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Italian dreams are made of this


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Whitey finds two perfumed beauties – a Pino grigio from Trentham and a Chardonnay from Margaret River – that want to take him to Italy.

Trentham Estate River Retreat Pinot Grigio 2013
$15; 12.5% alcohol; screw cap; 85 points

The Murphy family’s Trentham blew the ol’ drinkster’s mind last year with Australia’s first Verdejo.  Now they do it with the grey (grigio; gris) Pinot.  Which I would normally regard as impossible.  As the grey Pinot is simply a mutant clone of the ordinary (black) Pinot noir, I maintain it’s silly to grow it anywhere that’s unsuited to growing black Pinot, which evolved where it snows in what George W Bush rather quaintly called Old Yurp.  This would preclude Australia’s arid inland: there’s not been much snow lately at Trentham, which is near Mildura.

But here we have a pretty, gently perfumed wine of some finesse at a bone-arse price – I’ve listed the recommended retail, but I’ve seen it about $5 cheaper. Which is, bluntly, ridiculous. It smells and feels a little oily, a bit like a neutral dry muscat-family grape, but this serves simply to add some cuddle to its mild acidity.

It’s perfect for spaghetti alle vongole rosso. I’d give this southern Italian version of the brilliant cockle dish, with its tomato and basil, a squirt of lemon and a little chilli to best accompany such an encouraging bargain from the otherwise tortured Murraylands. Rock’n’roll.

Forester Estate Margaret River Chardonnay 2012
$38; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap; 93++ points

Forester has long been a solid provider of high-quality Margaret River wine at prices much more modest than many of their snooty neighbours. This racy Chardonnay is not among its cheapest offerings, but others would charge much more for one of this class.

It’s not fat like the old dead Rosemounts that made people reach for the lemon juice, nor is it lean and skinny like the current cheapo Chablis that the somms of Sydney are rubbing on gullets with great success. Rather, this is a distinguished and accomplished wine of modest form.

Grown on 34 year-old Mendoza clone vines (a Casa Blanco favourite), and made using techniques that fit neatly between those Rosemount (woody; jammy) and Chablis (steely; lean) extremes, it’s a lovely thing from first sniff to its last lingering ooze. It has that languid, come-hither, slightly fatty air of grilled cashews, fitting neatly with its flashy vanillinoids, which are almost on the jackfruit level. These characters give the wine its lovely vanilla crême texture, which is comforting and reassuring.

Its flavour is somewhere in the realm of soft nougat and citrus rind; its finish long, gentle and appetising. It makes me yearn for an Amalfi saltimbocca, or the char-grilled garfish at that same wonderful sanctum.

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