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Wine

Know Your Variety - Montepulciano

Adam Walls cuts through the confusion about Montepulciano, the dark, brooding Italian Red wine that’s going great guns in Australia

Besides being tricky to pronounce, Montepulciano is one of the more complicated grapes. You see, there's an Italian town called Montepulciano, which produces a wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. But, this wine is mostly made from Sangiovese, and doesn't actually include any of the Montepulciano grape!

A Quick Guide to Montepulciano

Montepulciano Australian Infographic

The most famous examples of Montepulciano (the actual wine) come from the Italian region of Abruzzo, but it's planted throughout much of central and southern Italy, but nowhere near the town of the same name.

Thankfully, as a grape grown in Australia, it's much more straightforward and in true Aussie style, we've taken away the pronunciation problem by shortening it to 'Monte'.

In its very short lifespan here in Australia, Monte is starting to win international acclaim. Last year, at the International Wine Competition in London, for the first time, Gold medals were given to Montes outside of Italy and they were won by two Australian wines - Bird in Hand and Mr Riggs.

Origins

Montepulciano wine origins in Abruzzo Italy

As I mentioned, Montepulciano is most famously made under the DOC of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo . A producer called Aziendo Agricola Valentini produces Italy's most renowned expression - it's like the Penfolds Grange of Monte - having taken it from a quaffing red to a serious, thrilling wine.

Australian Montepulciano Regions

Monte has had success in our warmer and cooler climates, possibly because it's a relatively late ripening variety. Also, like Shiraz, it's hardy, disease-resistant and can handle the heat and the cold. Look out for examples from Adelaide Hills Barossa Valley and Riverland .

Montepulciano Tasting Notes

Monte's appeal lies in its beautifully generous fruit, including red plum, sour cherry and boysenberry, and moderate acidity, so I reckon if you love Australian Shiraz , you'll love Monte, too.

Food Matching

The general fruit intensity and richness of Monte mean that it's a natural match to an array of rich and intensely flavoured dishes. Some of my favourites include Guy Grossi's pappardelle with spiced veal ragu recipe,  braised beef shin and pepperoni pizza. Explore our great range of recipes here .

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Know Your Varietal - Arneis
Words by Adam Walls on 7 Sep 2017
Adam Walls reveals how Arneis,  Italy’s ‘little rascal’ is proving a hit in Australia thanks to its rich appeal. Crisp and floral, Arneis is a white that Italian winemakers often blend with Nebbiolo to add a touch of sweetness and perfume. In Australia, it’s proving tough to grow due to the fact that it’s low-cropping and susceptible to many vineyard diseases. However, it’s certainly an emerging hit. Arneis - an Infographic Guide Origins
Arneis hails from the North Western Italian region of Piedmont where it is most famously associated with the white wines of Roero. The fact that Roero sits across the river from the famous Barolo means that Arneis has earned the nickname of Barolo Bianco (white Barolo). It is also thought that the variety’s name is derived from a Piedmontese word meaning “little rascal”. This is due to the fact that the grapes are hard to grow as Arneis is a low cropping variety and is susceptible to mildew. Did you know? Arneis vines were sometimes planted next to Nebbiolo vines, but largely as a form of protection – the Arneis grapes’ stronger fragrance distracted hungry birds and insects away from the more highly prized Nebbiolo. Australian Arneis In Italy, Piedmont is a cool region with lots of hills, so it makes perfect sense that the most successful regions in Australia for Arneis are cooler with many having rolling hills like South Australia’s Adelaide Hills , Victoria’s King Valley , Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley , and the NSW Southern Highlands . Arneis from a cool climate region gives good balance between fruit and acidity. In warm vintages, Arneis shows lower acidity and a more powerful fruit profile. Arneis Tasting Notes Arneis produces very fragrant wines with notes of pear and apple. The elegance of the aroma hides the fact that the wines are medium to full bodied with pear, apple, stone fruit and nutty notes. With its rich flavour profile, Arneis will appeal to anyone who loves fruit-driven Chardonnay or Verdelho. Food matching
Given its soft acidity and texture, Arneis pairs well with lighter food flavours. Try seafood pasta, salads with creamy sauces and shellfish. Recommended Recipes : Blue swimmer crab spaghettini with lemon and chive sauce garlic pangrattato recipe Prosciutto with seared coffin bay scallops, globe artichokes and truffle recipe Explore our great range of recipes
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Rosé revealed – how is it made?
The time is ripe for Rosé – spring afternoons and evenings are perfect for relishing the refreshing, savoury characters of fabulous Australian drops. But, as you sit back and sip its deliciousness, do you ever wonder exactly how Rosé is made? Up until a few years ago, Australian winemakers made Rosé as an afterthought, says Tasting Panellist Adam Walls . “Whereas now, the wines are being made deliberately, with designated parcels of fruit that have been picked specifically to be turned into Rosé.”  As Hunter Valley winemaker Mike De Iuliis explains, “There are two distinct keys to making quality Rosé. First is the variety that is being used, and second is timing of harvest.” There are many different styles of wine and as Mike describes, “Rosé is quite a personalised wine and at De Iuliis, we are looking to produce a style that is bright, fresh and vibrant. We also try to produce a drier, more savoury style that is built around texture and acidity rather than sugar and fruit.”  So, how is Rosé made? The Maceration Method Just like red wine, Rosés pick up their colour from the skin of red wine grapes. The winemaker can determine the depth of colour in the wine by deciding how long to leave the juice in contact with the skins, typically anywhere from 2 to 24 hours – the shorter the time, the lighter the colour. The amount of time a winemaker leaves the juice in contact with the skins, Hunter Valley winemaker Mike De Iuliis explains: 

“It depends on the variety you're using. With our special release Rosé, which is made from Grenache, the fruit is harvested by machine and then transported to the Hunter Valley (from the Hilltops). This time on skin is about long enough (approx. 8-12 hours), to pick up the colour that we like and also the flavour profile that we are looking for.”

- Mike De Iuliis, De Iuliis Wines - Hunter Valley
There are different techniques used for this process, including the maceration method, which allows the crushed skins of the red wine grapes to ‘steep’, or macerate, in the juice for a short period of time, before the skins are removed and the entire tank is finished into a Rosé wine.  The Saignée Method Another method is called the Saignée (‘san-yay’), or the ‘bleed’ method. This involves ‘bleeding off’ a portion of the juice – while the remaining goes on to make red wine – into a separate vat to finish fermentation. This technique can result in some really lovely examples. Saignée expert Andrew Margan is a strong proponant of this style:

When making rose using this method we soak the unfermented grape juice on its skins for about 48 hours and allow the juice to soak some colour and flavour out of the skins before we run just 10 % of that juice off into another tank and add yeast to ferment it like a white wine. Cold fermentation ensures that the fruit flavours and aromas are conserved in the finished wine.The key is to make sure you drain off the juice at the right time. Because we have much softer tannins here in the Hunter and we obtain ripeness of flavour at lower alcohols we can make a saignee style rose that does not require any residual sugar and has enough richness of flavour without being too high in alcohol to make a dry rich Rosé

- Andrew Margan, Margan Wines
Blending: Another way to make Rosé is by mixing white and red wine together, although, this rather crude method is generally frowned upon and doesn’t usually make for a very nice tasting wine.  Colour and Characters: The colour of Rosé can range from the lightest shades of pale onion skin pink to salmon, coral, hot pink, and ruby red; generally speaking, the darker the colour, the more intense and sweeter the wine. Primary fragrances and flavours of Rosé depend on the type of grape, or grapes, used, but will typically sit along the spectrum of red fruits and florals, melons and zesty citrus. Sometimes, you’ll find pleasant green characters, like rhubarb or strawberries with their leafy green tops still on.  What varieties are used to make Rosé?
Rosé can be made from just about any red wine grape variety there is. In Australia, the more common varietals used to make Rosé include  Shiraz ,  Pinot Noir , and Grenache . But also,  Merlot  and  Cabernet Sauvignon . In Provence, the historical home of Rosé, winemakers will blend grape varieties, such as Cinsault, Mourvédre, Syrah (Shiraz), and Carignan, to create gorgeous examples of this pale pink wine. Now you know how it’s made, it’s time to drink to Rosé’s pink perfection and fill your spring with some delicious drops.  
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