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A brace of pale Italians from the Young Hilltops


Whitey discovers two tasty whites that would go just nicely with some crunchy almond biscotti or Haigh's ginger chocolates.

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A prominent forerunner of today’s nationwide trend to Italian varieties and wine types, Professor Brian Freeman quit his wine science post at Charles Sturt University to plant an adventurous but cleverly planned vineyard up in the Hilltops region between Young and Wombat in New South Wales. More than most pioneers, Freeman carefully chose his terroir for its capacity to produce the wine types he’d found and loved in north-east Italy.

I’ve kept a steady admiring eye on the lovely Freeman reds for some years; it’s good now to have two smart whites to relish.

First, the Freeman Prosecco 2016 ($23; 11.5% alcohol; cork) is from two clones of this Veneto sparkling variety planted in 2011 at 560 cool metres in the Pinnacle Block of the Altura Vineyard.

If this wine’s pretty pale straw meadow aromas and delicate waft of honeydew melon oozed from a flute of the sparkling wine made in that part of France they call Champagne you’d be happily paying at least three times this price, so that’s a dollop more incentive if this fetching bouquet doesn’t suck you in far enough.

It’s a husky, freckled sort of a blonde. In keeping with that, the wine has a gentle pale flesh, inbuilt deliberately by fermenting half the assemblage in barrels and keeping that wine on yeast lees for regular stirring. So you get comforting texture made more reassuring with a barely-detectable sweetness, delivered in a slightly prickly, petillant fizz that dances right bonnie to a bagatelle of crunchy almond biscotti. I imagine my Ferrari ticking impatiently outside when I drink this.

A smart follow-up is the sweet, botrytis-riddled Freeman Dolcino 2015 ($25, 11% alcohol; screw cap), which the Prof urges is best had before or between meals, with some serious duck liver paté or a terrine. Made from Viognier deliberately unpruned to encourage botrytis strike, it has a prickle all its own in that alluring pickled ginger fragrance.

It’s fluffy of texture, but that cushion, with its appropriate sweetness, is neatly offset by considerable high-country acidity. So sure, take it with your afternoon paté on toast, even with contrasting crudités or giardiniera, or try it for elevenses with Haigh’s ginger chocolates.

It’s that time of year …

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