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Nero, Nero d'Avola and Negroamaro


Whitey finds three Italianate reds that take kindly to some cool chill.

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Surprised by a bout of vicious summer flu right at the time I was about to have a shot for the regular winter marauder, red wine has hardly been foremost on the White brain.

But a few days back, tired of chewing the raw Red Torpedo Onions and chillies in my gloopy Brandy Marys (made with Lucia’s Premium Passata and a dash of carbonated green tea rather than tomato juice), and forgetting in my fever that it was only a nudge under 40C, I poured a glass of J Petrucci & Son McLaren Vale Nero d’Avola 2014 ($30; 14.5% alcohol; screw cap).

It was all simply too bloody hot. So I put the red in the fridge to get it closer to cellar temperature, and made myself another Brandy Mary.

Two days later, I discovered the Nero nearly frozen and wondered how it would look to a bloke like me in a dishevelled state like that.

Most red wines have tannins that don’t take well to chilling: the gentle fruit textures seem to thin out in comparison, leaving a sharp dry edge requiring the sort of cushioning sugars you’ll find in most Lambrusco.

So I was surprised to find the cold Nero was instead full of gentle charcuterie meats and chocolatey fruitcake. Rather than its tannins appearing harsh and abrasive, they retained their lovely velvet.

So I had another before returning to the couch. Delicious!

Next day the kindly Coriole man delivered two reds from what Mark Lloyd and his crew call their New Australian Collection: a Negroamaro and a Nero d’Avola, simply called Nero – Avola is the southern Sicilian town famous for its Nero. When I recalled the success of the chilled Petrucci wine, he suggested the Negroamaro would perform a similar trick.

But first call was the Coriole McLaren Vale Nero 2016 ($25; 14% alcohol; screw cap) while I still had some of the Petrucci Nero. This one oozes a similar fragrance: cozy, comforting, fleshy fruit and fresh pink charcuterie meats in a waft of heady perfume: perhaps a little more polished than the previous. The palate, too, seems more silky than the velvet of the other, perhaps high-lighted by a little extra acidity – it does appear less ripe.

And yep, it’s not so rewarding with a hard chill: a mere 10 minutes’ ice bucket or a dash of fridge is sufficient. Or a small block of ice in each glass. This is one for your antipasto.

The Coriole McLaren Vale Negroamaro 2016 ($25; 13.5% alcohol; screw cap) is paler: like with many Pinots noir and Nebbiolo reds, I can see my fingers through my glass. Its aroma has a pink mortadella gaminess similar to the Petrucci Nero, with a dark glint of leather and coal tar way below: usually a hint at tannins that might not like a chilling. It seems altogether a more rustic tincture than the other two. On the other hand, it does remind me of the bouquet of some of the better dry Lambruscos I’ve had. Its flavours are savoury and sufficiently appetising to pull nearly all my pasta triggers.

Chilled, it works beautifully, but in a very different way to the Petrucci. The cold seems to highlight the wine’s freshness, drawing it into a finer balance than it shows at room temperature, whatever that is.

In summary, the Coriole Negroamaro is the most slender, refreshing wine to drink with a modest chill. The Petrucci Nero d’Avola is a bigger, more soulful and velvety wine to have at similarly low temperatures, maybe lower. And the Coriole Nero is the one for serving at modest cellar temperature, say around 15-17C, with your antipasto.

If you disagree, blame it on the addling influence of my dreaded summer flu.

Best to buy all three and go play somewhere cool, eh?

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