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Wine

Seven New Wines to Explore this Spring

Celebrate the arrival of spring and explore a whole new world of wine with some exciting alternative varietals guaranteed to become firm new favourites.

To take the guess work out of what you think you might or might not enjoy, the Tasting Panel has selected seven favourite main-stream varietals our Members love and suggested a new alternative varietal that is similar.

Chardonnay + Roussanne, Sauvignon Blanc + Vermentino, Pinot G + Arneis, Riesling + Gruner Veltliner, Shiraz + Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon + Durif, and Pinot Noir + Nero d’Avola.

Favourites you love + new finds to enjoy

1. Roussanne

"Wonderfully aromatic, Roussanne delivers all the stonefruit and honeysuckle characters that Chardonnay drinkers can’t resist,” says Tasting Panellist, Dave Mavor.

Roussanne hails from the Northern Rhône and its name comes from ‘roux’, French for ‘russet’, which describes the reddish-gold colour of its skin when ripe.

It thrives in moderate to warm climates such as Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Rutherglen.

Its rich texture makes it ideal with creamy sauces – roasted poultry, shellfish with cream sauce, pork dishes.

Discover the delights of Roussanne for free with each Chardonnay Charm Dozen

2. Vermentino 

Sauvignon Blanc fans will love how Vermentino is just as mouth-watering and full of citrus flavours,” says Tasting Panellist, Nicole Gow. Find out more about the variety with Nicole's Vermentino guide here.

Most famously grown on the Italian island of Sardinia, it makes perfect sense that Vermentino suits Australia’s warm climate, especially that of McLaren Vale. Styles range from light and fresh to rich and textural.

It thrives in cool to warm climates giving different characteristics. Grown increasingly in Australia, most notably in King Valley, McLaren Vale and the Hunter Valley.

Bright acidity and textural elements make it idea with a range of simply-prepared foods – grilled white fish, calamari, and tomato based sauces.

Experience the refreshing citrus flavours of Vermentino for free with the Symphony of Sauvignon Blanc Dozen.

3. Arneis

“Crisp, floral and packed full of pear with a lovely texture, like Pinot G, Arneis is a fabulously food-friendly white,” says Tasting Panellist, Keith Tulloch.

Originating in Italy, Arneis is a white varietal winemakers often blend with Nebbiolo to add a touch of sweetness and perfume. Here in Australia, it’s living up to its reputation as being a little difficult to grow – an emerging hit.

It thrives on cool to moderate climates such as Adelaide Hills, King Valley and Mornington Peninsula.

A crisp yet generous and versatile variety – pair it with salads, egg-based dishes, antipasto.

Discover the food-friendly Arneis for free with the Pinot G Perfection Dozen

4. Gruner Veltliner

Gruner Veltliner is very similar to Riesling, but with just a little more richness and a distinctive peppery aroma that I know you’ll adore," says Tasting Panellist, Trent Mannell.

Gruener Veltliner is the most famous and widely planted white variety in Austria. Here in Australia it’s gaining a great following due to passion of producers including Tomich Wines, Cape Barren and Geoff Hardy.

It thrives in cool climates such as Adelaide Hills.

An elegant, complex and savoury variety, ideally suited to aromatic dishes, spicy vegetables, tofu and Japanese.

Venture into the world of Gruner Veltliner for free with the Flourish of Riesling Dozen

5. Zinfandel

“Big, rich and plummy, Zinfandel offers all the intensity that Shiraz lovers look for," says Tasting Panel co-Chairman, Phil Ryan.

Know in Australia more by its Puglian name of Primitivo, this robust red can have a very high alcohol content, sometimes as high as 17%! In America, it’s also made into a white wine called White Zin.

It thrives in warmer climates such as Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Rutherglen.

Its sweet fruit and spicy tannins pair well with smokey, spicy dishes – barbeques, spicy Asian dishes, and curries.

Savour the deliciousness of Zinfandel for free with the Shiraz Intensity Dozen

6. Durif

Durif and Cabernet are similarly luxurious with dark cherry, chocolate and hints of anise,” says Tasting Panellist, Dave Mavor.

Hailing from the south of France, Durif is now most prolific in Australia and California. It has great ageing potential and blends beautifully with Shiraz.

It thrives in hot climates such as Rutherglen, Barossa Valley and Riverland.

Pair it with richer, high fat foods to balance the robust tannins – rich braised meats, casserole and meaty pasta.

Delve into the delicious world of Durif with the Chocolatey Cabernet Dozen.

7. Nero d’Avola

“With its spicy fruits and supple savoury texture, Nero d’Avola will sweep you off your feet,” says Tasting Panellist, Adam Walls. Find out more about the variety in Adam's video here

Translating as ‘black grape of Avola’, Nero d’Avola hails from the Italian town for which it’s named. It didn’t arrive in Australia until 1998 and while it’s not widely known, it’s proving to be a delicious drink.

It thrives in moderate to warm climates such as Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Riverland, Heathcote and Murray Darling.

Pair it with rich dishes that will be balanced by the tannins and high acidity – osso bucco, spicy Indian and game meat.

Make a Nero d’Avola discovery for free with the Pinot Noir Explosion Dozen.

Expand your cellar with all of these great new finds, and open up a whole new world of food and wine matching possibilities.

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History For more than 80 years, the Macedonian-born Peos family has lived in Manjimup in WA, having been attracted to the region’s rich soils and ideal crop-growing weather. The family’s viticultural history goes back to Macedonia, where P.Y. Peos began cultivating grapes and producing wine almost a century ago and he passed this love of wine down to his son, Jim.  With viticulture in their historical veins, brothers Vic, John, Kon and Chris banded together in 1996 to create their dream vineyard as a legacy to their late father, Jim Peos, and late grandfather, P.Y. Peos.  Tasting Notes This  Pinot Noir  from the  Peos Estate   Four Kings range, named after the four Peos brothers, presents dark cherry aromas with hints of allspice. On the palate, intense berry fruit and spice with a silky texture are well balanced by undertones of toasty oak leading to a persistent finish. Winemaking The grapes were cold soaked for 48 hours before inoculation. Fermented in an open fermenter, the wine was punched down three times a day to gently extract skin tannins and flavours. Post alcoholic fermentation, the wine was gently pressed and transferred to 30% new and 70% older French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation. The wine remained in barrel for 10 months before final blending.  Graphite Road, West Manjimup, WA peosestate.com.au 08 9772 1378 + Food With its beautiful fine tannins, Pinot Noir needs a food match that’s full of gamey, earthy flavours. Duck is the classic choice, but also try oily fish like salmon or a selection of blue cheeses. Click here for all our delicious recipes
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Magic Mediterranean - Vermentino
Words by Daniel Honan on 15 Oct 2017
The Italian varietal Vermentino is winning fans for its wonderfully refreshing characters and textural mouthfeel making it the drink for this summer. You heard it here first – Vermentino is the new white! There are fewer wines around that are as sexy to say, taste as good, and are perfect paired with a spread of fresh seafood on a summer’s afternoon. In fact, drinking a glass of Vermentino is like going on a Mediterranean holiday. Indeed, Vermentino hails from the type of places where warm sun and cool sea breezes, cellar doors and summer afternoons are in abundance. Just off the coasts of Italy and France are the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, which lie (almost) in the middle of the Mediterranean, split between the Balearic and Tyrrhenian Seas. Here you’ll find a melting pot of different soils (limestone, granite, sandstone and clay) and climates (maritime and continental) mixed together to provide the perfect growing conditions for this unique grape variety. Aussie Vermentino Just like its home in the Med, here in Australia, Vermentino seems especially at home near the coast, in regions like McLaren Vale , Margaret River , even the Hunter Valley . Yet, this grape variety is also finding favour, and flavour, in other places a little further from the shore, such as King Valley , the Barossa , and the Riverland wine region around Mildura. Inland wine growers, Chalmers, have been pioneering alternative varietals for over 15 years. The family first planted Vermentino back in 2000, and were one of the first wineries in Australia to make wine from the variety. 

“Vermentino was one of our first flagship wines,” says Kim Chalmers. “It’s a variety that loves warm summers and sunshine, which is perfect for our Australian conditions. Its big bunches and juicy berries make it quite resistant to long heat waves. We’ve had a lot of success growing Vermentino at our vineyards in both Heathcote and Mildura.”

- Kim Chalmers, Chalmers Wines, Riverland
That is the great thing we’ve discovered about this (and other) Italian varietals recently trialled across the many wine regions of Australia - their adaptability. If you speak to a European producer of Vermentino, they’ll probably tell you that the grapes must be grown in close proximity to the sea, so that they can possess and express their inherently unique and refreshing sea-spray aroma and flavour. “Our experience growing Vermentino would suggest otherwise,” counters Kim. “We’ve only ever grown the variety very inland, and yet we still get that delicious sea-salt, briny character in all of our wines made from the variety. I think the closeness to the ocean rumour might be an old wives tale.” Key characters
The unique textural and sensual characteristics of Vermentino are what make this variety such a delicious alternative to your typical tipple of, say, Sauvignon Blanc , or Pinot Gris . The dominant aromas and flavours expressed by the grape include juicy lemons and limes, fleshy grapefruit, crunchy green apples and crushed almonds. Sometimes, you may notice the briny scent of ocean-spray drifting over fresh jasmine. At other times, you might smell a hint of beeswax and musk, or taste fresh tropical fruits, crispy pear, with a touch of salt. This all depends, of course, on where the grapes are grown, when they’re picked, and what the winemaker’s intent is when making Vermentino into wine. If the grapes are picked early you will, typically, note freshness and citrus, with bright, crunchy acids. If the grapes are allowed to ripen and are picked a bit later, you get a fleshier, juicier, more tropical style of wine. “The thing about Vermentino is it’s a very late picked varietal, for example, in the Hunter they pick it after Shiraz,” says winemaker David Hook, who has been specialising in Italian varietals for 30 years. “Some go for that lighter, crunchier style, which is picked earlier and is great for everyday drinking. But in Orange, where I source my Vermentino, I like to wait as long as I can to pick it as it gives a bigger, richer style that really highlights the varietal characters and the texture is ramped up.” Phil Ryan, co-Chairman of the Wine Selectors Tasting Panel , echoes David’s preference for the fuller, riper style of Vermentino, saying that it offers so much more for the drinker. “The riper style of Vermentino offers far more complexity and intrigue to the wine,” says Phil. “It also allows those delicious stonefruit characteristics to come to the fore and plays to one of its major appeals, which is its texture.” Vermentino’s textual qualities (the way the wine feels in the mouth when you drink it) also boosts its food matching ability and is one of the reasons why this varietal stands out from the rest of the wine crowd.

Vermentino always goes down well by the glass, here. We’ll often get people sitting at the bar snacking on a bowl of salty, crispy white bait. Personally, I love it matched to a plate of grilled blue mackerel with fresh tomato, olives and chilli.

- Stuart Knox, , Owner and sommelier of Fix St James, in Sydney.
For renowned Vermentino producer Joe Grilli from Primo Estate in McLaren Vale, the big attraction of Vermentino is the combination of freshness and texture. “Our Vermentino has aromas of fresh melon fruits, then some intriguing almond notes, followed by the slightest touch of citrus to finish,” says Joe. “What makes Vermentino so delicious is when all these facets are wrapped up in a lighter bodied wine with still enough texture to really satisfy the tastebuds.” In fashion There is no doubt Vermentino is one of the hottest whites around. Its increasing popularity in wines bars and restaurants around the country is reflected in its growing success at wine shows, particularly the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show, held each year in Mildura. Organiser, Kim Chalmers says that Vermentino is one of the most popular wines of the show. “It’s massive,” says Kim. “We’ve had a Vermentino class since 2008 and for a number of years only a handful of wineries entered wines into that class. Within five years, the numbers have boomed. Last year there were 93 entries, and now the class has split into two separate classes: one for the lighter and fresher styles, and one for the more fuller bodied, richer styles.” There’s even a third style to be found in Australia, these days. It’s said that the name Vermentino derives from the Italian word, ‘fermento’, which relates to the fizzy characters of the young wine and this might have inspired Fowles Wine, from the Strathbogie Ranges, to make a fun, sparkling style of Vermentino. “I’m a huge fan of the tangy lemon and light florals of Vermentino and thought it might be fun to see those characters sparkle,” says Matt Fowles. “We make our sparkling Vermentino in a Prosecco style, and, I must say, I’ve been surprised just how well it’s been received!” The tasting For this tasting, over 50 Vermentinos were submitted to the Wine Selectors Tasting Panel . For a wine considered to still be an ‘emerging’ varietal, the pass rate was impressively high with around 75% scoring a medal. The top 20 wines were hotly contested and, as expected, the spread of regions was vast with multiple entries from the Hunter Valley, McLaren Vale and Barossa, as well as Riverland, which doesn’t often get much kudos in wine shows, but is proving to be a real contender with Italian varietals. The styles were varied, which is to be expected, given all the variables, but the underlying characters remained true – delicious stonefruit flavours balanced with freshness and texture with subtle sea salt notes and energetic acidity. You just have to find the particular nuances that appeal to you. Yep, Vermentino is here. Whether enjoying a warm afternoon with a sumptuous spread of seafood or sitting in a cosy bar planning a potential Mediterranean sojourn, pairing your activity with a glass of your favourite Vermentino seems like the perfect thing to do. The Standout Vermentino from the Tasting Trentham The Family Vermentino 2016 (Murray Darling) Chalmers Vermentino 2016 (Heathcote) Stone Dwellers Limited Release Vermentino 2015 (Strathbogie Ranges) Lovable Rogue The Italian Jobs Vermentino 2016 (Hunter Valley) Parish Hill Vermentino 2016 (Adelaide Hills) Seppeltsfield Cellar Door Collection Vermentino 2017 (Barossa) Tulloch Cellar Door Release Vermentino 2017 (Orange) Chalk Hill Wines Vermentino 2016 (McLaren Vale) Saddler’s Vermentino 2015 (Barossa) Alejandro Vermentino 2016 (Riverland) Alternatus Vermentino 2016 (Mclaren vale) David Hook Central Ranges Vermentino 2016 (Orange) First Creek Vermentino 2016 (Hunter Valley) La Maschera Vermentino 2015 (Barossa)
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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