Meet the winemaker

Q&A: Italian whites in Australia

By Halliday Wine Companion for La Prova, Tar & Roses, La La Land and Zonte’s Footstep

22 Feb, 2019

We ask the people who work with wine how Italian whites fit into the Australian landscape, and why they’re worth seeking out.

Winemaker Sam Scott of La Prova

Sam Scott at La Prova

Q: Why are Italian whites worth trying?

A: They are delicious for one. The textural, savoury and often rustic shape of Italian varieties make them great with food, and they are ideally suited to the Australian lifestyle. They also grow exceptionally well in our evolving (think warmer and drier) climate, so they are a vital part of our grape-growing future.

Q: Is there an Italian white grape in particular that excites you?

A: Fiano, an ancient variety originating in Campania, is relatively new to Australia. Finding the  best Italian white variety, vineyard site and grower match has been a process, but we’ve found that from fiano, the Kersbrook vineyard and the Amadio family. We treat the fruit with great care in the vineyard, and in the winery, we’ve found some synergy between wild ferment in old oak for texture and cool fermentation in tank for fruit and vitality.

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Winemaker Aidan Menzies at La La Land

Aidan Menzies at La La Land

Q: What Italian whites have you found work well in the Australian environment?

A: Vermentino hails from the Italian island of Sardinia, but it’s also well suited to the warm and dry climate of north-west Victoria – a region increasingly recognised for producing quality wines from Mediterranean grapes. An aromatic, medium-bodied white wine best known for its fresh flavours and minerality, it’s dry, textural and very gluggable.

Q: What’s the appeal of Italian whites?

A: Italian white varieties like vermentino are a great alternative to traditional styles for those wanting to expand their drinking choices. They’re flavoursome and perfect for warm-weather drinking, especially alongside anything seafood.

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Vigneron Brad Rey of Zonte's Footstep

Brad Rey at Zonte’s Footstep
pictured above with Anna Fisher)

Q: Why are Italian whites worth seeking out?

A: They are extremely food-friendly. With pinot grigio, which is one of our focuses, we find it can pair with a range of dishes – from smoked Tasmanian salmon to tomato and mozzarella salad and even fettuccini Alfredo.

Q: What’s your approach to Italian whites?

A: We prefer to produce fresh, zesty, crunchy styles of wine such as those found in Collio, Italy. The cooler climate of our vineyard in the Adelaide Hills is ideal for this approach.

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Winemaker Narelle King at Tar & Roses

Narelle King at Tar & Roses

Q: Why are Italian whites worth considering?

A: The foundations of Italian culture are food, wine and family, so there is a real purpose behind both creating and enjoying Italian varieties. They’re made for sharing with loved ones over a meal.

Q: What’s you goal with Italian varieties?

A: We’ve always had a love for and focus on Italian styles – even the name Tar & Roses stems from the characteristics of a nebbiolo. We make a sangiovese, pinot grigio and soon we’ll be launching a prosecco too. The aim is pure varietal expression, so for us, it’s mostly about taking what Mother Nature gives you in the vineyard and putting that into the bottle.

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This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with La Prova, Tar & Roses, La La Land and Zonte’s Footstep.