This event with my monthly tasting group had a theme of Italian grape varieties and looking at how they were faring in Australia. Despite a long history of Italian immigration in Australia, Italian grape based wines are relatively uncommon, although this is finally now starting to change.

It was an excellent tasting, and in my opinion the Australian wines tended to hold their own in terms of interest and complexity against the examples in each flight from their native Italy despite differing styles in many cases. I’m looking forward to seeing how Australian producers continue their development with these grapes.


  • NV Furlan Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry – Italy, Veneto, Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene
    Grape, musk, lemon and green apple on the nose. Acid is strong and cleansing on the palate, but there is little depth to it. Simple and refreshing but no more. 85/100

  • 2010 Dal Zotto Prosecco L’Immigrante – Australia, Victoria, North East, King Valley
    Nutty, grapefruit and a touch of florality to the nose. The palate has better fruit power and more interest than the Furlan and still has the cleansing acidity keeping it vibrant. 88/100

Pinot Grigio

  • 2011 Pizzini Pinot Grigio Whitefields – Australia, Victoria, North East, King Valley
    Nettle, light almond and a green edge to the nose. The palate starts off rich but starts fading throughout the mid-palate. Somewhat interesting but I didn’t really enjoy it. 82/100

  • 2011 Primo Estate Pinot Grigio Joseph d’Elena – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Peaches and strong floral aromas, with some green apple and lime. The palate is well balanced, there is a good fruit intensity to it along with some depth and texture. Interesting wine that is drinking well now. 90/100

  • 2010 Kris Pinot Grigio Venezie IGT – Italy, Veneto, Venezie IGT
    Light gold coloured. Floral nose, with banana, pear and pineapple. The palate shows some nice roundness, but there is a touch of alcohol standing out on the finish that is distracting. 86/100

Sangiovese Flight 1

  • 2010 Coriole Sangiovese – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Smoky oak, some citrus and violet aromas. The palate is florally lifted and quite pleasant, with medium length. 88/100

  • 2007 Coriole Sangiovese Reserve – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Earth, dried prunes, graphite and tomato leaf on the nose. The palate fades a little bit at the end, but is otherwise pleasantly savoury with the tannins there but not overbearing. Drink now for my taste. 87/100

  • 1998 Coriole Lloyd Reserve – Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
    Served blind. 76% Sangiovese, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Merlot. A nose of tobacco, leather, mint and violets. The palate is almost fully resolved, but there is still enough structure to hold it together. I guessed that it was about 20 years old, so it is probably best consumed soon based on this bottle. 89/100

Sangiovese Intermission

  • 2001 Penfolds Sangiovese Cellar Reserve – Australia, South Australia, Barossa, Barossa Valley
    Cinnamon, graphite and earth on the nose. Palate has some appealing sweet and juicy red fruits, balanced by integrated acidity. Lovely drinking, at its peak. 90/100

Sangiovese Flight 2

  • 2009 Vinea Marson Sangiovese – Australia, Victoria, Central Victoria, Heathcote
    Graphite & tar with some raspberry and milk chocolate. The palate is red fruit driven, balanced nicely by tannin structure and there is a minerality to it that gives it freshness. 90/100

  • 2006 Castagna Sangiovese La Chiave – Australia, Victoria, North East, Beechworth
    Pepper, black cherry, smoke and olives on the nose. The palate is nicely savoury and there is good depth and length, should drink well over the next 5 years. 91/100

  • 2007 Isole e Olena Cepparello Toscana IGT – Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
    I found the nose on this appealing – mocha, red cherry, vanilla and some liquorice. The palate is very tight and grippy, with prominent but fine tannins. Give it another 4-5 years to open up. 91/100

Nebbiolo Flight 1

  • 2003 Pizzini Nebbiolo – Australia, Victoria, North East, King Valley
    A nose of orange rind and pencil shavings. Medium bodied and has taken on some secondary characters, while not being extremely complex. Drinking well now and should do so for the next couple of years. 88/100

  • 2009 Pizzini Nebbiolo – Australia, Victoria, North East, King Valley
    A pretty nose of violets and roses, with some smoky bacon notes. The palate is vibrant and has good intensity. Youthful but very open and appealing. 89/100

  • 2003 Pizzini Nebbiolo Coronamento – Australia, Victoria, North East, King Valley
    Good complexity on the nose – menthol, smoke, horse hide, liquorice and cedar. The palate is very savoury, with the oak and acidity still evident. Medium length, this was good but not great. 88/100

Nebbiolo Flight 2

  • 2010 Fletcher Nebbiolo – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide Hills
    Cherry and redcurrant, with some earth and graphite on the nose. The palate is red fruit dominant, there are tannins there but the fruit washes over them. Good length and intensity of flavour, this is an interesting wine. 90/100

  • 2010 Fletcher Nebbiolo Malakoff Estate – Australia, Victoria, Western Victoria, Pyrenees
    The nose shows caramelised onion, pine, smoke and autumn leaves. The palate shows a large dose of vanilla oak initially before the fruit and firm tannins takes over. Youthful and could probably benefit from some more time in the bottle. This is a much bigger wine on the palate than the 2010 Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo from Fletcher, but it is equally as interesting. 90/100

  • 2008 Giuseppe Cortese Barbaresco Rabajà – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barbaresco
    Smoky Spanish chorizo, tobacco and red berries on the nose. The palate is intense and mouthfilling, while maintaining structure and focus throughout the mid-palate into the full and long finish. Still primary, this will benefit from another 5-7 years in the bottle. 90/100

Nebbiolo Flight 3

  • 2006 Elio Grasso Barolo Ginestra “Vigna Casa Maté” – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
    Powerful nose of smoke, cherry, tobacco and redcurrant. The palate has superb density and length, and just continued to build and improve with time in the glass. This is a giant wine that is mostly impressive for its potential in 10+ years at this point, but I still enjoyed trying it and hope to see it again in the future. 92/100

  • 2008 S.C. Pannell Nebbiolo – Australia, South Australia, Mount Lofty Ranges, Adelaide Hills
    Tar, cherry and dusty aromas. The palate is medium length and has quite sweet fruit. Nice but not up to the standard in terms of depth, texture and interest of the other two wines in this flight. 87/100

  • 2009 Giaconda Nebbiolo – Australia, Victoria, North East, Beechworth
    I loved the nose on this – rose petals, tar, some brown sugar and red cherries. The palate is delicious – powerful layers of red fruit, acidity and tanning supporting each other into a fantastic long finish. 92/100

Nebbiolo Surprise Flight

  • 1997 Gaja Langhe Nebbiolo Sorì San Lorenzo – Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Langhe DOC
    Complex and beguiling nose of raspberry, blackcurrant, violets, tar, cocoa and tobacco. The palate is superb, it is concentrated but classy and brilliantly balanced simultaneously. This wine is a step up in depth and structure over those that preceded it, and while it was beautiful now I think it will be even better in 6-7 years time. 94/100

Random Extra Wine Flight 1

  • 2007 Warrabilla Durif Reserve – Australia, Victoria, North East, Rutherglen
    Served blind. Glass-straining purple coloured. Massive nose of almonds, raspberry compote, blackberry and tar. The palate matches the intensity of the nose, with huge fruit and intensity. The alcohol is high but it doesn’t actually stand out as the fruit is powerful enough to dominate. It has good length and it is an impressive wine, but not really appealing to me. 88/100

Random Extra Wine Flight 2

  • 1997 Redbank Winery Sally’s Paddock – Australia, Victoria, Western Victoria, Pyrenees
    Served blind. Five spice and spice dominate the nose, there is also some earth and red cherries. The palate is resolved and well balanced, with very good length. It is drinking really well and is near its peak and ready to be consumed. 91/100

  • 1995 Bannockburn Shiraz – Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Geelong
    Served blind. Green nose of stalks, capsicum, tomato leaf and some earthy coffee. The palate is resolved and is better than the nose, but lacks complexity and tapers away slightly short. I thought this was at its peak 7 years ago when I last tasted it, and I think that it is confirmed by this bottle. 83/100


  • 1976 Weingut der Stadt Frankfurt a. Main Hochheimer Domdechaney Riesling Auslese – Germany, Rheingau
    Fantastic nose of honey, ginger and spices, with some floral notes and a background layer of kerosene. The palate has compelling acidity that really lifts the wine and gives it focus through the delicious sweetness. This bottle was at a good drinking point in its life now, but there are no signs that it is falling over in the near future. 93/100


  • NV Stanton & Killeen Rutherglen Topaque – Australia, Victoria, North East, Rutherglen
    Christmas cake, ginger and some honey aromas. The palate has nice richness and decent length without being overly deep or complex. 89/100

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. I’ve tried the Giaconda Nebbiolo too and thought that it was great. The acid layer is so well-balanced with the other components..

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