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Five favourite Italian varietal wines


A new wave of Australian wineries are championing Italian varietals, some of which will be showcased at an upcoming National Wine Centre dinner. Head sommelier James Boden recommends five of his favourites.

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Australians have had an affinity with Italian wines since post World War II migration, and with champions of Italian varietals such as Joe Grilli of Primo Estate and Otto Dal Zotto of Dal Zotto, we have some amazing foundations of Italian varietals in Australia.

Gone are the days when Sangiovese was unfamiliar and people were chuffed with themselves when they could pronounce Montepulciano. Now we have the new wave of wineries introducing the seamlessly endless range of Italian varietals that are making their way onto our shores.

2019 Torzi Matthews Prosecco, Barossa Valley, SA

Domenic Torzi makes amazing olives and also has a host of wines which are all delicious. His Prosecco is a classic style using the Charmat method and has pristine green apple notes, bright acidity and firm texture. A go-to Prosecco!

2017 Primo Estate Joseph d’Elena Pinot Grigio, McLaren Vale, SA

The d’Elena Pinot Grigio was one of the first wines I fell in love with. It has trademark apple and pear notes, crunchy acidity and a touch of minerality. A wine for many occasions, it works well with a wide range of food.

2018 Vineyard 28 Arneis Geographe, WA

Vineyard 28 winery is a champion of Italian varietals in Australia and is located in Harvey, on the way to Margaret River from Perth. Arneis, or “Little Racal”, is a fantastic varietal usually grown in Piedmonte in Northern Italy and is well worth exploring. This one has pear and stonefruit notes, and lovely weight. One to have with classic vitello tonnato.

2018 Longview ‘Fresco’ Nebbiolo, Adelaide Hills, SA

Longview has long been growing Nebbiolo in the Adelaide Hills and the Fresco is a good example of a lighter, fresher style that can be drunk while still young (Nebbiolo is usually best drunk with many years under its belt). Enjoy with a mushroom risotto.

2018 Billy Button ‘The Clandestine’ Schioppettino, Alpine Valleys, Vic

Billy Button winemaker Jo Marsh is focussed on introducing new Italian varietals into the Australian landscape. One I hope will be grown more is the rare Schioppettino, meaning “gunshot”, which comes from Friuli near the border of Slovenia. It is a bright grape varietal with lots of pepper and tannin, and is perfect with prosciutto. This is as rare as hen’s teeth, with only a few hundred bottles made each year.

Festa Italiana, on August 14, will be the final event in the National Wine Centre’s European wine dinner series of 2019. It will feature a degustation-style menu of Italian-inspired dishes, accompanied by Italian varietals selected by James Boden. Details here.

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