Sharing a Glass With Dr Aniello Iannuzzi, Mount Eyre Vineyards
The product of two families with deep ties to the Mediterranean, Mount Eyre Vineyards continues a legacy of wine-making that extends back centuries, combining European traditions with dynamic Australian viticulture and winemaking.
First established in the Broke district of the Hunter Valley in 1970 by Neil Grosser, who continues today as chief viticulturist, the vineyards were purchased by the Iannuzzi and Tsironis families in 1999 and named Three Ponds.
From there, a second vineyard in Pokolbin was added, the Holman Estate. The Holman Estate represents an exceptional site, its deep red loams proving themselves over and over again with quality Shiraz, Merlot and Nero D'Avola.
From here, nestled in the heart of the Hunter Valley, winery owner and international man of medicine, Dr Aniello Iannuzzi continues what his ancestors in Vallo della Lucania started so long ago, bringing great wines to life, to share with family and friends alike – like the Holman series of super-premium Hunter wines.
Your THREE PONDS HOLMAN NERO D’AVOLA 2018 is a very special wine and found itself in our Top 50 Wines of 2019. Did you have an inkling that this would be a stand-out wine?
Indeed! The Nero has been a consistent performer since we planted it and the 2018 vintage was dry, yet not too hot, allowing for excellent ripening. We then did some good oak treatment and added a small percentage of Chambourcin for colour and complexity. A wonderful wine resulted!
You have a long family history with the Australian wine industry; was working with wines always on the cards for you?
It was never on the cards in such a serious way… The decision to enter the wine industry was almost accidental when we bought Mount Eyre in 1999. Eve (my wife) and I always loved the Hunter Valley as we drove through it between Coonabarabran and Sydney. Next thing you know, we're immersed in the winemaking! We have now completed 21 vintages.
How has your European background shaped your career in winemaking?
For Italians wine is part of the culture. Fiano and Nero d'Avola are Italian varietals, so we are tapping into our heritage.
This also influences our winemaking style. We aim for more nuanced flavours and wines that are not too alcoholic. This enhances food pairing.
You’re a winery owner, a Clinical Associate Professor at the Sydney Medical School, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of New England and the Chairman of the Australian Doctors Federation. Busy man! What element of your varied career do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy them all! Variety is the spice of life.Sharing knowledge and experience whilst always learning is the essence of all the roles.
How do you balance working in health care and your passion for the world of wine?
Our focus is on quality rather than quantity. Small amounts of wine drunk for pleasure, not for intoxication.
You and Eve work very closely on your three wine brands with your winemakers, Michael McManus, Andrew Spinaze and Mark Richardson – do you like to work hand in hand with them from a wine’s inception, or do you give them free rein?
We don't give free rein but do pay attention to their advice. Many of the wines are pretty set in their styles after 21 vintages, so we all know what we are seeking to achieve.
When we do new wines such as the Nero, the Rosé or the Xrissi, then Eve and I do play a bigger role in setting styles, quantities, etc.
Making the wine is only part of the equation of course! Viticulturelabel design and packaging are all things that are out of the hands of the winemakers.
The Hunter Valley is a very distinct wine region – what makes it so special and why should people visit the region?
Volumes have been written about why the Hunter is special, and rightly so!
It is Australia's oldest wine region and the best known internationally. It remains at the top end of quality when compared to other Australian wine regions.
Hunter Semillon is without rival internationally. Hunter Shiraz and Chardonnay competes with anything other regions have to offer. The emerging varietals like Fiano and Nero d'Avola are also as good as anywhere in Australia.
Add to this that it is within a 3-hour drive of about one quarter of Australia's population and has a vast array of tourism possibilities!
If you had to pick a favourite Mount Eyre wine, past or present, what would it be?
I love drinking the aged Three Ponds Chardonnays from our cellar. The 2005 and 2006 are magic!
What’s your ultimate wine and food match?
Our Nero d'Avola with Eve's home-made lasagna.
Where in the world have you had your most memorable meal to date?
Too many to contemplate! An extra-long degustation at The French Laundry in the Napa Valley was certainly up there with the best.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE…
Wine varietal: Chardonnay
Holiday destination: Sicily
Book: The Bible
Television show: Coverage of the FIFA World Cup