarra Valley, this Arneis showed all the hallmarks of great examples of the style; lovely aromatics, textural mouthfeel and clean finishing. It was very hard to have just one glass of this wine (luckily I got to take home the ‘dregs’). The final white was the Freeman Fortuna Pinot Gris Plus 2010 a wine that manages to straddle the rich and textural side of Gris while avoiding oily/cloying characters. Melons, grapes, fleshy stone fruits and a nice hint of spice. The addition of small amounts of Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Aleatico seem to be a masterstroke!

After more than 10 years I still get nervous at these things.
Me (Phil) setting up. So much romantic screwcap crackle!

While the whites were well received the red bracket was definitely the favourite of those who attended. We tasted Montevecchio Rosso 2011, also from Chalmers’ Heathcote vineyard this was a field blend, containing Shiraz (yes there is some Shiraz in Italy), Lagrein, Nero d’Avola and Sagrantino. It was spicy, red fruited, mid weight and a hint savoury. Nice easy drinking and really showed well for the price. Staying  in Heathcote we tasted Greenstone Rosso di Colbo Sangiovese 2011. The Greenstone story is fascinating to hear but the wines are just delicious! This is their entry level Sangio and it had all of the cherry, earthy and hint of meat and oak characters with the clean and dry elements celebrated in Chianti. This is an excellent wine! Building up in weight we went to Freeman Secco 2008, made in the style of Valpolicella and Amarone this uses Rondinella and Corvina grapes that are run through a prune dehydrator to concentrate the flavours (Amarone use an air drying process to achieve a similar result). There was plenty of red and blue fruits, a full weight in the mouth but a nice freshness and great balance with the acid and tannin elements and a dry finish. Finally we had a variety that I think has a lot of potential for Australia Beach Road Aglianico 2010. Beach Rd make a great range of Italian varieties from Langhorne Creek and McLaren Vale, This is one of their best (in my opinion). I’ve recently been getting excited by Aglianico and this offers a lot of their big red and black fruit, leather notes, spice and a herbal edge. Nice palate length and very drinkable.

This is one of the most interesting tasting I’ve hosted as all these wines were so different from what we normally taste in Australia. There was almost a dead heat between the last three reds for most popular wine with Mac Forbes Arneis following close behind. Thanks to those that came out and hopefully we can top this tasting next month.

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