Top 5 Australian Italian White Wines
Grape vines arrived in Australia with the First Fleet, until recently however French grapes dominated (think chardonnay, cabernet, shiraz and sauvignon blanc). In the last 20 years or so there’s been a surge in plantings of Italian varietals, which makes great sense with our climate – especially for those traditionally found in hot, dry southern Italy. Here are five Italian grapes finding a new home in Australia.
Arneis Holm Oak (Tasmania)
With a name that means ‘little rascal’ in Piedmont dialect, arneis has a reputation for being hard to grow. But it’s found a happy home in several cool Aussie regions including Tasmania, where Holm Oak’s has cheek-puckering acid balanced by a delicious floral nose and intriguing herb-tinged palate.
Fiano Coriole (McLaren Vale, SA)
From Mediterranean Sicily and Campania in southern Italy, fiano has made itself quite at home in hot, dry McLaren Vale, where Coriole introduced it to Australia in 2002. Theirs is still a great example, with bold ripe fruit aroma and a pleasing touch of bitterness on the palate.
Vermentino The Little Wine Company (Hunter Valley, NSW)
The classic white of Sardinia, also known in Liguria as Pigato, this versatile grape can be dry, sweet, still or sparkling. It doesn’t mind a bit of heat and Little’s from the Hunter has a great balance of ripe fruit and good acid, while di Lusso’s from Mudgee is a great match with raw artichoke salad.
Garganega Dal Zotto (King Valley, Vic)
Garganega was recently planted in Victoria’s King Valley (synonymous with Italian varietals) by the Dal Zotto family who hail from the Veneto, where it is the main grape in Soave. Theirs has a lovely floral nose and soft palate with good acid and ripe fruit.
Moscato Giallo Momento Mori (Heathcote, Vic)
Named ‘yellow muscat’ for its golden berries, this member of the huge muscat family is traditionally made as a sweet passito wine in north-eastern Italy. In Victoria, Dane Johns makes a beautiful skin contact style, with a delicious grapey nose and complex bitter-sweet taste, that I almost want to swim in!