Whitey finds himself preferring a savage Sicilian from the forests on the South Para above a half-posh Nebbiolo from Italy’s Piedmont, but admits the comparison’s a little unfair …
Fox Gordon The Sicilian Adelaide Hills Nero D’Avola 2012
$25; 14% alcohol; screw cap; 94 points
Here’s a confronting bastard of a drink. First sniff’s as raw and brutal as Russell Crowe’s Hando in Romper Stomper, mainly because you probably haven’t smelled anything quite like it before. Give yourself a coupla acclimatisers, and Hando transforms into East Driscoll, Rusty’s horse-training character in Hammers Over The Anvil, eyeing off the ravishing Charlotte Rampling in the stable and riding horses naked in the dam. You want vegetal reflections? Think fresh lightning in the pines: all those split trunks and singed needles. Think soft licorice, prunes, dried apple and kalamata. But that’s nowhere near portraying its intense angular palate, its brash, raw edginess. While you’re hoping it puts down the gun before its nerves squeeze the trigger, you’ll have a flash of regret that you didn’t already drink lots of it with someone you shouldna been seen with. This is a stunning explosion of a wine from the canny Tash Mooney, using fruit from Caj Amadio’s front-running vineyard on the cool banks of the South Para Reservoir … alarming in its savage beauty: drink it before it shaves.
Bernadina Ceretto Nebbiolo D’Alba 2011
$50; 14.5% alcohol; cork; 92+ points
Nebbiolo from Alba is considered by wine trade people with haircuts to be what they call “entry-level” nursery wine for those newcomers with dangerous Barolo aspirations; ie drinking above their station. This nasty dark thing has not quite the finesse of the finer Barolos, but it’s a damn fine borderline posh drink, especially when stood against a savage brute like that Nero D’Avola. When the man comes with the leather gloves and the shotgun to punish me for daring to make the comparison he’ll be from Alba, not Sicily, if you get my drift. Apart from having darker, more licorice fruit than the more Pinot-like raspberry I like in Barolo, this one’s got a pretty hint of meadow flowers and musk, and tannins that seem a little more conventional. I love the way really good Nebbiolo carries its tannin like a cloud hovering above the wine; it’s the opposite of, say, Shiraz, where the tannin is in the gearbox and the chassis and it occupies all the territory in the bottom of your mouth. Well, this Bernadina has tannins that are about halfway between those extremes, which reinforces my allegations of convention. But don’t be put off. This is a wine for apprentice Sopranos and serious beef.
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