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Seven Wine Varieties to Explore this Summer

Make your summer even more sensational by treating yourself to a whole new world of wine with delicious alternative varietals you’re guaranteed to love.

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

Semillon + Fiano, Chardonnay + Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc + Chenin Blanc,  Pinot Noir + Gamay, Merlot + Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon + Lagrein, and Pinot Noir + Nebbiolo.

Favourites you love + new finds to enjoy!

FIANO

Semillon and Fiano share: light bodied, citrus fruit flavours, mouth-watering acidity 

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Fiano is one of the native grapes of the southern Italian region of Campania, and thrives in the foothills inland from Naples. I and takes its name from Vitis apiana ("the vine beloved of bees") as its sweetness if loved by bees.

Taking its name from Vitis apiana, "the vine beloved of bees", Fiano wines can range in style from light and fresh to full bodied and rich. Stone fruit and citrus flavours and almond are common throughout the spectrum of styles, while honey notes appear in the richer expressions.

Its love of hot and dry climates has seen it thrive in Australia with regions including McLaren Vale, the Hunter Valley and the Riverland making superb examples. Not to be outdone, there are also some top-class examples coming from the cooler climates of the Adelaide Hills.

“Whether it is fresh and lighter in style or richer and creamier, Fiano is the perfect wine to suit a range of cooked or raw seafood,’ says Tasting Panellist, Will Figueria.

Discover the delights of Fiano here.

ALBARIÑO

Chardonnay and Albariño share: medium bodied, stonefruit characters, great with shellfish

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Albariño hails from the north west Spanish region of Galicia and is most notable for the wine of Rias Bias. It is also grown over the border in Portugal where the grape is call Alvarinho. 

Its life is Australia had a false start when it was revealed that a vast number of vines that were planted under the notion they were Albariño turned out to be in fact Savagnin.

The best Albariño wines are full of peach and citrus fruit notes and are superb with fresh seafood.

True Albariño has been planted around the country and we are seeing great expressions from the Hunter Valley, Alpine Valley and Adelaide Hills.

“In Galicia the perfect lunch is one of grilled seafood and a glass of Albariño. Next time you’re enjoying seafood, swap your Chardonnay for Albariño and see why it’s such a great match,” explains Tasting Panellist, Nicole Gow.

Explore the delicious fruit flavours of Albariño here.

CHENIN BLANC

Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc share: light bodied style, mouth-watering acidity, vibrant fruit flavours

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The spiritual home of Chenin Blanc is the Loire Valley in France. Much like Riesling, it’s one of the most versatile grape varieties in world making, dry, off dry, sweet and even sparkling wines.

Chenin Blanc has a backbone of high acidity which is its key to its versatility. It makes bright and fresh wines that most commonly shows notes of green apple and pineapple.

In Australia it has traditionally been used in blends, most famously the classic dry white blends from WA. More recently, a new generation is producing single varietal wines with great results. 

Watch out for examples from Margaret River and Geographe in Western Australia, South Australia’s McLaren Vale region.

“Sauvignon Blanc is loved for its brightness and vibrant fruit flavours. Swap Australian Sauvignon for Chenin and there’s no doubt you will be hooked, “says Tasting Panellist, Adam Walls.

Experience the refreshing flavours Chenin Blanc here.

BARBERA

Merlot and Barbera share: medium bodied, black fruit flavours, smooth silken texture

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Barbera (along with Nebbiolo and Dolcetto) is one of the three famed red varieties that hail from Piedmont in the north west corner of Italy. The two villages of Asti and Alba make the most prized examples of Barbera in the world.

Barbera has a higher level of natural acidity and lower tannins than most Italian varieties, which coupled with its black cherry flavours, delivers wines packed with juicy black fruits and a silken texture.

Its natural acidity makes it perfectly suited to any dish containing tomato.

In Australia, Barbera thrives in cooler climates including Adelaide Hills and King Valley, however, because of its high acidity it can make balanced wines in warmer climates like McLaren Vale and the Hunter Valley.

“Anyone who loves the fruit intensity and softer texture of Merlot should try Barbera. It is not only softer than most Italian reds, but it’s also full of black cherry and plum fruit,”says Tasting Panellist, Dave Mavor.

Sample sensational Barbera expressions here.

LAGREIN

Cabernet and Lagrein share: dark colour, muscular tannins, black fruit characters

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Lagrein hails from the north eastern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige and is an ancient grape variety mentioned in texts that date back as far as the 16th century.

Its wines are strong and full bodied with plum and wild cherry flavours, and the variety is particularly well known for the deep, dense colour it imparts. It also has high levels of acidity and can have muscular tannins which makes Lagrein a perfect to match to red meat dishes or hard cheeses.

While it’s not widely grown in Australia, we’re seeing examples from both cooler climates including King Valley and warmer climates like the Barossa, Langhorne Creek and Riverland in South Australia.

“If you like the intensity and the tannin backbone of Cabernet Sauvignon then Lagrein is right up your alley,” says Tasting Panellist, Adam Walls says.

Delve into the delicious world of Lagrein here.

Nebbiolo

Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo share: lighter body, red fruit characters, cool climate

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Considered by many to be the most esteemed of Italian red varieties, Nebbiolo comes from the north-western Italian region of Piedmont. It gets its name from the Piedmont foothills on cool autumn mornings, when the valleys and vineyards lie hidden under a ghostly blanket of nebbia (fog).

 It is the grape responsible for the famed wines of Barolo and Barbaresco – two wines lauded over by wine lovers around the world.

 It produces wines of light colour, light bodied but with high levels of acid and notable tannins which give the wines the ability to age with grace.

Nebbiolo requires a cool climate to thrive and in Australia the Yarra Valley, Beechworth, King Valley and Adelaide Hills make our best examples.

“Nebbiolo relies on subtlety and elegance rather than brute force. They are savoury wines that any Pinot Noir lover will enjoy,” says Tasting Panellist Keith Tulloch.

Make a Nebbiolo discovery here.

GAMAY

Pinot Noir and Gamay share: lighter weight, red fruit flavours, cool climate

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Gamay is the red grape behind the famed wines of Beaujolais which sits to the south of Burgundy and to the north of the Rhone Valley. In France, it is also grown in the Loire Valley where it is also used to make Rosé.

Gamay makes light bodied, fresh and crunchy red wines with very similar flavours to that of Pinot Noir. It’s also similar to Pinot in the fact that it thrives in Australia’s cooler climate regions such as the Yarra Valley, Adelaide Hills and Victoria’s Great Western.

“Gamay is bright and vibrant and so very easy to drink. Don’t be afraid to chill it in the warmer summer months,” says Tasting Panellist, Trent Mannell.

Venture into the world of Gamay here.

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

Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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