Alternate Varietals; the Euro Edge Downunder

Alternate Varietals; the Euro Edge Downunder Brett’s Vinous Ponderings #2

following the path less trodden, championing the alternate varietals, those little known or completely unknown grapes to the Australian vinous community. Heck, I can’t even spell ‘commershell’ let alone sell it – Brett Trewartha

I remember back in 2007 when Jane and I first had the pleasure of sitting with a particularly gifted and artful winemaker by the name of Matt Gant, Gantos as he is more commonly known in the wine fraternity. He introduced us to Arneis, Arneis (Ar-Nase or Ar-Ney) which originates from the cooler sites of the Langhe in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. Matt had twice put his hand to making the globally renowned Cerretto ‘Blange’ Arneis and loved the varietal, which was virtually unknown in Australia. ‘More in a Riesling style’ Matt would say, from his Riesling experiences at the helm of St Hallett; cooler ferments, textural, balanced, hints of spice and that Euro Edge of enticing fruit over Savoury drive.

Gantos and his Arneis

Ten years later we still love the First Drop ‘Vivo’ Arneis at Epicure, it’s a cracker of a wine every year! This was the wine that cemented the Epicure philosophy of family-owned grower/producers and the unending passion for following the path less trodden, champion the alternate varietals, those little known or completely unknown grapes to the Australian vinous community. Heck, I can’t even spell ‘commershell’ let alone sell it.

Moving forward a decade and ‘wow’ what a world of wine we have at our feet. I’ll just type what I think as this is easiest for my slightly left of centre cerebrum. When I think First Drop circa 2017, aside from the brilliant range of Shiraz, I see Arneis, Grenache, Touriga Nacional, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Pinot Grigio, Monastrell to name only a few. A suite of wines that regularly draws the response of ‘Oh I actually like them all!’ – no shit Sherlock, Gantos and JR didn’t make them for shit’s and giggles, they’re crackin’ booze all day long.

First Drop Alternate Varietals

Sam Scott was gifted the name ‘La Prova’ (The Trial or Experiment) by the delightful Paul Ambrosini of Ambrosini’s Restaurant on Magill Rd, Norwood; the rest is very much the inspiration of the ‘Adroit’ (queue Mike Bennie) winemaker himself. Walking through Sam’s winery today you will discover Sangiovese, Fiano, Barbera, Primitivo, Aglianico, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Pinot Grigio and more.

In 2017 Sam has produced Nero D’Avola from three separate sites to highlight the Meso climatic influences upon a grape that is being well received among Australian wine lovers. Not satisfied with this exercise of discovery, Sam is also trialling a blend of contemporary and long-held winemaking techniques on the same grapes, a never-ending search for the ‘perfect drink’ without a doubt La Prova continues.

Bernice Ong and Julian Forwood of Ministry of Clouds had chiselled their A-Grade credentials in sales & marketing for years, yet today produce a Tempranillo / Grenache blend that sits on many of Australia’s finest wine lists, their sales savvy would suggest they had an inkling well before they made this delicious wine.

Bernice Ong & Julien Forwood

Con-Greg Grigoriou aka The Delinquente simply took his heritage, our climate and some geographic notations to help form his decision to make Southern Italian varietals in the South Australian Riverland. Warm, dry, long sunshine hours, low diurnal variation all pointed to the climate at the bottom of the boot and the grapes of Nero D’Avola, Montepulciano, Vermentino. Treat them gentle, funk them up with a sexy label, know your market and bingo, there’s an economic conundrum of over demand and under supply… oh dear, now that’s a problem that many commercially minded producers could only dream of!

I’m at risk of beginning to wax on a little now as this is a subject that warms my soul, so time to shut it down. In closing I will cast my mind to the Epicure portfolio and mention Moshcofilero, Schiava, Chiavennasca, Pinot Bianco, Lagrein, Garganega, Rondinella, Corvina, Molinara, Trebbiano di Soave, Cortese, Dolcetto, Pecorino, Verdicchio, Glera, Greco, Falanghina, Nerello Mascalese, Inzolia, Grillo, Zibbibo and Carricante.

I’ve only touched upon a few of the delightful producers and wines we have the great pleasure of representing and drinking, as for the last paragraph, perhaps you can do a little discovering yourself (right here), we certainly have. Or, if all else fails ask us, if nothing else we have quirk in bottles and in spades, don’t we Tony?



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